Paulie Malignaggi - "I'll Give Ricky Hatton A Rematch After I Punish Manny Pacquiao!"

boxingExclusive interview by James Slater: As surely every British, if not global, fight fan is aware, Brooklyn, New York's Paulie "Magic Man" Malignaggi is the next opponent for Ricky "The Hitman" Hatton. Set to meet in November, most likely in Las Vegas, the two superb 140 pound fighters will clash in a contest that will decide the IBF light-welterweight championship - currently held by Malignaggi.

Very kindly granting me an over-the-phone interview today, (July 9th) the 27-year-old New Yorker with the 25-1(5) record spoke about the upcoming fight, his oft-broken right hand, his career in general and his ambitions for the future should he get past Hatton. Quick-tongued but very friendly, here is what "The Magic Man" had to say.

James Slater: Firstly, Paulie, how's your right hand? I understand the cast came off earlier this week.

Paulie Malignaggi: The hand is going good right now. I'm in the rehabilitation stage right now, but there is no pain and I'm healing real well.. In fact, this break is probably the least damaging of all the breaks I've had with the right hand. There was only one fracture, and I've had breaks where there were seven fractures. Thankfully, though, my long-time doctor, Doctor Steven Margles - who has probably saved my career so many times - took care of my hand once again.

J.S: For the record, Paulie, how many times have you broken your hand now?

P.M: I've had four separate surgeries on the hand.

J.S: I know you have had criticism for your lack of KO's. Do you feel the hand trouble is the major factor with regards to your lack of knockouts?

P.M: I think it's quite obvious. I mean, people can criticise if they want, but the simple fact is, my hand has been fractured and with a fractured hand you cannot get the KO's. You cannot hit with enough force. I was born with brittle hands, and that's just something I have to deal with. All athletes have to overcome certain things, and brittle hands are something that I have had to overcome - as simple as.

J.S: Does it annoy you when the critics complain about your lack of KO's?

P.M: It used to. But now I look at it as nothing more than ignorance. I mean, you can't get angry at stupidity. People are born with it [stupidity] and that's it. These people can say what they want about me, but they choose to look at the hand trouble I've had and still expect KO's. But aside from my hand trouble, I've also fought very durable guys lately - guys who have never been stopped. You look at Donald Camarena, Herman Ngoudjo and Lovemore N'Dou - all fighters who have never been stopped.

J.S: Moving on to the Ricky Hatton fight. Are you unhappy the fight looks like it will be held in Las Vegas and not New York?

P.M: Well, it looks like it will be The MGM in Las Vegas on November 22nd. So I will be in Vegas with bells on. I would've liked the fight to have been at Madison Square Garden but I think it will be Ricky who lives to regret the fight taking place in Vegas instead. For the whole of his career, Ricky Hatton will never get the chance to headline at Madison Square Garden. His only chance would have been in a fight with Paulie Malignaggi. If he lives to be an old man, he will always regret not taking the fight at The Garden. I mean, it's the whole experience of the place, and the noise. It's just so loud and electric fighting there! I wanted to experience fighting in Manchester City - even if it that fight wasn't one of my best performances - and I did that and I will always cherish that. I think Ricky will always regret not doing the same thing. But there's no-one else to blame but Ricky.

J.S: You've gone on record as saying you think you may stop Hatton. Do you think that will come due to your accumulation of on-target punches?

P.M: I know Hatton is a fighter who has never had the best of chins. People can say what they want [about my chances of stopping him], but I feel Hatton is vulnerable to punches and he's not hard to hit at all. He's still determined, but I don't think he's the same fighter as he was when he beat Kostya Tszyu. I don't know if it's all the punches he's taken in his fights or his bad lifestyle, but Ricky's definitely not the fighter he was. But he's still the man on the mountain top at 140 pounds. I have to beat him to get the credit. Ricky Hatton is THE name at 140 still.

J.S: If you beat him, you will likely end his career. Is that your mindset going in?

P.M: Not really. I mean, I'm not looking at his future after this fight, I'm only looking at mine. The way I see it, I'd give Ricky a rematch just as soon as I've punished Manny Pacquiao. I am really angry at the complete lack of respect Manny Pacquiao has been giving me. I mean, he's been talking about fighting Hatton next, when Hatton hasn't even got past me yet! I've worked very hard to get where I am in my career, and for Pacquiao to completely take that away from me by disrespecting me - that makes me really want to punish him after I beat Hatton. But then, afterwards, I would be happy to give Ricky a rematch.

J.S: Your division of light-welterweight is a very good division now. Who else would you like to fight in the future?

P.M: It is a good weight class right now, yeah. I will fight whoever the public wants me to. There is nobody I won't fight if it means keeping the fans happy, along with putting money in my pocket of course. I mean, I spoke to Kendall Holt the morning after his win over Ricardo Torres - the round and fight of the year right there! - and we spoke about the possibility of us meeting down the road. I would fight anyone, is what I'm saying.

J.S: Are there any plans for you to move up to welterweight, or will you stay at 140?

P.M: I'll move up to welterweight to get a rematch with Miguel Cotto. That's the ultimate fight for me, and that would have to be at 147, so I'll move up for that fight.

J.S: Just going back to the Hatton fight. How do you see the fight going?

P.M: It will definitely be the best performance of my career. I mean, if I don't stop him I'll be happy to take a points win. The thing is, I'll have an answer for anything he does in there. In terms of skill we aren't even on the some page - there's no way he can match me for sheer skill. I know he holds a lot in fights, either when he's hurt or to try and counter his lack of skills. But as I say, he won't be able to do anything I've not seen before. I've wanted this fight for so long, to prove myself as the very best at 140 pounds.

Article posted on 13.07.2008

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