Paulie Malignaggi - "I Will Be Vindicated After The Juan Diaz Fight!"
Exclusive Interview by James Slater - As has been reported on this web site, Paulie Malignaggi and Juan Diaz will clash in Houston, Texas on August 22nd in a very interesting catch-weight bout. Fighting at an agreed weight of 138.5-pounds, "The Magic Man" and "The Baby Bull" will both be hoping to get the win that will propel them back into the world title picture.
Article posted on 13.06.2009
Very kindly taking time to speak with me yesterday after he'd finished training, former IBF light-welterweight king Malignaggi had the following answers to my questions.
James Slater: It's great to speak with you, Paulie. We hear the fight with Juan Diaz is signed now, and the fans are already talking about it. One of the first things some fans have asked is, are you concerned about going to Diaz' hometown of Houston? Are you worried about him maybe getting a home decision if the fight goes to the cards?
Paulie Malignaggi: Yeah, I mean it's always a concern going to another fighter's home town. And Texas hasn't exactly got the best record, either. Going back as far as Julio Cesar Chavez against Pernell Whitaker, and more recently, the Chris John fight where he got robbed against Rocky Juarez. But I have to have faith in the Texas commission, and I hope they do the right thing. And I hope the officials and the judges do the right thing. You know, I can't control anything that goes on outside the ring. That's why I'm preparing to be at my best and go out and do my job a hundred-percent.
J.S: The weight issue of 138.5 being agreed on - will it be hard to get down? I know it's only a pound-and-a-half.
P.M: Well, you have to work that little bit harder to lose that extra pound or so. But I'm a very disciplined fighter and I'll be able to do it okay.
J.S: Will you put much weight on after the weigh-in, do you think? Will you be the heavier guy in the ring on fight night?
P.M: It depends. I'll probably put on around ten pounds, I never put on much more than that.
J.S: Your plan will be to out-box and outclass Diaz?
P.M: Diaz is a very busy fighter, and he's a handful. But on August 22nd, I'll be even more of a handful. We know enough about each other to know pretty much how the fight will go. There may be a few surprises, but we know what we are. Our styles will mesh well and it will be a good fight. We both have a lot on the line in this fight. I wanted to put on a great show when I fought in Manchester [UK] and I wanted to put on a great show when I fought Ricky Hatton. I never did, and I know that. But people will see the real me against Juan Diaz. I will not be quiet after that fight. People may say I'm a sore loser, but I was a fighter who had been depleted when I fought Ricky. I'm not taking anything away from Ricky - he is a great guy and he did what he had to do. And I'm not blaming Buddy McGirt either. It's just that there are specific reasons I lost that fight - 2008 in general was a bad year for me, and I've given the specific reasons for that in earlier interviews. I will be vindicated after the Diaz fight, believe me. People have given me flak, calling me a sore loser, and they will get flak back from me after August 22nd.
J.S: Are you still angry Buddy stopped the Hatton fight?
P.M: I'm not angry with Buddy. If I saw him today I'd say hello and give him a hug. We got on great on a personal level, but not on a professional level. If you look at my two fights before I fought Hatton, you can see I was depleting as a fighter. I'm not blaming Buddy - he's great at what he teaches - but his style is not right for me. I used to be a very, very busy fighter. When I had healthy hands, I was slick and I threw a lot of punches. That all got turned a complete 180 when I worked with Buddy. He turned me into a more patient fighter - you know, stay in the pocket and look to counter. And there's nothing wrong with that, but it's not right for Paulie Malignaggi. And again, I'm not making excuses. Did I complain after I lost to Miguel Cotto? No. But people forget that. I don't mind losing, when it's me losing at my best. But for two years, I was depleting as a fighter. If it had been Herman Ngoudjo or Lovemore N'dou in the ring with me the night I lost to Ricky, they'd have beaten me.
J.S: Would you like a return with Hatton - if he fights again, that is?
P.M: I would love a rematch. I don't expect to get one, because Ricky has no reason to give me one. But me at my best, I don't think the fight would be close. I know people might say I'm crazy and a bad loser but again, did I complain after Cotto beat me? Ricky said after he beat me that he'd out-boxed the boxer and he'd out-sped the speedster. But it was all because of what I didn't do. People gave great credit to Floyd Maywether Senior after that fight, but they were watching the wrong corner! Buddy McGirt changed me a whole lot more than Mayweather changed Ricky. But after I look good against Diaz - even if I do get robbed and it's a real possibility, but the people will have seen my performance at least - I hope it will lead to a rematch with Ricky. But I very much doubt it. I mean, I wasn't really, truly impressed with Ricky that night, even though he beat me. I wasn't like, "wow!" The only fighter I was truly impressed with was Miguel Cotto. Again, the people, the fans, can say what they want. But they will see against Diaz how good I really am.
J.S: So if a rematch with Hatton doesn't happen - and it could, maybe if he fights again - who would you like? The winner on Aug. 22nd would be up there for a title fight.
P.M: Yeah, any championship fight would be great. If Amir Khan beats [Andreas] Kotelnik that's a fight I'd like. That would be a nice little fight. The UK fans are amazing, the best I've fought in front of. It's a real festive atmosphere over in the UK. So for me to come over to the UK to fight Khan, it would be no problem. Or maybe I could get a fight with Tim Bradley. Manny Pacquiao aside, I think he's the best at 140 right now. Those are basically what I'd call the reachable fights for me.
J.S: Juan Diaz is seen as the favourite in the fight. Do you think that's a fair assessment?
P.M: Based on recent performances, yeah. I would expect him to be seen as the favourite. But that's the thing; don't look at my recent performances. I'll have a lot of answers after the Diaz fight. Without getting too much into the game-plan - I mean, people know me, the way I fight. Like I say, we are both busy guys, but I will be busier on August 22nd.
J.S: I want to thank you for your time, Champ. Best wishes for the fight in August.
P.M: Okay, Mr. Slater. Thank you.
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