Paulie Malignaggi - "I Knew I'd School Juan Diaz"

boxingExclusive Interview by James Slater- Almost everyone who saw Paulie Malignaggi's catch-weight fight with Juan Diaz this past Saturday felt "The Magic Man" was unfairly treated by the judges. Malignaggi had spoken BEFORE the fight about his concerns regarding his getting robbed, and now the 28-year-old cannot help but say "I told you so!"

All are agreed that the 12-round unanimous decision awarded to Diaz was a debatable verdict at best, and another black eye for boxing at worst - the quite ludicrous score of 118-110 that was turned in by judge Gale Van Hoy particularly annoyed both the experts and Malignaggi himself. Yesterday evening (UK time) I had the opportunity to speak with Paulie as he was driving in his car. Still fuming about that happened to him this past Saturday in Texas, the former IBF light-welterweight champion was kind enough to take the time to give me the following answers to my questions.

James Slater: I really appreciate your time, Paulie. Obviously everyone is still talking about last Saturday's controversial decision. What is you immediate plan - do you plan to appeal, do you want a rematch or are you so mad you've even thought about hanging up the gloves?

Paulie Malignaggi: The best case scenario for me would be a rematch. I'm sure the fans would demand it, and I'm sure the TV networks would be interested in a second fight - I'm sure HBO would want it. It was a good fight, it was an exciting fight and I'm sure everyone would like to se it again. But you have to ask Juan Diaz; would a rematch be a worthwhile option for him? I don't feel like I have to avenge a loss, because I know I never lost that fight. I think Diaz has to avenge his loss..

J.S: Most people think you out-boxed Diaz and won. Did he ever hurt you in the fight?

P.M: No. Diaz is not a big puncher, he's more of a volume puncher with a high work-rate. But the controversy regarding this fight started before the fight. I said to the media that this would happen [a bad decision going against me]. I knew going in I didn't like who the judges were but I had no choice. I gave up a lot of things going into the fight - I agreed to the weight, I agreed the size of the ring, and I accepted who the officials were going to be. I asked one more time if the officials could be changed, but it fell on deaf ears. This is what's killing the sport. One writer in particular, who writes for a big publication but will remain nameless, he wrote about what I was saying before the fight, my concerns. But he just wrote that what I was saying might be right, or then again I might just be making excuses up. This is a guy who has a position of power whereby he could try and change things, yet he acts like an imbecile! With people like that we'll never fix boxing. And there are unfortunately too many people with positions of power who are like that. Here I am telling people what was gonna happen BEFORE the fight, and it happens, and I'm like, "I told you!" But it all fell on deaf ears going into the fight.

J.S: You did say you felt there was a very good chance you'd get robbed, and you did. But did you think the scoring would be as bad as it was? I mean, 118-110!

P.M: It was worse than I thought, yes. I mean, Gale Van Hoy's score was terrible, and Van Hoy has a terrible reputation too. Texas has a terrible reputation - going back as far as the Julio Cesar Chavez-Pernell Whitaker fight that was ludicrously scored a draw. And more recently the Chris John-Rocky Juarez draw - which most people felt John won clearly. It's a real risk fighting in Texas against a local fighter. I put the cuts on Diaz with punches, not with butts. I was warned again and again for hitting him with my elbow, but I was pushing him off with my forearm. I was not fouling Juan Diaz. Texas in general has a bad record. I didn't want to go there, but I did because I had no choice, but it still doesn't make it right what happened. I'm so angry now because I pleaded before the fight to at least give me a fighting chance by changing one or more of the officials. And again, this is what's killing boxing I think.

J.S: One good thing that did come out of the fight is the fact that you looked back to your best. All the media agreed afterwards that this was your best showing in years. That must please you at least?

P.M: I knew all along I'd school Juan Diaz. It was no coincidence [my good showing] that it came with my new trainer. No disrespect to Buddy McGirt, but I told everyone I was getting worse and worse as a fighter with him. You could see it, just look at my fights with Herman Ngoudjo and Lovemore N' dou the second time - I was barely winning my fights. Compare the first minute of the first round of the Hatton fight with the first minute of the first round again Diaz. How much sharper I looked, my jab, my balance, everything. You know, people said that I was just making excuses and blaming it all on Buddy, they said I was a cry baby. But I knew I was right, yet people still hate on me. I'm always right about boxing, when it's my boxing I'm talking about. Trust me, I know what's best for me.

J.S: If you can't get a rematch with Diaz, who else would you like to fight?

P.M: If I can't get Diaz again I'd like a rematch with Ricky Hatton. With my new trainer and me back to my best and fighting my fight, he'd be lucky to win two rounds against me. I don't mean any disrespect because I like Ricky, but I had no business losing to him in the first place. I'd even go to England to do it if possible. I think both rematches [Diaz and Hatton] are a long way off, but they're the two fights I want.

J.S: Would the possibility of being robbed in the UK worry you?

P.M: Well that could be a possibility, but I trust England a lot more than I trust Texas (laughs). The UK is one of the best places to fight because of the atmosphere. The British fans really enjoy themselves and that's what you want when you go to see a fight, a good time. England is the most enjoyable place I've fought at in my career.

J.S: There is early talk that Hatton may fight Diaz. Who wins in your opinion?

P.M: I don't think Hatton is as big a puncher as they say. I believe he's stronger than Diaz, but Diaz is a more busy fighter. I'd pick Diaz. I think he's a more complete fighter.

J.S: Did you consider retiring after getting robbed against Diaz? Did it cross your mind at all?

P.M: I love boxing and I always will. Even though I hate it as well, I'll always love it. I compare it to the first love of your life, your first girlfriend. I've grown to be disgusted by it, with all the politics and the people surrounding the sport, but at the same time I'm hooked by it and can't let it go - just like that first love. And despite all the bad things that go with it, boxing is the most noble of sports, it really is. So I'm not going to walk away. And also, I make a living with boxing. That's how I make my money. So you'll see Paulie Malignaggi in the ring for a few more years, but not too many more (laughs).

J.S: Well, we look forward to your next fight. Thanks for talking to me, Champ.

P.M: You're welcome. Bye.

Article posted on 26.08.2009

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