Cotto vs. Malignaggi: A Fight That Would Return Boxing to The Mecca


27.02.06 – By Joseph Carlo Russo: Paulie “The Magic Man” Malignaggi’s latest verbal lashing of Miguel Cotto has sparked controversy amidst boxing website readers in the global boxing community. With good reason, fight fans hit the message boards immediately after news of Paulie’s words was released. The common debates that encompass the junior welterweight division have begun to fly. Names like Hatton, Cotto, Malignaggi etc. have begun circulating.. Some people find these disputes agitating, I find them wonderful. They exhibit boxing’s livelihood and loyal fanbase.

Kudos to Bensonhurst Brooklyn NY’s Paulie Malignaggi for letting his words be known. In the past and in the present there are constantly speculations and accusations of fighters ducking and dodging other fighters. But, rarely does the average fan actually know the validity of such instances. So many contenders and prospects mope around pondering why nobody is calling them for a fight when they are not forcing themselves to be heard. Well, here, Paulie has let the entire world know that an offer, a date, and a venue is on the table for Puerto Rico’s Miguel Angel Cotto. In calling out Cotto publicly, Paulie is demonstrating to everyone that he is not running from top opposition and is not shying away from what can potentially be a tough fight.

Paul Malignaggi receives boatloads of criticism for his frequent verbal antics, but there is in fact a method to his madness. Malignaggi is a pure boxer, he has one of the best jabs in the business, blinding speed, superb ring generalship, and good defense, all resemblant of Floyd Mayweather, boxing’s pound for pound king. I am confident when I say that no matter who Paulie fights, win or lose, he will give them a run for their money at the least. This is why Malignaggi must cause a stir to be heard by potential opponents.

He is the epitome of every puncher’s worst nightmare, and on a piece of paper Cotto may seem tailor-made for him. Ladies and gentlemen, all opinions and assumptions aside, regardless of what you think about Paulie’s mouthing and showboating, no matter how much you may hate him, his Jordan headband, his taped up spiky haircut, and his skirt trunks, guys are not going to be begging to fight him. So, I am glad to see that he has taken the initiative to connect with fight fans and exhibit what he is about as a fighter.

Then there’s Miguel Cotto, every fight fan’s dream, a guy that hits and gets hit. Though he has been compared to Gatti, he hasn’t nearly that good a chin and hasn’t been in enough tough fights to draw that comparison. He was stunned by Ricardo Torres, and by Demarcus Corley. But in his last performance, Cotto did exhibit a warrior mentality coming off the canvas and keeping his composure to pull out the 7th round KO.

As he is a former Olympian who always possessed a style that was more suited for the pros, Miguel Cotto was groomed to be a star ever since he arrived in the professional ranks. He has excellent hand skills as he can throw many different punches with good power and execution, demonstrates a good forward moving pace, throws a great liver punch, and even though he gets wobbled he has exhibited good ring smarts in avoiding excessive danger.

Cotto has experienced a lot more TV success as he has headlined and co-headlined numerous HBO broadcasts. Malignaggi has appeared on ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights and Shobox, but don’t be fooled, this says nothing of the quality difference between the two fighters.

A Cotto vs. Malignaggi showdown at Madison Square Garden would be great for the sport and great for boxing’s Mecca. Here, you have an excellent matchup between two prospects both at relatively the same stage of their careers knocking on the door of full contenderdom bearing two completely different styles. And both come from two ethnicities that happen to be quite abundant in the NYC area and in the history of boxing being Puerto Ricans and Italians. There could not be a better recipe for a fight. Will it be the bludgeoning body shots and textbook combinations that will wear Malignaggi down? Or will it be the blazing handspeed and ring generalship that will force a confused Cotto to fold? Perhaps it will be a great fight and will boost both men’s careers.

Hopefully, June 10th at Madison Square Garden will hold our answer.