NEW YORK – In front of a crowd of 11,461 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, Adrien Broner won a hard-fought split decision over Paulie Malignaggi to win the WBA Welterweight World Championship. Broner (27-0, 22 KO’s) of Cincinnati, Ohio made history as he became the third fighter to jump two weight classes and win a welterweight world championship joining Hall of Famer Roberto Duran and future candidate Shane Mosley.
Brooklyn’s Malignaggi (32-5, 7 KO’s) and Broner entered the ring after weeks of trash talking throughout the event promotion. Their disdain for each other was evident during the fight in antics that forced referee Benjy Esteves halt the action and demand that they “keep it professional.” Malignaggi started out strong in the first five rounds, landing sharp combinations to the body, but Broner gained the momentum in the middle rounds and never relinquished. The judges scored the bout 115-113 and 117-111 for Broner and 115-113 for Malignaggi.
Broner, who carried an 85-percent knockout-to-win ratio into the bout, was forced to earn the first split decision of his career against the crafty Malignaggi.
“Paulie fought exactly how I thought he was going to,” said Broner. “He was shadow boxing. My next opponent, I’m going to let you all pick. I’m good. I beat Paulie. I left with his belt.”
“I think I worked him. This was a close fight,” Malignaggi said after the fight. “The fight could have went either way. I don’t think he did enough to take the belt from the champion.”