By Thomas Gerbasi
Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York - Paulie Malignaggis WBA welterweight title wasnt on the line in his co-main event bout against Pablo Cesar Cano due to Cano coming in overweight, but the Mexican battler fought like it was, and when it was over, the Brooklyn crowd cheered for the underdog, who dropped Malignaggi in the 11th round but still wound up on the short end of an unpopular split decision.
Scores were 114-113 twice, and 109-118 for Brooklyn native Malignaggi, who improves to 32-4 with 7 KOs; Cano, who weighed in at 147.8 pounds, falls to 26-2-1 with 20 KOs.
Malignaggi controlled the first round behind his jab, with the slower Cano unable to get any significant offense going outside of a hard right hand in the final 30 seconds.
Cano got busier in the second, landing some hard shots along with several low blows that drew a warning from referee Steve Smoger. Malignaggi had the last word though, sending Cano back to his corner with a cut over his left eye.
The third round contained several good exchanges (and another low blow warning for Cano), and the pattern emerging was of Cano landing flush single shots and Malignaggi delivering a higher volume of punches. Which fighter would break first though?
As the fourth round commenced, Malignaggis head movement was non-existent, and Cano took advantage with long, straight shots to the head. But with the crowd chanting his name, Malignaggi got back to sticking his jab and using his lateral movement to keep the Mexico native guessing.
The cut began to visibly bother Cano in the fifth, as he pawed at it a number of times, and there was no question that Malignaggi was going to be targeting it as the fight progressed.
The sixth round was fought well on both ends, Cano landing with hard right hands and Malignaggi drilling his foe with jabs, but there was nothing getting through that seemed to bother the Mexican battler too much as he marched forward.
Malignaggi had a solid eighth round as Cano slowed down slightly until a late round surge. Canos cut wasnt getting any better either, but his corner was keeping him in the fight, and he got back to sharpshooting the Brooklyn native in round nine.
Frustrating Cano for much of the tenth round, Malignaggi had a good run until a left hook late in the frame landed flush, waking the Tlanepantla native up and drawing a roar from his section of supporters.
After a strong 11th round, Malignaggi got dropped by a right hand in the final 30 seconds, and while he rose quickly, his legs were shaky as Cano moved in for the finish, only to be interrupted by the bell.
45 seconds into the final round, Cano landed flush with the right again, but this time Malignaggi was able to take it well. Cano wasnt about to stop throwing it though, and as the clocked ticked down, chants of Mexico, Mexico filled the arena, capping off a wild 12 rounder.