By Chris Robinson
With all the boxing stars in attendance at this weekend’s ‘Ring Kings’ event in Las Vegas, Brooklyn’s Paulie Malignaggi has still stood out in drawing a special kind of buzz.
This past weekend, Malignaggi pulled off a notable upset as he traveled to Vyacheslav Senchenko’s hometown of Donetsk, Ukraine and captured the WBA welterweight championship with a one-sided 9th round TKO.
Now a champion in his second weight class, Malignaggi is basking in the glow of his latest triumph and also finds himself in the thick of discussions pertaining to matchups in the welterweight division.
Malignaggi took some time to break down this weekend’s main event, as Miguel Cotto will be defending his WBA junior middleweight crown against the ultra confident Floyd Mayweather Jr. at the MGM Grand.
Feeling the matchup is nearly a 50/50 fight, Malignaggi offered up some insight into the bout.
“I think if it goes the distance Floyd gets it,” Malignaggi would tell me inside of the media center at the MGM Grand. “I can see Cotto possibly breaking Floyd down and landing a body shot late in the fight, or I can see Floyd out boxing him. If Floyd’s going to win, I got Floyd on points. If Cotto’s going to win I got Cotto by stoppage.”
Malignaggi knows Cotto very well, as he courageously battled through a broken orbital bone during his June 2006 decision loss to the Puerto Rican bomber in New York. A victim of some definite punishment in that fight, Malignaggi spoke on the dangerous abilities that Cotto possesses.
“Not just head, head and shoulders,” Malignaggi said of Cotto's well-rounded attack. “Because he’s more than just a puncher, he’s a guy who does a lot of things well. He’s very good at disrupting your rhythm, your timing, breaking up your concentration. He’s very hard, he’s rough, he’s physical, and he takes it to you. He’s got a good jab, an underrated, hard jab; he’s got a lot of weapons.”
Mayweather is known for his pre-fight trash talk and his ability to get into his opponents’ heads, yet against Cotto he has shown a tremendous amount of respect throughout the lead up to their fight. Malignaggi feels that Mayweather’s actions, or lack thereof, are revealing.
“Just the way Floyd’s been talking to him, I think Floyd’s very prepared too,” said Malignaggi. “Floyd’s been very respectful and you hear Floyd talk like that, usually he talks a little brash, and when he talks like that it usually means he’s training hard because he’s got a tough opponent in front of him.”
Mayweather takes a great amount of pride in his 42-0 record with 26 knockouts but Malignaggi won’t lose any respect for him if he comes up short tonight.
“To me, it doesn’t take anything away from Floyd,” Malignaggi stated. “Even if Floyd loses the fight, to me he’s the best fighter I’ve ever seen. If he doesn’t lose this fight, nobody beats him. This is the biggest risk for Floyd.”