By Keith Idec
One of Paulie Malignaggi’s broadcast partners asked him toward the end of Showtime’s telecast Saturday night if he, too, felt Vyacheslav Senchenko’s knockout body blow.
Malignaggi smiled at the figurative suggestion, but blowing a seven-figure payday obviously was no laughing matter at ringside in Manchester, England. The WBA welterweight champion acknowledged after Senchenko’s ninth-round knockout victory over Ricky Hatton that had Hatton won his handlers would’ve promptly begun negotiations for a rematch with the immensely popular British star’s representatives.
A Hatton-Malignaggi rematch would’ve been brought to Barclays Center in Malignaggi’s native Brooklyn, N.Y., but Malignaggi admitted that Hatton’s loss eliminated it as an option for his next fight. Hatton, who announced his retirement again in the post-fight press conference, stopped Malignaggi in the 11th round of a one-sided fight four years ago in Las Vegas, but Malignaggi regained some status within the boxing business by beating Juan Diaz and Senchenko since Hatton defeated him.
“I don’t know,” said Malignaggi (32-4, 7 KOs), who stopped Senchenko in the ninth round to take Senchenko’s WBA welterweight title April 29 in Donetsk, Ukraine, Senchenko’s hometown. “I guess we’ll go back to the drawing board and figure out our future. We were planning on fighting Ricky Hatton next. We were planning on going to the negotiating table with his team, and I don’t think that’s going to happen now.”
Malignaggi was confident during the fight that the 34-year-old Hatton would win his first fight since Filipino superstar Manny Pacquiao knocked him unconscious 3½ years ago in Las Vegas. Hatton was ahead on all three scorecards (78-74, 77-76, 77-76) when Senchenko landed a perfect left hook to the body that temporarily paralyzed Hatton, rendering him unable to get off the canvas and continue.
“[Hatton] was a bit overanxious, but I can’t say I was surprised,” Malignaggi said. “I expected an overanxious fighter. He was fighting for the first time in 3½ years, in front of a very vociferous crowd [Saturday night].
“You know, I can’t say I was totally surprised about anything. I had him winning the fight close, but then he got caught with the body shot. He was being the typical Ricky Hatton. Maybe he was a little off, but he was fighting a Ricky Hatton kind of fight.”
Moment earlier, Malignaggi expressed some surprise that Hatton (45-3, 32 KOs) didn’t wear down Senchenko (33-1, 22 KOs).
“We were talking about Senchenko coming apart and folding, and he never did,” Malignaggi said. “He mentally stayed with it and that’s something that was surprising to me and I think a lot of other people.”
Malignaggi added that Hatton would’ve been better served facing a softer foe in his first fight back. Hatton was adamant, however, that he wanted to test himself against a championship-caliber opponent to find out if he still could compete at a high level.
“I think he should’ve taken a tune-up fight,” Malignaggi said. “I don’t think he should’ve went right into this type of fight. For being out 3½ years, he didn’t fight badly. No, he fought a pretty good fight.
“It’s just you can’t … even though [he didn’t fight] a bad fight, you still fought a world-level fighter. And you don’t do that after not fighting for 3½ years, no matter who you are.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.