By Rick Reeno
There is certainly no love between former junior welterweight champion Paulie Malignaggi and WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao. Because of the ongoing complications to finalize a fight between Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr., Malignaggi is the frontrunner to replace Mayweather as Pacquiao's opponent on March 13 in Las Vegas.
On paper, the popular opinion has Pacquaio winning an easy fight. Not so fast, says Malignaggi. BoxingScene.com spoke with Malignaggi on Saturday to get his opinion on why he believes his style will present Pacquiao with some issues.
“People can say whatever they want but styles make fights. They can keep pointing to what happened with Ricky Hatton but I’m not the same fighter. I have a new trainer. [Sherif Younan]. I train totally different now. I’m training with different methods that focus on my strengths,” Malignaggi told BoxingScene. ”I get better with every single camp under Sherif. I see the improvements in the gym and improvements in the ring with every camp.”
“I’m a boxer who knows how to fight defensive and set my opponent up. Pacquiao can be set up. He fights all of these flat-footed guys who come to kill him. Now he has to deal with a guy who can outbox him and cost him rounds.”
The biggest concern for Pacquiao’s opponents is his speed. Malignaggi is not concerned with the speed. In almost every fight, Malignaggi is the much quicker man. Against Pacquiao the issue of “who is quicker” is up for debate.
“I can match Pacquiao with speed. He has what I like to call reckless speed. I have intelligent speed. I know how to attack that kind of speed with timing. I’ll admit that he is a very explosive fighter but he can be timed. He fights all of these guys who are flat footed and aggressive and they can’t time him….I can. If he’s going to come in with that that reckless speed, it’s going to cost him rounds,” Malignaggi said.
Like most fights, Pacquiao-Malignaggi does have a story. While never directly accusing Pacquiao of using performance enhancing drugs, Paulie was one the first fighters to question Pacquiao’s accomplishments and his ability to dominate much bigger fighters. Malignaggi told BoxingScene last month that he thought something “fishy” was going on with the way Pacquiao was able to deal with Miguel Cotto’s size and power.
“I admit that he's a very good fighter but I don’t like the guy. I don’t respect the guy for my own personal reasons,” Malignaggi said.