By Keith Idec
NEW YORK — Paulie Malignaggi remembers what Adrien Broner told him a couple years ago.
The WBA welterweight champion believes Broner keeps talking about knocking him out because the undefeated fighter from Cincinnati is concerned what will happen if their title fight goes 12 rounds Saturday night at Barclays Center (Showtime; 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. ET). The brash, Brooklyn-bred Malignaggi made Broner smile during a news conference Thursday as he told the story about their conversation in the locker room at Freddie Roach’s Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, Calif., just before Broner boxed Mexico’s Daniel Ponce De Leon in March 2011.
“You remember in that locker room in the Wild Card gym a couple years ago, when you were getting ready to fight Ponce?,” Malignaggi asked Broner. “And we were in the locker room and you were all nervous about going the distance? You think I forgot that conversation you had with me? You think I forgot that conversation you had with me? ‘Hey Paulie, how you go all them rounds, man, because I’ve never been 10 rounds? And the fight is this Saturday night. How do you go 10 rounds?’
“And I had to explain to him how you go 10 rounds without mentally killing yourself. So he gets to the fight and he throws about 16 punches for 10 rounds. And thanks to [adviser] Al Haymon, he gets the decision. My man, you’re going 12 Saturday and I’m going to beat your ass.”
Broner (26-0, 22 KOs) defeated De Leon (44-5, 35 KOs) by unanimous decision in their 130-pound fight in Anaheim, Calif., but two judges scored it close (96-94, 96-94, 99-91) and it is commonly considered the toughest fight of Broner’s five-year pro career. The two-division champion’s victory over De Leon also marked the only time one of Broner’s professional fights exceeded eight rounds.
The 32-year-old Malignaggi (32-4, 7 KOs) has gone the distance in 10-round fights six times and in 12-round fights seven times during his 12-year pro career. Two of Malignaggi’s four defeats, to Ricky Hatton and Amir Khan, were stopped in the 11th round, but the game Malignaggi remained on his feet when both bouts ended.
Broner predicted his comparative inexperience in fights that go the distance won’t matter because he’ll become the first fighter to truly knock out Malignaggi, also a two-division champion.
“He’s never been knocked out,” said Broner, who owns one of boxing’s best knockout ratios (85 percent). “I’m going to knock him the [bleep] out.”
The 23-year-old Broner also dismissed the story his opponent told about their Wild Card conversation as a figment of Malignaggi’s imagination.
“Those are lies told [at] the podium,” Broner said. “He said I was in a dressing room with another guy. I don’t even like boxing half-naked guys, but I’m getting paid for it. … It’s OK. Fabrication is cool.”
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.