by David P. Greisman
Paulie Malignaggi just finished a shift at his day job — he won a unanimous decision last week against Zab Judah — and already he’s back at work in his other gig.
Malignaggi has a bruised right hand and a small bandage over his left eye, but he’s in San Antonio for his job as commentator for Showtime, which is broadcasting a card Saturday night featuring a main event of Adrien Broner vs. Marcos Maidana.
Broner-Maidana is also of particular interest to Malignaggi the fighter; he wants to face the winner. Malignaggi lost his world title to Broner via split decision this past June.
He spoke with BoxingScene.com on Dec. 13, prior to the Broner-Maidana weigh-in.
BoxingScene.com: I know that you want the winner of tomorrow night’s fight between Adrien Broner and Marcos Maidana, but do you have a rooting interest in who you want more than the other?
Malignaggi: “No, not really. I think it’d be a good challenge against either opponent. I like fighters that will challenge me, force me to be at my best in order to win, and I think both of these guys will force me to be at my best if I was to beat them. I’m fine with either guy winning.”
BoxingScene.com: So a second shot at Broner isn’t more important to you than a first shot at Maidana?
Malignaggi: “A second shot at Broner definitely is interesting. I’m just not going to root against Maidana just for that selfish reason. I think Maidana deserves it just as much as Broner deserves it. From my personal preference, yeah, a rematch with Broner and going through the whole circus and everything, yeah, getting a chance to do it again and make it right — absolutely, it’s very interesting to me. But I’m not going to root against a guy who deserves a lot, like Marcos Maidana, just for the reason. So let it play out. What I want doesn’t matter anyway. What’s going to happen is going to happen. I’m interested in the winner.”
BoxingScene.com: You said you’re not rooting against Maidana, but do you give him a shot against Broner, and why or why not?
Malignaggi: “I haven’t joined the Adrien Broner Bandwagon. I certainly haven’t joined it now that I fought him and I’ve seen that he doesn’t stick out any more than any other world class fighter at welterweight. I think Maidana has just as much of a chance of beating Broner as Broner does of beating Maidana. We’ll see what happens. I’m curious to see the outcome of this fight as well.”
BoxingScene.com: You don’t think Maidana’s going to be too slow for Broner?
Malignaggi: “I don’t know. I mean, he’s definitely slower, but I think almost anybody’s slower than Broner. That didn’t stop him from having a few controversial, close decisions in his career. I think [Daniel] Ponce De Leon was a lot slower than Broner, and it didn’t matter. I don’t think a guy being slower makes all the difference. I think there’s other ways you can make up for that. It’s a matter of what kind of Maidana shows up. It’s a matter of what kind of Broner shows up.
“I think it’s a good fight. I think it can play out in a lot of ways. I really do. That’s why we have the fights. Whoever has the sharper night, whoever has the better night tomorrow, I think the winner of tomorrow’s fight really makes a big statement. It’s a big fight, and the winner comes out with a lot of luster, a lot of shine.”
BoxingScene.com: You made a statement last week against Zab Judah. Have you gone back and looked at the tape yet?
Malignaggi: “I saw the video, yeah. I thought we executed the game plan we wanted to. I was very confident in our game plan. It felt good. I felt like it was working in sparring. I was really looking forward to implementing and seeing how Judah reacted to it, because I knew everyone would be shocked by it. It worked.”
BoxingScene.com: What was the game plan?
Malignaggi: “Back him up. And not make him chase me. Not let him get forward momentum. He’s not the puncher he is when he has to fight backing up. A lot of fighters can’t fight going backwards and forward. There are great fighters that haven’t been able to fight going both directions. See, a lot of the simplemindedness of the media is they put a lot of stock in punching power and a lot of other guys. A fighter is more complete than anything else when he can fight going forward and backwards. Pernell Whitaker, for example, was not a big puncher, but he walked down a lot of his opponents.
“The media is so simpleminded and doesn’t have a high enough IQ to understand things like that. They look at punching power. They look at very simple things like that. And their simplemindedness actually blocks their knowledge. When you have a fighter that can fight going forward and backwards, it really makes him dangerous. In the last few years, I really worked a lot on my ability to fight going forward. I used it against Vyacheslav Senchenko when I won the title. I used it again last week against Zab Judah.
“I’ve always been able to fight going backwards. I feel like if I can be the kind of fighter that can win rounds going forward and backwards — great fighters, like Julio Cesar Chavez, couldn’t fight backing up. There’s great fighters that can’t fight going both ways. That’s probably one of the biggest keys in boxing, and not a lot of people see that or understand that. I wanted to implement that last week. I felt like it was a good chance to do that against Zab Judah, who is a guy I believed could not fight going backwards, and my game plan worked to a T.”
BoxingScene.com: When are you getting back in the ring?
Malignaggi: “Hopefully in the spring. I have some bruising on my right hand. It’s not injured or broken or anything, but bruising takes a little bit of time to heal. I’ll give that a chance to heal. I can’t see it happening any earlier than April, but I look forward to whoever it is against. Any big name is fine. There’s a lot of great fighters in and around my weight class, so anything is possible.”
Pick up a copy of David’s new book, “Fighting Words: The Heart and Heartbreak of Boxing,” at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsamazon or internationally at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsworldwide. Send questions/comments via email at [email protected]