By Keith Idec
Other than Kell Brook, there probably wasn’t another fighter in boxing happier than Paulie Malignaggi when Ricky Hatton announced he’ll return to the ring Nov. 24 in his native Manchester, England.
Malignaggi must concentrate on his Oct. 20 title defense against Pablo Cesar Cano, but the WBA welterweight champion cannot hide his interest in squaring off against Hatton again. The immensely popular British boxer stopped Malignaggi (31-4, 27 KOs) in the 11th round of their scheduled 12-round, 140-pound fight in November 2008.
Malignaggi maintains, however, that his ill-fated partnership with trainer James “Buddy” McGirt was a factor in a fight Malignaggi clearly was losing when referee Kenny Bayless stopped it at MGM Grand.
“I’m pretty sure I’ll get him; I’ll put it that way,” Malignaggi, 31, said to BoxingScene.com. “I really would be surprised if he came back and didn’t fight me. I think after I beat Cano I’ll worry more about it, but … I expect to fight him.”
The 33-year-old Hatton hasn’t announced his next opponent, but a fight against Malignaggi in 2013 would be an attractive fight for Golden Boy Promotions to stage at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, Malignaggi’s home borough.
Hatton (45-2, 32 KOs) will compete at welterweight during his comeback, a weight class above where he retired following a devastating second-round knockout loss to Manny Pacquiao (54-4-2, 38 KOs) in May 2009 in Las Vegas. He won the WBA championship Malignaggi owns by barely beating Luis Collazo by unanimous decision six years ago in Boston.
Malignaggi, a former IBF junior welterweight champion, will meet Mexico’s Cano (25-1-1, 19 KOs) at Barclays Center as part of a Showtime Championship Boxing quadruple header in 4½ weeks. The Cano clash will mark Malignaggi’s first defense of the WBA 147-pound crown he won from Vyacheslav Senchenko (32-1, 21 KOs), whom Malignaggi stopped in the ninth round April 29 in Donetsk, Ukraine, Senchenko’s hometown.
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.