By Chris Robinson
One of the most colorful characters in the sport of boxing had a memorable Saturday as Paulie Malignaggi claimed the WBA welterweight championship after scoring a 9th round TKO over Vyacheslav Senchenko in his opponent’s hometown of Donetsk, Ukraine.
Malignaggi was sharp from the outset and busted up Senchenko’s left eye so severely that referee Steve Smoger opted to halt the bout after nine rounds of action. Now a champion again in a second division, Malignaggi will surely be in line for some lucrative fights later in the year and the 31-year old certainly had some notable figures watching his latest showcase.
“I watched the fight and I thought Paulie looked great,” claimed Kevin Cunningham, trainer to former champion and welterweight contender Devon Alexander. “After the first three rounds I felt that if Paulie’s conditioning held up, he could dominate the guy. That’s exactly what he did.”
Cunningham has been eyeing Malignaggi as a potential foe ever since the Italian-born, Brooklyn-bred fighter dissed Alexander for the fashion in which his January 2011 bout with Timothy Bradley ended. In that fight, Alexander suffered a nasty cut above his right eye from an accidental head-butt and opted not to continue on with the action in the tenth round due to the severity of the gash.
Alexander and Cunningham would end up firing back shots of their own at Malignaggi and a little bit of a feud began to brew between the two sides but has since dissipated. And despite reaching out to several media outlets to express his interest in a Malignaggi-Alexander fight on August 18th, Cunningham has since taken a different approach.
“To be honest with you, I don’t even know,” stated Cunningham. “Paulie just had a great win and I was a happy for him. I don’t want to even talk like Devon and Paulie, like that fight is getting ready to happen. There are several people that Paulie could fight. There are several people who Devon could fight. If the fight’s available, we’d love to make the fight.
“There’s a lot history between Devon and Paulie,” Cunningham continued. “A lot of history and a lot of bad blood and it seems like a natural fit, but if it doesn’t happen, there’s lots of fights for both of those guys to fight. We just have to wait and see.”
Cunningham has reason to be confident in his fighter, as Alexander, the former IBF and WBC champion at 140 pounds, successfully made the transition to the welterweight ranks in February with a thorough schooling of Argentinean terror Marcos Maidana, one of the fiercest punchers in the sport.
Whoever Alexander faces, be it Malignaggi or anyone else, Cunningham likes his chances.
“I’m confident that we can beat anybody in the welterweight division,” Cunningham claimed. “I’m always confident. Because I knew he wasn’t himself at 140. He fought one of the most dangerous fighters in all of boxing in his first fight at 147 and dominated him. He handled Maidana like nobody’s ever handled him. It was a big win, he dominated a great fighter, and it’s onward and upward.”