By Keith Idec
Paulie Malignaggi gained even more insight into the Caleb Truax-James DeGale rematch than he usually does while preparing for Showtime’s boxing broadcasts.
The Showtime analyst spent a significant portion of DeGale’s recently completed training camp advising DeGale and helping his head trainer, James McDonnell, get DeGale ready for his second fight against Truax. DeGale will attempt to win back his IBF super middleweight title from Truax in their 12-round rematch Saturday night at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.
England’s DeGale and Malignaggi have become friendly in recent years. DeGale’s appreciation of Malignaggi’s critiques of his performances made him ask Malignaggi to help him prepare to avenge his upset majority-decision defeat to Truax on December 9 in London.
Malignaggi couldn’t give away too many of the tactical adjustments they made during camp in London and Los Angeles, but he expects the 32-year-old DeGale to regain his title Saturday night.
“James has all the ability in the world,” Malignaggi told BoxingScene.com. “He can be as good as he wants to be. It’s just does he have the concentration to get there? Does he have the willingness to get there? Does he still wanna work as hard as he used to? Does he still love boxing as much as he used to? All of this stuff comes into play.
“If the answers are yes, you can start breaking down the tactical and analytical stuff because some of it is gonna get complicated and some of it is not gonna get complicated. And then, from there, you see how you execute it. I think he’s still young enough to make a little run. I expect him to win a super middleweight title on Saturday, and then we’ll take it from there.”
Malignaggi, a retired two-division champion, wanted to work DeGale’s corner Saturday night, alongside McDonnell. He offered to wear a microphone and give viewers a unique look inside a corner for a championship bout, but to keep the Truax-DeGale broadcast objective, Showtime’s producers decided to keep Malignaggi in his traditional ringside role.
DeGale (23-2-1, 14 KOs) is a 4-1 favorite over Truax (29-3-2, 18 KOs) in their rematch. Malignaggi doesn’t just want him to defeat Truax in the second of three fights Showtime will televise (10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT).
“I don’t just wanna see him better than he was December 9th,” Malignaggi said. “I wanna see him better than the last few performances. I had told him, to me, he was slipping even in the fights he was winning. The performances were getting progressively worse. He was taking shots he shouldn’t have been taking. Just some very distracted performances, you know? And sometimes, you have distracted performances because you’re not enjoying what you’re doing anymore. So your focus for three minutes of every round is not there in training. And then, of course, that translates to the fight. You have to be a very responsible fighter, not just when you’re outside the ring, the way you’re eating and not going out. I think that’s rather obvious.
“But I think you have to be responsible inside the ring, too, and not be distracted, stay focused and stay with a certain game plan, and focus on not being lazy in any spots or moments in the fight. I think that also comes from you being sick and tired of doing this. Focusing for three minutes of every round is hard. It’s not easy. It’s a mental stress. It’s a mental anguish. You can only really do it if you have a passion for what you’re doing. If you show me there’s passion behind what you’re doing, then we can start working on other things. I would like to think that James still has his passion. I thought that in this training camp he really showed that. Sometimes maybe the passion starts to burn again when something you really like is suddenly taken away from you, in this case the championship of the world. So we’ll see on Saturday night. But I like the way he’s been looking and I expect him to really shine Saturday night.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.