Former two division world champion Paulie Malignaggi will make his return to the ring after a significant layoff August 1st on PBC on ESPN.
After over a year has passed since the last time we saw Malignaggi in the ring, a bout that saw the “Magic Man” get steamrolled by the younger and stronger Shawn Porter; many thought we’d seen the last of the divisive Brooklyn boxer.
However, Paulie is returning to competition against a fighter who has become a divisive figure in his own right after a string of controversial wins, Danny Garcia.
Malignaggi, who had looked impressive in a controversial split decision loss to Adrien Broner and a decisive unanimous decision win over fellow Brooklyn product Zab Judah, was overpowered in a fourth-round knockout at the hands of Shawn Porter. Paulie himself even questioned rather or not it was time to call it a career.
As the months passed, it became clear that he wasn’t quite ready to step away from the fight game once and for all. A fight against Danny O’Connor was set for May 29th.
After a cut sustained in training derailed the return fight, a new round of names leaked out as potential dance partners for Malignaggi’s comeback. Despite the talk of a showdown with the likes of Shane Mosley, Paulie was instead chosen to welcome former 140 lb champion Danny Garcia to the welterweight division.
Some might consider this to be a jump back into deep waters too soon against a young, rising star in Garcia, regardless of the quality of his last few performances. Paulie, on the other hand, believes that he’s seen weaknesses in Danny’s game. Weaknesses that he can expose.
“We have some tricks up our sleeves for this fight.” said Malignaggi on a conference call with the media leading up to the fight.
“I have seen strengths and weaknesses all over Danny [Garcia]. When I watch a fight, I see it a lot deeper than most people. So when I watch Danny, I see a lot of different things. I don’t want to get too much into it, but there are definitely things we have seen that we are working on.”
Perhaps one of the holes Paulie has spotted is the trouble Garcia has shown in cutting the ring off against boxers with movement. Mauricio Herrera first exposed this against Danny in Puerto Rico in 2014, and then Lamont Peterson further exhausted the point in frustrating Garcia over a 12 round loss in April.
Malignaggi has always been known for his quick footwork and boxing ability. He’ll hope to follow the pattern laid out by Herrera and Peterson, all the while avoiding Danny’s fight ending power.
While Garcia has built a solid following in Brooklyn in fights at the Barclay’s Center, Paulie still figures to be the hometown favorite, in this his fourth fight at the Barclay’s Center and sixteenth fight of his career in New York City.
“Barclays Center in my home. Fighting here gives me that extra motivation. Fighting at Barclays, in front of all my friends and family, it just doesn’t get better than that.”
The battle between Malignaggi and Garcia will be one of youth versus experience. Will Malignaggi be able to outbox and outsmart the young, powerful Garcia? Or will we see a return of the “Swift” that had many thinking we were seeing the birth of a new pound-for-pound king just a short time ago?
Will this be the final chapter for Malignaggi or is this the beginning of a late career resurgence for the ‘Magic Man?’
One thing’s for sure, Malignaggi is confident that his answer to these questions is far different than we would’ve thought a year ago.