Garcia stops Malignaggi to extend unbeaten record

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Gregory Payan
Gregory Payan
Gregory Payan

Danny Garcia extended his unbeaten record to 31 fights with a ninth-round TKO of Paulie Malignaggi on Saturday evening as part of the second annual event of Premier Boxing Champions on ESPN in front of 7,237 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

Garcia had come off three controversial fights against Mauricio Herrera, Rod Salka, and Lamont Peterson, respectively.

Many ringside observers and fans felt that Garcia was beaten by both Herrera and Peterson, while the Salka fight was heavily criticized – and rightfully so – for the mismatch that it was. Garcia was bigger, faster, stronger, and that’s an understatement. The fight should have never happened.

It’s been a continuation of shortcomings that have put Garcia into this precarious position. Now a full-fledged welterweight, Garcia had to prove his worth in the ring on Saturday.

Malignaggi was back in the ring following a 15-month layoff after suffering the worst beating of his career that April against former IBF titleholder Shawn Porter.

For the ‘Magic Man,’ it was a chance to prove if he could still hang in there with a championship caliber opponent.

Known for being a slick boxer with a superior jab, it was noted before the fight that Malignaggi had landed more jabs than any championship caliber fighter in the last eight fights. It was now or never for Malignaggi.

In a close first round, Malignaggi had a slight edge as he was more accurate. Garcia, who is not known for being a fast starter, had trouble finding the elusive Malignaggi, although ‘Swift’ managed to sneak in a right hand.

In the third round, Garcia cut Malignaggi over the right eye when he had the Brooklyn native on the ropes. Although he had his man in trouble, Malignaggi was still scoring on the inside with precise body shots, utilizing his signature head movement to avoid Garcia’s right.

However, Malignaggi ran into trouble again when he was cut below his right eye, adding insult to injury on what was already a tough evening.

Garcia (31-0, 18 KO’s) took control of what was an even fight up to that point in the second half, firing right hands and walking a shot Malignaggi down. Even when Malignaggi tagged Garcia clean with an uppercut on the chin, Garcia kept on coming like Nicolas Cage in Con Air.

With Malignaggi’s face a mess, referee Arthur Mercante halted the bout to have the ringside doctor examine Malignaggi’s cut, in which ruled that Malignaggi was good enough to continue.

However, on wobbly legs, a determined Garcia sent Malignaggi wheeling into the ropes, and Mercante called an end to the fight, although Malignaggi tried to plead his case to allow the fight to continue.

It was not a dominating performance from Garcia by any sense of the word, but he got the job done. The question is now: how will he fare against top fighters in his weight class like Keith Thurman, Amir Khan, Shawn Porter, and Kell Brook?

Malignaggi was in tears following the fight, perhaps a sign that his tremendous career has finally seen the final curtain, but unlike many athletes, Malignaggi can leave content knowing that he has a second career in television broadcasting, where it appears now his skills are most fit.

Thank you for all that you have done for the sport as a fighter, Paulie. We look forward to many more years with you in the booth, even if this isn’t the final fight.