During his 11 years as a professional fighter Paulie Malignaggi has had his share of ups and downs, it’s been quite the roller coaster ride. He’s taken course that many of haven’t survived, from being a smoking hot prospect to a contender; from champion to being dethroned and now back to wearing the crown. There was a point in between his reigns as champion where he was even considering retirement.
Especially in boxing, the past defines you as who you are. If you can endure the bumps in the road the future will be bright. In April when Paulie attained the WBA Welterweight title by beating previously undefeated Vyacheslav Senchenko, he was proof of that statement.
Currently he’s in the driver seat; “The Magic Man” will be defending his belt Oct. 20th against Pablo Cesar Cano. The Barclay Center in Brooklyn, New York will be the venue for the event. Along with a title defense what makes this card so special for Paulie, being a Brooklyn native, is he will be opening up the brand new arena in his hometown. “It’s pretty surreal to know I’m defending a world championship in Brooklyn, in an arena like the Barclay Center. With probably a lot bigger fights after, as long as I handle my business. It’s going to be pretty crazy, I can’t wait to live that moment,” Malignaggi said.
While being on the west coast Paulie is training out of the famous Wild Card Gym. In getting ready for Cano, top preparation is an order. Addressing his training regimen Malignaggi states, “Its hard work, every day is a day closer to the fight, that’s how I look at it. You’ve got to work hard if you want to be successful.” As the days pass Paulie will be making his way back to New York to finish up camp. He told me either Oct. 5th or 6th he will be returning to be on a float in the Columbus Day Parade. Being the champ has its perks.
Through relationships he’s developed during his career, when in New York he will pretty much have his pick of gyms to complete his training. He and trainer Eric Brown are well versed on what Cano is capable of and will be using an array of Paulie’s skills to get the victory. “I can’t say I’ll be looking to exploit one particular thing. I try not to be closed minded about fights. He’s a guy who’s aggressive but yet can box a little bit as well. We are keeping our eyes open to what he’s going to try to do. He’s a body puncher so we are going to be ready to deal with that and counterpunch those. Just be pretty much as prepared as best we can,” Paulie proclaimed.
As we all know training isn’t just about readying yourself for what your opponent has to offer but also tuning up your own game. Even as he’s known to be such an outspoken person there’s humbleness to him. After a decade professionally Paulie acknowledges he can still get better by saying, “We are always trying to improve. We are always trying to get better. In the last 2 years you’ve seen my body punching coming together. You always try to become an all-around, well rounded fighter. Take away from your weaknesses without taking away from your strengths. It’s a balance you have to have and I believe I have the right trainer that does that. We work on improving our weaknesses without cutting away from our strengths. In the past I’ve wanted to do one thing and I’ve to do another thing. But in the end I’ve either stayed sharp with what I’ve had or if I’d try to learn new things it’s been at the expense of things I was always doing well.”
Last weekend Malignaggi showed off some of his out of the ring talents when he appeared as a commentator on Showtime Boxing’s Canelo Alvarez-Josesito Lopez card. His knowledge of the sport was on display as he seemed very comfortable, “It’s something that suits me well. I worked with a great team and they really made it a lot easier for me. Al Bernstein, Mauro Ranallo, Steve Farhood, Barry Tompkins, all those guys. I worked with some veteran guys who’ve been doing it a long time and made me feel at home and really made it easier for me. Brian Kenny too who was hosting the show,” Malignaggi stated.
On that card was an eliminator for Paulie’s WBA title between Marcos Maidana and Jesus Soto Karass. What a great fight it was with Marcos Maidana coming out victorious. Maidana entered the bout ranked 6th by the WBA and Soto Karass was ranked out of the top 10. Soto Karass was 2-4 in his last 6 and Maidana was coming off a loss in his only fight in the division. So how did “The Magic Man” feel about undeserving fighters having a chance to get close to his title, “I haven’t given it much thought. It is what it is; I worry about my own career. I don’t worry about what’s going on in the rankings and stuff like that. Not that it really matters. I don’t foresee me having to fight a number 1 contender or a mandatory contender anytime soon because there are so many options.”
Paulie’s thoughts on how Maidana looked that evening were similar to most in the boxing community, “He had a surprisingly good jab, it was a heavy jab, showed some new wrinkles. It was a good win for him, was a solid win coming back from a bad performance.” Maidana is now the mandatory challenger for the belt, but will that fight be next for the champ assuming a win over Cano? Malignaggi just very nonchalantly answered, “If it happens, it happens.”
So if not Maidana then will it be Ricky Hatton, who Paulie has been vocal about getting his revenge against. Malignaggi exclaimed, “I guess he’s coming back so there’s a possibility in the future that can work out. There’s also so much going on in the Welterweight division and with Golden Boy Promotions being my promoter they have so many doors they can open for me. It’s really exciting knowing the possibilities in 2013 are pretty big as long as I handle my business next month.”
The Oct. 20th card Malignaggi is featured on is one of many great cards that have been put together recently. To continue to fend off MMA the sweet science will need to keep producing events where the best fight the best. This end of the year push seems to be an annual trend, “Boxing always tries to close the year with a bang. They always like to close the show. They say close the show when your a fighting, boxing always closes the show when it comes to year end fights. They always try to put up big fights and this year is going to be no different. There are some spectacular cards coming up and the Barclay Center card is one of them,” Malignaggi remarked.
Not only is Paulie apart of what’s now in boxing, he has given us some memorable moments in years past. So it truly is fitting that his company’s name is Future Legend. The company’s focus is on clothing and being a model for life. To sum the movement up in a phrase perfectly Paulie stated, “It’s a springboard for driven people.” Being a champion in multiple weight classes and possibly more titles to come he himself is on the Future Legend path. But the legacy he leaves isn’t something Malignaggi concerns himself with saying, “It doesn’t really matter to me. I used to think about that kind of thing. You can’t change people’s mind, you can’t change the way they think. You can’t change their opinion on certain things. I really feel I’ve been misunderstood a lot in my career. As far as what I’ve said and things I’ve done. I’ve tried to put out there what I’ve stood for. I think a lot of times my IQ is on such a higher level of some of these people that they just don’t get me. They draw their own conclusions of me, which is fine. At this point it really isn’t an issue for me. I really don’t have an answer for how I want people to remember me.”
Cano will be waiting to meet Malignaggi in the center of the ring next month. Each will be eager to make the next step in their career. One attempting to become a world champion and the other looking towards unification in the division. In Paulie’s parting shots he expressed, “It’s really just a dream come true to be able to defend a title in Brooklyn. It’s hard to out it into words. No matter what I say I doesn’t describe the amount of excitement I have for this show next month. Words can’t do justice for how I feel. It’s really big for me.”