Paulie Malignaggi (33-7, 7 KO’s) was contemplating life after boxing when speaking to Boxing News Online following his loss to the undefeated Danny Garcia (31-0, 18 KO’s) on Saturday night at his home in Brooklyn, New York.
He was halted in nine rounds as Garcia stepped up to the 147 lb. division for the first time after a pair of maligned catch-weight bouts against Rod Salka and Lamont Peterson.
The young Philadelphian professed to have more energy through this fight than on recent occasions and seems ready to push on to the big fights in his newfound division.
Malignaggi, however, appears to have reached the end of a long and prosperous career.
He has lost three of his last four fights and been halted twice inside the distance, doubling the entire stoppage loss tally for his entire career.
He has entered the ring competitively just four times in three years as a new avenue behind the commentary table became increasingly well-traveled, perhaps removing another reason to maintain a busy schedule aside from having just passed his thirty-fifth birthday.
Malignaggi has been widely applauded for his efforts there and envisions a future behind the mic in a job that will allow him to maintain close ties with the sport that has consumed him for the last two decades.
“I’ve got a really good job commentating and watching great fighters fight ringside. I hope to sit around ringside for a long time.”
Malignaggi conceded Garcia slowly ground down his resistance, a feat few former foes have been able to accomplish. In the midst of the action he was focusing on survival, to make it to the next big fight, until reality slowly made itself obvious.
“I felt like if I couldn’t put up a great performance tonight then it would be my last. I was trying to hang tough as much as I could. I remember when I was taking big shots I just kept thinking: ‘Don’t give in. This is your last night if you give in. Don’t show that you’re going to give in. If you can show that you’re still hungry for it, then you’ll convince yourself that this isn’t the end.’ I wanted to keep showing that I want it. Little by little he broke me down, and I have no problem with the stoppage.”
These words must have stuck in the craw of a proud fighter like Malignaggi, who in his younger days went the distance with a destructive version of Miguel Cotto at light-welterweight, despite the small issue of a broken jaw suffered in the second round.
All the power lacking in Malignaggi’s fists must have been rerouted to his will at some stage in his formation because he had a knack for hanging on in tough fights longer than he had any right to, especially so against Cotto, Ricky Hatton and Amir Khan, who were dishing out serious punishment for prolonged periods.
All seven of his losses have come to top-notch pros; Miguel Cotto, Ricky Hatton, Juan Diaz (the result was debatable, but Diaz was a young fighter with serious momentum at the time, and besides, Malignaggi beat him in an immediate rematch), Amir Khan, Adrien Broner, Shawn Porter, and now Danny Garcia.
Only the final two defeats were any cause for concern. In 2013, he lost to Broner in a razor-tight affair, but Porter just steamrolled him in four rounds four months later. 15 months out of action and this latest loss would seem to indicate Malignaggi’s capacity for top-level competition has finally run out.
“I’m probably not fighting again. You hate to make an emotional decision. My career started in Brooklyn 14 years ago. If it ends in Brooklyn tonight, then at least I ended it at home where I’m from, and in front of the greatest fans in the world.”
Malignaggi wears his heart on his sleeve at all times and this must have been an emotional night for him. The realisation that this stage in of his life -in which he elevated his name to prominence and achieved fame and fortune- is over must have hit him harder than any gloved right hand he’s ever taken. At least he got to go out in front of his home fans.
Malignaggi spoke at length before this fight about his legacy; whether he would be an acceptable entry into the International Boing Hall of Fame. That kind of indicated where his head was at before he stepped through the ropes: “how will I be remembered as a fighter when I’m done?”
He will most likely be remembered as ‘that guy with seven knockouts’ by those who skirt over the sport every couple of months. But for those who recognise what he truly was will know him as more.
Malignaggi was a skilful, tough, fast fighter who managed to win two world titles despite lacking anything near respectable power. His fragile paws were often injured meaning his deficit in this area was compounded further but rarely did this keep him out of the ring.
Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao are the only glaring absences from his resume and that speaks more for them than him given the power they exercise over whom they fight.
He is a former two-weight world champion who traveled to the Ukraine as a heavy underdog to gain a rare stoppage for his second belt at welterweight.
He never disgraced himself.
He has achieved more than 90% of boxers ever will. If Arturo Gatti was granted a place in the Hall of Fame, Malignaggi is a must as well.