Most of the back-and-forthing between boxers is basically bravado and fun and games. Designed, for the most part, to drum up interest in an event and help the bottom line. But things got more than a bit personal when Broner brought in someone from Malignaggi’s past and inserted her into the discussion as this promotion kicked off a few months ago.
“I mean, I thought it would be all shtick and it was all shtick but he brought in a girl that faked a pregnancy on me,” explained Malignaggi (yes, you read that correctly). “She was never my girlfriend but in her attempt to completely stalk me and try to be my girl, she actually invented a pregnancy on me. So for a couple of months out of my life, I had to tend to this and figure this out and at the end, she ended up not being pregnant, which was always kinda on my mind but you just never know. I had to tend to that.”
(Could you imagine Tom Brady and Peyton Manning ever hurling stuff like this at each other in the lead-up to a Patriots-Broncos game? Or Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal trading volleys like this before Wimbledon?)
“Then obviously, I got rid of her completely. She was in my circles but I had to really work to kick her ass outta there. It was literally work. By him doing what he did, it kinda brought her back into the mix and into the circle and of all people, I did not need that problem. It was a problem I had finally rid myself of and it’s something where she actually got herself a bridge to get back in the mix and I know I don’t have to deal with this after this fight and a month after this fight. Right now, I’m focusing in on a fight but he basically caused me a problem that I had basically rid myself of. And for that, it kinda ticked me off. I had worked hard to get rid of that problem,” said Malignaggi of the low-blow thrown by “The Problem.”
For Malignaggi, this whole episode was a real-life episode of “Maury.” But fortunately for him, he was not the father.
In the age of social media and sites like Twitter, now it doesn’t take all that much to engage in such tomfoolery and have a sizable audience to witness it. Malignaggi, the self-proclaimed “Twitter King,” says the dynamic has been forever changed - and not necessarily for the better. “It really has but it is kinda disrespectful; y’ know what I mean? The social media and Twitter has gotten out of hand and stuff and changed the dynamic of promoting but you still gotta keep it to a degree, classy and stuff like that.”
And Malignaggi is bothered by Broner’s brash persona.
“All this guy talks about is his clothes, his money. You’d think he was born with money. Till a couple of years ago, he had no money. You look at the Muhammad Ali-style of talking trash; he never brought up his money. Hector Camacho, as wild as he was, the big chains he used to wear, he never actually talked about how much they cost. So this whole thing about bragging about, ‘how much money I have. I’m better than you’ and stuff; it’s totally bullsh*t.
“Because he’s getting to the point now where now he’s fighting people with more money than him or fighting guys who have made just as much money as him. But the fact of the matter is they actually earned their money. He’s now at a point where he’s fighting a guy who’s made a lot of money as well - except my money’s been hard-earned. His money has been given to him.”
To Malignaggi, Broner is “Swap Meet Louie Vuitton.”
“He is a [Floyd] Mayweather knock-off but he’s a cheap knock-off,” says Malignaggi. “Some of it is the Mayweather influence and I think the Mayweather influence comes from the hip-hop influence. It comes from the hip-hop generation where rappers are always talking about how much their cars cost, how much their chains cost and all that stuff. So it’s only becoming a negative influence and I’m a fan of hip-hop but it’s actually starting to feed into the boxing in a negative way though.”
Putting all this aside, can this fight live up to what’s been said and Tweeted by this duo? Have the pre-fight shenanigans created an unrealistic expectation of the actual fight?
“I don’t know,” said Malignaggi. “The fight’s going to evolve in a lot of different ways, so it’s interesting. It could turn dull; it could not turn dull. I’m going to do what I have to to win. I don’t necessarily feel I have to run all the time to win because I don’t think he’s a big guy but he’s telling everyone he’s coming to knock me out and stuff like that. So if he comes to knock me out - we’ll have a good fight.”
Paulie is the consummate boxer. As far as punching, well, his right hand couldn’t break a smoke ring but he has a quick, accurate jab with good boxing skills. He believes he will come out victorious by being himself but adds, “I have to be a sharp me. But at the same time, I can be a bit more macho because I’m fighting a guy who’s smaller and I don’t believe the power carries up the same way.”
Broner has been impressive but his career path has been carefully matched. Malignaggi says bluntly, “I think it’s been a mirage. I think it’s been an Al Haymon creation and now it’s judgment day.” Meanwhile, just look at Malignaggi’s résumé. Say what you will about him but the “Magic Man” is as battle-tested as they come.
“I’m the best guy he’s ever faced,” he says, flatly. “He’s not in the top four or five guys [for me]; that’s for sure. His talent is up there but what has he actually proven? So that’s interesting because I’m the biggest underdog of my career. He’s getting paid more than me - which is very disrespectful on my promoter’s part and I’ll address that at the fight more so than I’ll address it now - but believe me; there will be a lot of venom spewed.”
But there’s a reason Broner is the prohibitive favorite here. And much of that has to do with how badly Malignaggi struggled in his last bout Pablo Cesar Cano (who was then defeated by Shane Mosley) back in October. Malignaggi says he simply had problems getting mentally motivated for that contest and was then hindered by a cut in training camp, limiting his ability to spar. To cap it off, he suffered a broken right thumb during that fight.
He insists that version of Malignaggi will not be the one who steps into the ring on Saturday night. This isn’t just a broadcaster who just happens to still dabble in boxing.
“Fights like this get me motivated, where you can add to your legacy or start up a legacy, however you want to look at it. They motivate you. Also, fights like this pay you a lot more than the TV gig. At the end, fights like this exist for me. It doesn’t dull the passion for me. If I only had small fights and I had to get back into small fights, I don’t think I would have the motivation.”
On June 7th, 2008, Kelly Pavlik easily dispatched the overmatched Gary Lockett in defense of his middleweight title. Opening up that HBO broadcast was a shockingly easy first round TKO of Daniel Ponce de Leon by Juan Manuel Lopez, who captured the WBO 122-pound title in the win. Back then, Pavlik was packing the house in Atlantic City and Lopez looked to be the next Puerto Rican star. And for a few years, he was a legitimate draw on the Eastern Seaboard and the island where he built a sizable following.
Top Rank believed that they had two pillars to build around for years moving forward alongside the likes of Manny Pacquiao and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
But as you fast-forward to 2013, Pavlik is retired and “JuanMa” seems very close to that after getting blown out by the sharp-punching Mikey Garcia this past weekend in Dallas. Lopez is a fun-yet-flawed fighter and after wars with the likes of Rogers Mtagwa and then getting put through the meat grinder twice versus the hard-edged Orlando Salido, he looks as old as any 29-year-old boxer in this game.
On the flipside, Garcia, who lost his WBO featherweight title on the scales, looks to be a fighter whose (as George Allen would say) future is now. At age 25, he is now just entering his physical prime and has a supreme skill-set. Perhaps there are flashier fighters around but you’d be hard-pressed to find one as fundamentally grounded and as technically sound as Garcia. He’s as calculating as an accountant and as deadly accurate as a military sniper.
This is a bold statement but he’s the closest thing to Juan Manuel Marquez I’ve ever seen. His sense of timing and precision is unerring. Now what we have yet to find out if he has Marquez’s intangibles: toughness, grit and fighting spirit.
But boxing fans can’t wait to find out.
It was another very good edition of “Fight Night” on NBC Sports Network on Friday, where we saw heavyweight hopeful Bryant Jennings get pushed by Andrey Fedosov early on. But Jennings was then able to turn the tide and stop the rugged Russian in six rounds. Who knows if he’s ready to face the likes of the Klitschko brothers just yet? But experiences like this will help this process.
However, the real star of this show was the Russian wrecking ball, Sergey Kovalev, who overpowered and overwhelmed Cornelius White in three. Kovalev, who has become this series and Main Event’s latest creation, looks to have a very bright future. He has two-fisted power and a crowd-pleasing style. His bout with White was an IBF light heavyweight eliminator and now he sees himself in a position where he could face either Bernard Hopkins (who has that belt) or Nathan Cleverly, who holds the WBO version of the title.
Regardless, Kovalev is a fighter on the rise and you’ll be seeing him soon on larger platforms and in bigger fights.
I know it’s very early but just keep an eye on Oscar Valdez...Matt Korobov was able to stop Ossie Duran in three rounds. Not many guys have been able to do that. Is it now finally his time to get to that next level?...I think Terence Crawford is very talented but let’s see him in a few real fights at 135 before crowning him...I could never see the Lakers and Clippers ever doing a big deal together in any shape or fashion...So is “Man of Steel” worth watching? [Editor’s note: YES] To me, it didn’t get any better than Christopher Reeves as Superman...I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and I tweet at www.twitter.com/stevemaxboxing. We also have a Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/MaxBoxing, where you can discuss our content with Maxboxing readers as well as chime in via our fully interactive article comments sections.