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Malignaggi vs. the Fanboys


At the opening press conference to formally announce this weekend’s bout at the Barclays Center (Showtime, 8 p.m., ET) in Brooklyn between Paulie Malignaggi and Zab Judah, the always talkative Malignaggi let loose a verbal barrage, not at his neighborhood rival but the media. And for a fighter with just seven knockouts to his credit in 37 professional outings (where he has notched a record of 32-5), it’s about as hard as he’s ever hit.
Yeah, he’s not necessarily impressed by who’s sitting on press row nowadays.
So what brought on this diatribe against today’s generation of boxing scribes?
Malignaggi told Maxboxing, “Here’s the thing: it’s things I’ve seen from my own career, things I’ve seen in boxing in general. None of these guys go out on a limb - with the exception of maybe Tom Hauser and Gabriel Montoya - talking about P.E.D.s and actually risk, put their necks on the line and risk their own jobs by reporting the stuff that’s necessary. Reporting stuff like P.E.D.s, reporting stuff like possible corruption behind the scenes, doing the investigative work - being actual reporters. Nobody wants to put their neck on the line and do that kind of job. They all just want to be fanboys and talk about, ‘Oh, pound-for-pound lists’ and ‘Who would beat this guy?’ and ‘This guy in 1908 would’ve beat this guy in 1995’ - Who gives a sh*t?! Are you fans or are you media; y’ know what I’m saying?”

He has a point. It’s not as if you have the likes of Jim Murray and Red Smith covering boxing anymore. In fact, most major newspapers long ago stopped covering the “Sweet Science” on a regular basis. Make no doubt about it; there are still solid, professional scribes who do an admirable job of covering the sport but nowadays, the traditional barriers of entry no longer exist and perhaps the vetting process isn’t nearly stringent enough. It does seem like anyone can get a ringside credential.
“So at the end of the day, these are the same people that will criticize a fighter for quitting on his stool. These are the same people that will criticize a fighter like Oscar De la Hoya after Felix Trinidad, having an early lead and them playing it safe and running away at the end of the fight, ‘Oh, well; he deserved it because he played it safe,’ - they play it more safe than anyone else and they have one/one-hundredth of the difficulty of a job that we have as fighters. They play it safer than us and criticize us for not taking the proper chances or doing this or doing that. So really it got to the point where it’s like I thought of the P.E.D.s and the problems we have in boxing now and all that stuff and I thought about it five years ago when I was talking about all this stuff,” said Malignaggi, who openly voiced suspicions about Manny Pacquiao before, ironically, actually training at the Wild Card Boxing Club a year or two later.
“I was being ridiculed mainly by the media. I thought about how when I fought the first Juan Diaz fight, going into the fight and I complained about, ‘Hey, man; we’re going to get robbed.’ I was basically looking for a life preserver; I was basically a drowning guy looking for a life preserver from the media, looking for them to step in and try to prevent that from happening and I said that at the press conference that, ‘I’m going to get robbed and this is what happens in Texas,’ and so on and so forth. And instead of taking my side, they made like I was making excuses for the impending loss I was about to take. These are people that are so stupid - beyond stupid. Some of these people, they have no business writing, especially [about] a sport as complicated as boxing and then we move on to even from a personal standpoint with [Adrien] Broner and the ridiculousness that came along with it and really gave it fuel to the fire.”
Ah, yes, the saga of “Jessica Sidepiece,” who was put in the middle of this oftentimes tasteless and misogynistic promotion this past summer. And according to Malignaggi, it was the lowest common denominator of today’s boxing press that ran with the story and gave her an unnecessary platform.
“I have a stalker in my life that still stalks me to this day because of that fight,” explained Malignaggi, getting more animated. “That girl still stalks me to this day. I cannot tweet where I’m at and you know what it is? I’ll tell you what it is: when you have a real ex-relationship, there’s a stalker - period - when the relationship ends. When you feel like, ‘OK, you fight with your ex, that’s allowed kinda, y’ know?’ This girl was never my girlfriend. That fact that she was a stalker in the first place was ridiculous. The fact that they multiplied the amount of ‘stalkerness’ that she had because they gave her the push and the pull because of the things they wrote and interviewed her and gave her stories and talked about her as my girlfriend.”
And now Malignaggi knows how Alec Baldwin feels.
“Now it made her believe that she dated me. It makes her the super-stalker that she is. I get random text messages, random emails. I’ve had to block her phone numbers. I still get the emails. I get calls from different numbers. I get texts from different numbers. I cannot tweet where I’m at because she will show up. It’s ridiculous and it was all brought on, not from Adrien Broner but who bit on it. The media did.”
Malignaggi lost that fight to Broner by decision, a ruling he does not necessarily contest but he objects to how some viewed the fight and what he believes were not-so-hidden agendas by those reporting on it. He says if you scored the fight nine round to three in favor of “The Problem” then, “You’re a Broner/Golden Boy/[Al] Haymon ass-kisser. That’s what you are.”
He says bluntly, “These are wannabe reporters, major fanboys acting as media and like I said at the press conference, if boxing was a mainstream sport in this country like it was 50, 60 years ago, none of these people would have jobs. Because you know who would have the job of covering boxing? Real media, real reporters, real people in the media, real journalists in general. And these fanboys would just have to sit home and be fans like everyone else. There’s nothing wrong with being a fan of boxing but don’t masquerade as a media person and as a serious media person, no less, when you’re just a fan - when you’re not looking to piss off the promoter so you can get a credential on fight night.”
In all fairness, you can’t paint everyone with this broad brush. There are many passionate individuals on press row who may not work for the New York Times or Sports Illustrated that are very talented, astute writers who love the sport of boxing and have much more enthusiasm and knowledge about what they are covering than those from the traditional media outlets. Sometimes, the last guys you want to read are the “real” writers, who oftentimes just mail it in.
On the flipside, there are those who will accuse Malignaggi of playing on both sides of the fence. While he vehemently disagrees with the scoring of his bout with Broner, many observers believe he was given a very dubious decision in his previous outing against Pablo Cesar Cano in October 2012 at the Barclays Center. Where Malignaggi has been justifiably outspoken about the injustices of this business in the past, here, he was the recipient of an unpopular verdict. And after being critical of the role and influence of Haymon, the “Magic Man” is now on the verge of joining his stable (more on that in Part II with Malignaggi).
Malignaggi now has a huge platform with his role on the Showtime broadcast team. How much of a responsibility does he have to be as outspoken as possible from here on out?
“I understand that dynamic to a point but here’s the thing: I fought a 12-year pro career. I took all my chances already. It’s not up to me to say everything. I’ve more than said things when I’m pissed off and aggravated but it’s not up to me to take all the chances. I’ve taken enough chances in my life by stepping into a ring, 37 professional fights and 49 amateur fights. I’ve taken way more chances than any of these guys have taken in their entire lifetime. So it’s up to everybody to step up and stop masquerading. I didn’t masquerade as a pro fighter. I actually went in there and did it. I took all my chances. Now I’m going to take more chances in the media?
“I know it’s up to me to take more chances as a media individual and speak up and things like that but it’s not up to me to take the most risks again. It’s actually up to these wannabes to actually take one risk, take their first risks. I’ve been taking risks my entire career. These people masquerading as writers have never taken a single risk in their entire writing careers.”
Here’s episode 460 of “The Next Round” with Gabe Montoya and Yours Truly:
And it’s now available on iTunes:
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