Paulie Malignaggi Interview: "To make this title defense in Brooklyn, it makes it a bit more special"
By Anson Wainwright (Oct 19, 2012) Doghouse Boxing
When Paul Malignaggi was unable to
procure a TV date to fight Vyacheslav Senchenko in America, he was forced to
take his bag of tricks on the road to Senchenko’s backyard of Ukraine. It was
widely thought he’d have a hard time ripping the WBA welterweight strap from
Senchenko as the away fighter, especially with a kayo ratio of less than 20%. However,
on this particular night as the “Magic Man” says, he painted his own
masterpiece, cutting up and stopping Senchenko, much to everyone’s surprise, in
nine rounds. The 31-year-old’s next act will be headlining the opening event at
the much-hyped Barclays Center in the more safe confines of his hometown,
Brooklyn, New York, when he meets pressure fighter Pablo Cesar Cano this
Saturday. Though he’s not looking past Cano by any means, Ricky Hatton’s return
to boxing has clearly whetted Malignaggi’s appetite to right the previous wrong (as he sees
it) in a possible rematch. Malignaggi currently holds the WBA 147-pound title,
making him a two-division world champion, having held the IBF laurels from
mid-2007 (which earned him the “Comeback of the Year” award from The Ring magazine) until September 2008. He is
also currently ranked number four at welterweight by the prestigious publication.
Anson Wainwright -You return
to action on the 20th October when you meet Pablo Cesar Cano
in what will be your first defense of your WBA welterweight title. What does
this mean to you?
Paulie Malignaggi - It's
unbelievable to be able to fight at home but the goal obviously is to win
impressively and that'll always be the goal no matter where I’m fighting.
It makes it a little more exciting to know I’m fighting in Brooklyn and to make
this title defense in Brooklyn, it makes it a bit more special.
AW - It’ll be the first time in nearly two-and-a-half
years since you have fought in New York. What are your thoughts on that and headlining
the card in the inaugural boxing event at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn?
PM - Oh it makes it more exciting; it
adds a new wrinkle to the title defense. Like I said, you want to win and
look impressive but the fact it is in Brooklyn, I have extra
motivation because I have more friends and family who will be there,
more support there. So it makes it more exciting. When I'm walking to the
ring and when I'm being announced as champion of the world in front of my crowd
and to perform in front of them makes it a bit special. The goal is
obviously to remain focused and put on the best performance possible.
AW - You beat previously unbeaten
Vyacheslav Senchenko in his homeland of Ukraine in what was a stunning upset to
many. Can you tell us how the fight came about and
your thought process through it all?
PM – Yeah, I mean ultimately, I didn't
want to go to the Ukraine. It's just no U.S. networks were giving me a date to
fight on to bring the fight to the U.S., so with no money from TV in
the U.S., there was no way to be able to stage the fight here in the U.S.
It was a bit frustrating because knowing you have so much left in the
tank, knowing you have so much more to give - especially knowing I
was better than Senchenko and yet not being able to get the
opportunity in a situation where you would probably be treated
fairly In the U.S. I would have to go over there to fight him where I knew I
wouldn't be treated fairly; that made it frustrating because I knew there was
so much more to give and if I went to Ukraine and got robbed, I was going to
come home to deaf ears. Nobody was going to care ‘cause nobody cared before I
went there; you know? So it was frustrating and I didn't want to do it at first.
There was no other doors open; there was no other way. There was nothing going
on ‘cause U.S. networks wouldn't put me on anyway. So in the end, I
thought I have nothing to lose. If I get robbed, I get robbed but I will go out
on my terms. I will put on my masterpiece when I go to Ukraine. If they rob me,
they rob me but at least the world will be able to see that I went out on my terms
and show the fighter I am.
When the fight started, I just told
myself, “Don't look for the stoppage because you may end up fighting the wrong
fight. Fight your fight and show people who you are a fighter.” So I told
myself that we just approach every round, round by round, dominate and destroy
every round, dominate and destroy every round and it lead to the stoppage late
in the fight.
AW - You mention about not
wanting to go to the Ukraine. As the away fighter, did you encounter any
problems or were you treated well?
PM – Overall, I wasn't treated badly but
luckily I also went over there with a good team. Robert Diaz from Golden Boy
Promotions came with us; Golden Boy is a very strong promoter and they have a
lot of experience. My guys made sure that I was always taken care of but there
was little things like when It came to choosing the gloves, they gave us some
trouble and in the locker room when we were wrapping our hands_ they came in to
check us and then left the room - I remember telling my trainer,
“Don't keep wrapping; stop the wrap right here because what he's going to do is
come into the room and tell us we didn't see the rest of you wrapping so we
want you to rewrap.” So when the guy came in the locker room and he left, I
made my trainer stop the hand wrap right there until he came back because
I knew what he was doing. I know the mind games in boxing. The guy was going to
come back five minutes later, find my hands wrapped and say, “I didn't see
you finish; I want you to do it again.” I was ready for the mind
games they were going to play. I was so focused; in the end, it wasn't
going to matter. In the end, the goal was to dominate and destroy Senchenko and
that’s what I did.
AW - Can you tell us about basing yourself
in Los Angeles for training?
PM - Los Angeles is easier to focus
for me. I don't know as many people; the weather’s excellent. There's a lot
of good fighters; it's a hotbed for boxing, um…a lot of great sparring. My team
is tremendous; Shawn Augustus is my strength trainer. Eric Brown is my
boxing coach. Golden Boy Promotions is based out here; almost my entire team is
based out there. Only my manager, Anthony Catanzaro, is based in New York. Other
than that, my entire team is Los Angeles-based so it's much easier to do work
here; as well as the weather and the level of competition in the gym, I
get prepared to the max every time.
AW - That win proved there is still life in
your career yet; however, you turn 32 next month. If all goes well against Cano,
what would you like do next?
PM - The goal is to get the biggest
fights possible and with Ricky Hatton coming back and mentioning my name, I
would gladly oblige if he looks good against Senchenko November 24th.
I think Ricky Hatton is sadly mistaken; I don't think he understands he didn't
fight the Paulie Malignaggi everyone else fought. Anyone that fought Paulie
Malignaggi in 2008 caught a big break ‘cause I wasn't the same fighter in 2008
I was the rest of my career. There was a very big technical discrepancy
with me and Buddy McGirt (Malignaggi’s former trainer), very, very big - I
mean, indescribably big - and I think the results show whether it was
before 2008 or after, I'm completely different than I was in 2008. So Hatton
didn't only catch me in 2008; he caught me at the end of it which was at the
lowest point of the low. If Ricky Hatton thinks he fought Paulie
Malignaggi anywhere near the one the rest of boxing world fought, he's sadly
mistaken and I will gladly give him that reality check if he gets by Senchenko.
AW - You just
touched on Ricky Hatton; you'll have a vested interest in is the Hatton-Senchenko
fight on 24 November. What are your thoughts on that fight?
PM - I think Ricky is very tough to beat
in the U.K., not because he necessarily fights better but because the
atmosphere to fight him there can mentally wear down a fighter if he is not
sure of himself. Senchenko, technically, for me, is a better fighter than
Hatton. I just question the psychology of the situation for a fighter who has
never had to fight in a harsh environment his whole career. To me, that will
be the difference. Hatton is in his element in the noisy MEN arena; it will be
tough for Senchenko to deal with it because he has never fought under that kind
of mental duress. Senchenko is not bad; Hatton should win but he is
mistaken if he chose him thinking the same Paulie Malignaggi he beat in 2008 is
the same guy that just beat Senchenko, therefore he should handle him easily. I
hope he didn't choose Senchenko as an opponent with that frame of mind because
it would be a mistake.
AW - The welterweight division is thriving
with many top names including the likes of Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather,
Tim Bradley, etc. What are your thoughts being involved in a division like
PM - Of course it's exciting to be in a
weight class with so much talent. The competition is very big so it allows you
to make a lot of money while also testing yourself against the best fighters in
the world. That’s always exciting because as a competitor, you want to test
yourself against the best you know. The welterweight division presents a lot of
the best fighters in boxing today. It means a lot to have a world title in the
welterweight division right now and as long as I maintain that, I have opportunities
to fight some of the best fighters of this generation.
AW - You are of Italian decent but born and
raised in New York. Could you tell us about your early days growing up and the
path you took into boxing?
PM - I was born in Brooklyn, New
York but my family moved back to Italy when I was an infant. We lived in Italy
until I was six years old; when we came back, my parents were divorced. As I
grew up, there was some problems at home; I was in a broken family. My mother
remarried and I didn't get along with her husband too much. Things went
from bad to worse; I was getting into some trouble. It ended up boxing kind of
gave me a path to keep in a positive direction. Once I stepped inside the
boxing gym at 16 years old, I found something I liked and wanted to do. I
committed to [something] for the first time in my life. In essence, it
allowed me to not only make something of myself but also not make mistakes
outside the gym.
AW - You’re known as one of boxing’s
characters but could you tell us a little about yourself as a person and what
you like to do away from boxing?
PM - As a matter of fact, soccer -
or football, as the rest of the world calls it - is my favorite
sport. Boxing is not my favorite sport; football is my favorite sport. I
love football. My father played pro football in the third division in
Italy when I was a child. I remember him playing because my parents divorced;
my mother blamed a lot of it on football. She never let me or my brother
play growing up. My favorite sport though I never got to play it as a kid
because my mother banned us from playing it so it’s kind of ironic I ended
up being a boxer instead. Football is definitely my favorite sport; I
love watching Serie A (the Italian League). AC Milan is my team; I cheer
all the Serie A teams when it comes to the Champions League or Euro League. I
root for Italy, the Italian national team; my whole family does. We
were excited to watch the Euro Cup; Italy made a run to the finals before
succumbing to Spain. Football's really exciting; I think as an Italian person,
you know, you get into football. I also enjoy the Premiership (the English
League); Mario Balotelli (an Italian Striker) is one of my favorite
players for Manchester City. I like watching him play as well. It’s a situation
where football is my favorite sport but also as a person, as far as the razzmatazz
and the excitement, growing up, I loved Arturo Gatti as a fighter, who was kind
of “anti-Malignaggi.” He was more all business in the ring; he gave it all in
the ring and wasn’t very flashy but he was Italian-Canadian. He was an Italian
immigrant like myself, so me and my family rooted for him growing up. But I was
always attracted to the allure of flashy fighters like Hector Camacho Snr., like
Prince Naseem Hamed, like watching even [Muhammad] Ali, Sugar Ray
Leonard videos. I was always attracted to the allure of these very flashy kind
of fighters, their style, their personality and the way they dressed. It allows
you to kind of express yourself when you’re in the ring in a high temp kind of
way, this magnified way because, personally, I’m not that way most of the time.
I’m more low-key; people that know me know I’m much more low-key. But when the
lights are on, I’m like the Incredible Hulk; it’s almost a Jekyll and Hyde
thing with me. I’m able to show of this magnetized personality that I normally
keep to myself.
AW - Throughout your
career you've fought many top fighters, who was the quickest?
PM - The quickest hands is
definitely Amir Khan.
AW - Who was the
PM - Miguel Cotto without a doubt.
AW - Who was the hardest
PM - Miguel Cotto.
AW - What about the best
PM - Miguel Cotto.
AW - In closing, do you have a message for
PM - I love the support and it's always
very much appreciated. As a fighter and athletes, we work very hard. We
know we can't make everyone happy all the time but the support system, it
always means a lot, no matter what. With the support from the fans, it
gives you that much more incentive to put on a show as best you can. To all
those fans, I try hard for them. Obviously the paycheck comes to me
but the entertainment value is what the fans pay for. I try to give them
entertainment value as much as I can when I fight.
Follow our news wire on twitter and stay up to date on all the Doghouse Boxing's news wire
Visit the IMPROVED Doghouse Boxing Forums (Login with your Facebook or Twitter account - Now Mobile, Ipad, Blackberry, Android & YouTube Friendly) DogPound
NEW: Follow Doghouse Boxing on FaceBook! For more Boxing News 24/7 and so much more... visit our homepage now!