The Malignaggi Legacy - Boxing
By Dimitrios Verteouris (March 18, 2008) Doghouse Boxing  
June 10, 2006 was to be a night where a young man who was brash with his words, flashy with his fists, and dazzling with his style would shock the boxing world with a win against the biggest and most feared puncher in his weight division. Paul Malignaggi was set to face Miguel Cotto for the WBO junior welterweight championship of the world.
In his early years as a professional, Paulie always said he would be a world champ. Some people looked and
laughed, and others thought this kid would be lucky if he even made it to a championship fight. Paulie had a stellar amateur career with a finishing record of 40 wins and 9 defeats. He won the NYC Golden Gloves two times, and was a 2001 National Champion at 141 pounds. Malignaggi would take his amateur experience and turn professional after those National Championships. Malignaggi then compiled a record of 21 straight professional wins. Somewhere dominating performances, some of them lackluster due to his hand injuries, and some were flat performances that caused people to say that they did not see championship material in the young Brooklynite.
All that changed in February of 2006 when Paulie stepped into the ring with ranked Contender Donald "Too Quick Too Slick" Camarena. This was supposed to be Paulie's biggest test in his young career. It ended up being one of his most dominating performances. Not only did it gain him more experience against the best caliber of fighter he had faced, but it also gave him a golden opportunity to prove his place in the division and boxing. The
stage was set for Malignaggi to face Junior Welterweight champion Miguel Cotto. The undefeated Puerto Rican fighter had a record of 25-0 with 22 of them being by devastating KO. Leading into the fight Malignaggi was slated as the heavy underdog, and someone who people thought wouldn't see past 4 rounds against the Champion Cotto.
Leading into the fight Malignaggi was promising victory in dominating fashion in the Mecca of boxing, Madison Square Garden. All of his dreams would come true once he won the fight. He trained hard for the fight and mentally focused himself for the challenge at hand. He knew people where against him and he used that as fuel to help him prepare for this battle. His speed was to be the deciding factor along with his ring generalship and one of the best jabs in the business. Miguel Cotto's power was to be the biggest factor in the bout. The fight was finally here and Paulie's chance was given to him as he walked his way into the ring that night.
He promised to excite the crowd and he succeeded in doing just that. They stayed in front of each other for 12 rounds and did what people love to see, fight it out until the end. After 12 rounds and a very good scrap, Malignaggi left the ring battered, bruised, bloody and worse then any one of those things, no longer an undefeated professional. He walked out the ring with no belt around his waist, not being the world champion he promised the world he would be. Paulie felt he had lost his only chance to prove himself in the sport. Though he felt he had lost everything in the ring that night, Paulie Malignaggi had gained something he never had in his 21 professional fights, respect.
In the days after the fight, the talk was about how Malignaggi fought courageously, not of how Miguel Cotto defended his title for the sixth time. In all of Malignaggi's wins he wasn't able to gain the one thing he gained in his only loss to Cotto: the respect he deserved. No one thought that Malignaggi would be the same after the fight with Cotto. And after an emergency surgery to repair a broken orbital bone, few months off and some time to heal, Paulie had risen from the shadows to show the world he wasn't going to go down that easily.
Exactly 8 months later Malignaggi would return to the ring against roughhouse lightweight contender Edner Cherry. Paulie showed us why he was able to keep up with Cotto in his last fight. Malignaggi took all 10 rounds on all cards and re-established himself as a contender with his dominating performance after his only loss. A loss as bad would result in fighter not being the same. After all, Paulie's face was broken few months earlier. Who else would’ve picked him to come back and be good anymore? Paulie took his status to the next level once he got another title shot almost exactly one year later...
On June 16, 2007 Paul Malignaggi shocked a lot of people with his 12 round domination of IBF champion Lovemore Ndou . He completed his dream of becoming a world champion, and in a great way. Paulie swept all cards and became the first challenger ever to score 12-0 decision against the defending champion. His marvelous performance put him in the elite class of the 140-pound division. This still wasn't enough for Paulie, besides becoming world champion and doing what he set out to do Paulie had something new in his mind, something that was much more meaningful to him then the world title. Only one word can describe what Malignaggi had in mind since June 10th 2006: revenge. Malignaggi went on to defend his world title on January 5th in hopes of getting him closer to his rematch. 

Paulie is now set to face Lovemore Ndou in a rematch on the undercard of Ricky Hatton-Juan Lazcano on May 24, 2008 in Manchester, England. Malignaggi now has a game plan for 2008 , hoping to defend against Ndou again and looking for a showdown with what he believes is his hot ticket and passport back to his Miguel Cotto fight: a match against Ricky Hatton. Paulie feels beating this man would mean a possible shot against Cotto. The pieces are there and Paulie now tries to put them together to pave his road for Miguel once again. So where does the Magic Man's legacy stand? Does he cement himself somewhere in boxing if he can succeed in his plan? What is the Malignaggi Legacy?

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