The verbal sparring between
WBA welterweight titlist Paulie Malignaggi and Adrien Broner, who face each
other this Saturday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, has seemingly
been never-ending and actually began before their names were on the dotted line.
From their Twitter timelines, press gatherings and a recent teleconference, the
trash talk and the insults have flown.
Yeah, the gloves were off
from the very beginning.
But even the talkative
Malignaggi has grown a bit tired of the talk.
“Yeah,” he admitted to
Maxboxing late last week, “it pretty much [got tiring] at that point. I think you
get so sick of the talking. It's like you talk and talk and talk. You work up
this emotion for a battle you can't fight. So it's to the point where it's been
worked up enough. It's time to fight.”
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
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
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
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...
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