Malignaggi gets retribution!
By Vikram Birring, Doghouse Boxing (Dec 15, 2009)  
Towards the end of the first round, Paulie “Magic Man” Malignaggi waved his arm and saluted the Chicago fans as they chanted his name: ‘Paulie, Paulie, Paulie.’ This was a lot different than August 22, when he walked into enemy territory, experiencing hostility with every second that went by.

After the fight, Malignaggi expressed outrage at the decision, giving Max Kellerman a profanity laced post-fight interview as he explained his disgust with the boxing business. It was a major risk, something that could
have had him blackballed from the sport.

But something unexpected happened, Ross Greenburg, head honcho of HBO Boxing, agreed with Malignaggi’s sentiment; and so did boxing fans. Thus, less than three months later, a rematch was arranged in a neutral location (Chicago), with a twenty by twenty foot ring that favored Malignaggi’s movement-based style, and neutral officials. All of Malignaggi’s wishes had come true.

But then comes the story of the actual fight. Malignaggi showed excellent footwork as he moved around the ring behind a stinging jab. Sometimes he followed it up with a right cross and body shots. He looked the best he has in thirty months, when he dominated Lovemore N’dou for a junior welterweight title.

In the sixth round, Malignaggi performed a true feat of magic: he hurt his opponent. A right cross wobbled Diaz momentarily. He seemingly shocked himself as instead of following up, he stood in front of Diaz with his hands down and taunted him until the end of the round.

After winning six of the first seven rounds, Diaz came on strong and began to turn the fight in his favor. What he realized was that he had to eat three or four Malignaggi punches to get inside, where he could do damage with left hooks to the body and head and right crosses to the head.

In the ninth, whatever hopes Diaz had were shattered, as referee Geno Rodriguez called a knockdown that never happened against him. Diaz’s glove came close to touching the canvas, but didn’t. However, there is no instant replay in boxing, and what was a winning round turned in to a 10-8 round against him.

The last three minutes were vintage Juan Diaz: he pounded away at Malignaggi’s body with relentless pressure. But it was too little, too late. His activity level was surprisingly low this match, and the judges’ scorecards displayed that, as all three judges scored the bout 116-111.

What happens now is a mystery. Malignaggi expressed interest in a bout with Ricky Hatton or Juan Manuel Marquez, but they are planning to fight each other in 2010. Other options are high risk, low reward: Devon Alexander, Timothy Bradley, Marcos Maidana. The best option may be a third bout with Diaz.

As for Diaz, he remarked after the bout that he just could not let his hands go.

This begs the need to ask a greater question.

Diaz is only twenty-six years of age, but has been boxing for eighteen years. He has admission into law school, and does not need to take any more unnecessary punches to the head. He has made millions in his career and had eight defenses of his lightweight championship, quite a legacy for a fat kid who just wanted to lose weight at the boxing gym. Perhaps it is time to call it a day, or maybe he just had an off night. One hopes Malignaggi will grant him a rematch just as he did for the Magic Man.

Undercard notes:

On June 27, 2009, Victor Ortiz had committed the ultimate sin in boxing: he quit.

This is an unforgivable act in the eyes of boxing fans. Boxers are the toughest of men, fearless ‘warriors.’ To walk away in a boxing bout is unheard of, the thought should not even cross one’s mind.

But Ortiz did just that, as he told the referee he was done after taking a brutal beating at the hands of heavy-handed Marcos “El Chino” Maidana of Argentina.

After the bout, he wondered out loud if he should be taking any more punches to the head, a startling statement for a man who’s nickname is “Vicious.”

But America is the land of second chances, and with the powerful backing of Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions, he got his against returning Antonio “Tono” Diaz, an aging boxer who wanted one more chance at the spotlight.

Unlike in his previous bouts, on this evening Ortiz was highly cautious. He pawed with his jab, and occasionally threw a straight left, one strong enough to put Diaz on the canvas in the third round. But he didn’t go for the kill as he had in the past. Recalling the first round against Maidana, he followed up a knockdown only to be drilled himself and ended up looking at the lights.

Eventually a cut on Diaz’s face was deemed too much and the fight was stopped after the sixth round. It was a good victory for Ortiz, but he is more a careful counter puncher now than ‘Vicious.’

Questions or comments,
e-mail
Vikram at: vikram.birring@gmail.com



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