By Les Dowgier
In yet another successful event at the newly opened Barclay’s Center, on a warm summer night in Brooklyn, Paulie “The Magic Man” Malignaggi, 32-5 (7 KOs) defended his 147 lb. WBA title in front of his home crowd against the ostentatious, flashy and out right cocky Adrian “The Problem” Broner, 27-0 (22 KOs). However, the champion, fighting in front of his home crowd was an amazing 11-1 underdog!
After all the talk (which continued during and after the fight), the very contentious press tour, the promises of knockouts, the overly dramatized ring walks, these two men would finally square off. And what was the result? A typical Malignaggi fight with, what has unfortunately become, a typical Malignaggi result.
From the opening bell Paulie made it clear what his strategy was going to be; constant movement, not letting Broner set his feet, and simply outworking the challenger with a tremendous output of punches. This is a strategy that Paulie, who is notorious for his oft-broken hands and light punching power, has used his entire career. Though not the most dominating of styles, it has earned him many titles and a gaudy record.
As Paulie employed his typical strategy, Broner appeared to be holding back and waiting. Round after round passed with Paulie outworking Broner, who would land a few harder and cleaner shots and continue to sit back.
As the fight progressed, this pattern continued. As Paulie began to fatigue, especially, in the middle rounds, Broner began landing a bit more often, but the general pattern did not change; it appeared that Broner kept waiting…for something. Some commentators believed that Broner was just biding his time, waiting to knockout the outgunned Magic Man, which he could do, “at any time.” I’m not sure whether that mentality was simply based on a lack of respect for Paulie, a proven warrior who has never truly been knocked out, or a gross overestimation of Broner, who is a very talented and exiting fighter but still has a lot to prove, especially at this new weight. Regardless of what spawned this type of thinking, nothing came of it in the end as the fight went the distance with Paulie outworking Broner until the final bell.
When the decision was announced we had a new WBA welterweight champion and a bit of controversy. The final scores were 115-113, 113-115, 117-111 which led to the following post-fight reaction from Malignaggi, “I’m not saying it’s fixed, but it’s clear that the more connected fighter always gets the decision. It always happens.”
Though Paulie’s words ring very true in the ears of all boxing aficionados and Malignaggi, as a tactical fighter whose fights are almost guaranteed to go to the scorecards, has seen his share of bad decisions, was this one of them? I had Paulie winning the fight, however, though the last score appears too lopsided in my eyes (though ESPN’s Dan Rafael had a similar score), it was overall a close fight and one not too easy score.
So what did we learn from this fight?
First, despite showing time and time again that he is a skilled, dedicated boxer, and a real student of the sweet science, Malignaggi still doesn’t get the respect he, in the opinion of this writer, so justly deserves. Perhaps it’s his over the top persona and haircuts in the ring? Either way, Paulie showed yet again that he still belongs on the bigger (if not the biggest) stages in the sport.
Second, Adrian Broner is a very skilled fighter who looked rather underwhelming in his welterweight debut. Does this mean he can’t crack with the best of the division? Too early to tell. After all, he is only 23 and is already a belt holder in 3 division (a gaudy accomplishment for any fighter). His future certainly looks very bright indeed.
And finally, on a somewhat unfortunate note, the young Broner, who is a self-admitted admirer of “Money” Mayweather, took the trash talking aspect of the sport to a new classless low as the pre-fight build up included talk of stealing girlfriends and almost led to a fight at one of the press conferences. Also, unlike Mayweather, who is the one of the biggest trash talkers in the game prior to the fight but a true gentleman once the fight is over, Broner continued to show his lack of class in the post-fight interview, while Paulie, who threw his fair share of barbs, wanted to bury the hatchet. Let’s hope this trend doesn’t continue.