Malignaggi sets next fight in Ukraine

February, 15, 2012
2/15/12
12:14
PM ET
In the last few months, Paulie Malignaggi has gone above and beyond his expected duties and put on a promoter's hat. He's tried to lure Marcos Maidana, Erik Morales and last week Robert Guerrero into a battle. He struck out, though not for lack of ingenuity or pluck. Guerrero has been calling out Floyd Mayweather and others for a couple of months and when someone stepped up to his challenge, he disappeared.

Malignaggi, age 31, knows his time as an active fighter is shrinking, so he basically conceded to the writing on the wall and will take a fight with the WBA welterweight champion, Ukrainian Viacheslav Senchenko. Paulie (30-4 with 6 KOs) told ESPN New York that contract particulars are close to being finalized between Team Senchenko and Paulie's promoter, Golden Boy.

The bout pitting the ex-junior welter from Bensonhurst and the relative unknown and untested Senchenko (age 34; 32-0 with 21 KOs) would likely unfold April 29 in Donetsk, Ukraine. "It feels good to be fighting for a title again," Paulie said. "I will make the most of the opportunity and I look forward to winning the title and bringing it home to defend in Brooklyn's Barclays Center in the fall."

Malignaggi knows the judges could be wearing pro-Senchenko glasses on fight night but said he is optimistic he can win a decision. "I will try to focus on things I can control rather than things I cannot," he said.

Senchenko has been working with Freddie Roach lately but Malignaggi sees him as "still basic nonetheless" though "distinctly sharper" since he hooked up with Freddie. Malignaggi is based in L.A. now and works out at Roach's Hollywood gym with trainer Eric Brown. The boxer said it would be a sweet win to get the title and hold it aloft in Brooklyn. "I used to get asked, 'Yo Paulie when's your next fight?" Now it's, 'Yo Paulie, you still fighting?' So imagine how good it would feel if I could come home with a world championship and defend it in Brooklyn?"

Michael Woods, a member of the board of the Boxing Writers Association of America, has been covering boxing since 1991. He writes about boxing for ESPN The Magazine and is the news editor for TheSweetScience.com.

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