We'd heard word, on that voluminous fightworld grapevine, that Oscar De La Hoya wanted to headline at the being-built Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Oct. 20, the debut for the sweet science at the arena which will be home to the basketball Nets. That plan, if ever near fruition, has been scuttled. It looks instead like returning conqueror Paul Malignaggi, who grabbed the WBA welterweight title from Vyacheslav Senchenko on Sunday, via TKO, will instead soak up the spotlight, against foe TBD, at Barclay's boxing unveiling.
"That's the plan," the Twitter Hitter told me on Wednesday morning, on the phone. "We've been told that. It would be sweet."
The 31-year old is on a high, soaking up the sweet certainty of being a two-time champion, in two weight divisions, after many pundits had left him and his brittle hands in the gutter following a 2010 loss to Amir Khan. He isn't letting whispers I'm hearing drift over from the Ukraine, that Team Senchenko might be peddling some sour grapes, searching for reasons why their guy got schooled by Malignaggi, bum him out.
Paulie told me that all in all, he was treated well on Senchenko's home turf. The promoter didn't put a crew of hard-partying Senchenko fans into the hotel room next to the boxers', and #TK made friends with the bodyguards who trailed him for the week. He was taken aback, he said, when the guy who ran the gym he used on fight week showed up in his dressing room to watch him get his hands wrapped. "He was spying on our workouts!" he said with a chuckle. "That made it all the more sweet."
Malignaggi said he knew pretty much right away that Senchenko was no Khan. "In the first round, I saw he was kind of slow. I had some time on my hands and read the Internet before, the Internet geniuses, heard that he had a better jab than me, had faster hands, and I started to believe some of that BS. I was expecting a good jab, and he was slow as balls. I thought, Wow, this could be a cakewalk. But I didn't want to get overconfident. I thought maybe he was starting slow. But after a few rounds, I knew I had the fight."
Check back for more from Paulie, including what he thought about the stoppage (Was it too quick?); who deserves credit for scouting Senchenko; why he went for the stoppage; and who he might face for his Barclays Golden Boy Promotions bow in October (Khan or Cotto rematch? Zab Judah?)