Paulie Malignaggi got the new year off to start much the same way he finished 2011: he said what was on his mind, and pulled no punches. In that way, he is the consummate New Yorker.
NYFightBlog asked the mouthy one to weigh in on Andre Ward, the 168 pound ace who will likely win the Boxing Writers Association of America Fighter of the Year award. Malignaggi told us that Ward would likely be a beloved figure in another nation, but his humble manner and subtle skill set don't do him any favors in the US.
"Ward is a role model, a family man, he doesn't curse, goes to church," said the 31 year-old hitter who is hoping to lure the Ukrainian WBA welterweight champ Viacheslav Senchenko to the States for a tangle. "If your daughter brought him home you'd be happy. He's a good enough person as far as being role model-type to do commercials, do endorsements, be an example for kids. Not a lot of athletes are an example for kids, he really can be an example for kids. He's the kind of guy most guys can respect and want to be like but most guys can't pull it off. But nobody appreciates you.. if he was in any other country he'd be a superstar. Any other country."
Malignaggi,the ex junior welter champ, doesn't think a lack of high-grade pop--Ward has 13 KOs in 25 outings--drags on Ward's popularity. He said fighters come from overseas, guys like Ricky Hatton, who aren't bombers, and our fans take to them whole-heartedly.
"It's a culture thing," Malignaggi said. "Americans have no personality, I hate to say it. They don't have their own identity. They'd rather support the foreign guy, the guy who came from another country with the same attributes, maybe not even as good attributes."
Malignaggi expressed wonder that an American judge, John Stewart, only narrowly scored the Dec. 17 Ward-Carl Froch bout in Atlantic City for Ward, 115-113. Ward won just about every round, in the eyes of most observers, but he didn't get any home-cookin' love from the Yank.
"We're the only country in the world a foreign fighter can come here and rob the home country guy," Malignaggi said.
Check back and hear Paulie pull no punches on the subject of Manny Pacquiao...