- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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NEW YORK -- When all the crazy and often vulgar trash talk was finally over, when there was no more discussion of the woman they both dated and argued over, and when it was just mano a mano inside the ring, Adrien Broner and Paulie Malignaggi put on a quality prizefight.
But in the end, it was Broner who backed up his ample talk, which continued after the fight.
Skipping over the junior welterweight division, lightweight titleholder Broner moved up to welterweight and won another world title, outboxing Malignaggi and landing far heavier blows -- after a bit of a slow start -- to take a surprising split decision before 11,461 on Saturday night at the Barclays Center in Malignaggi's hometown of Brooklyn.
Broner, at just 23, is now a three-time titleholder, having won belts at junior lightweight, lightweight and now welterweight in only a 19-month span. He became just the fourth fighter to win titles at 130, 135 and 147 pounds, joining his idol Floyd Mayweather Jr., Manny Pacquiao and Oscar De La Hoya.
Malignaggi, 32, was busy and on his game early, but Broner appeared to take over in the second half of the fight, despite the way the scorecards read: 117-111 and 115-113 for Broner and 115-113 for Malignaggi. ESPN.com also had it 117-111 for Broner, who taunted Malignaggi throughout the fight, saying to him, "You can't hit me."
When the fight was over, Broner and Malignaggi didn't embrace or have any interest in being pals.
Broner started off showing respect for Malignaggi in his postfight interview, saying, "He's a world-class fighter, and I respect him. To come to somebody's hometown and beat them on a split decision, that's saying something. This was a tremendous win for me. I mean, who's doing it like me? Nobody."
Then Broner (27-0, 22 KOs) left Malignaggi (32-5, 7 KOs) with a parting shot.
"I came into town, and I got his belt and his girl," Broner said.
Malignaggi made a big stink about the scores, claiming corruption, saying Broner's powerful adviser Al Haymon had judge Tom Schreck (117-111) "in his pocket" and threatening to quit boxing if he didn't get a rematch, which is very unlikely to happen.
"I thought I out-threw him and outworked him," Malignaggi said. "He was sharp in spots, but he wasn't busy. He didn't land. They looked pretty. When he did work, he was good, but I had the better pace. This is a close fight. I don't even mind having him close or me close. But it could have gone either way.
"In my hometown, as the defending champion, I felt like I should have got it. Tom Schreck is a New York judge and in Al Haymon's pocket. That's all there is to it."
Then Malignaggi ratcheted up his rhetoric:
"I thought it was an entertaining fight and the fans got their money's worth, but it's a lot of bulls---. There's politics, and you get bulls--- like this. It's part of the game, and somebody should do something about it. I don't have to fight again. I made good money in boxing and I work with you guys at Showtime [as an announcer]. I'm not saying it was fixed, but it's always the more connected fighter who gets the decision."
Keep in mind that Broner was the overwhelming winner among ringside media.
Golden Boy chief executive Richard Schaefer said Malignaggi was just upset and didn't mean what he said.
"Right after the fight, the crowd, the whole thing and the split decision -- when a fighter makes those statements, you have to take them with a grain of salt," said Schaefer, who promotes Broner and Malignaggi. "What I heard was frustration. Paulie did [fight] a good fight, but most of us did not think he would be able to hang with Adrien Broner as long as he did and as well as he did. There was a lot of frustration on Paulie's side. Out of frustration, you say those kind of things. I don't read anything into that.
"Paulie, he sure came to fight. He showed a lot of heart and pride. Even though he didn't get the win, he didn't lose anything here tonight. Those fans who saw Paulie will come back."
After a bit of a slow start, Broner, of Cincinnati, started to open up with his shots in the fifth round. He hurt Malignaggi with a pair of right hands and a left just as the round was ending.
Broner really began to work Malignaggi over in the sixth round. He was landing right hands and hurting Malignaggi to the body.
Bottom line: When Broner landed punches, they moved Malignaggi. When Malignaggi landed shots, Broner didn't budge -- although Malignaggi did last the distance against a fighter who has one of the highest knockout percentages among active titleholders.
According to CompuBox, Broner, who earned a career-high $1.5 million, landed 246 of 524 punches (47 percent), while Malignaggi, whose $1.125 million purse was also a career high, landed 214 of 843 (25 percent). Malignaggi was busy but largely ineffective, while Broner's blows were clean and doing more damage.
"Adrien fought one of the best boxers," Schaefer said. "If Paulie would have some power in his punches, it might have become a difficult fight for Adrien. But at the same time, Adrien was in control and he did what he had to do."
By the eighth round, Broner was in total control. Malignaggi, whose hometown crowd chanted, "Paulie! Paulie! Paulie!" during the fight, was still firing and moving well, but he simply couldn't hurt Broner, who seemed to rattle Malignaggi with everything he landed.
Broner closed the ninth round with a strong right hand that had Malignaggi making faces at him, a likely sign he had in fact been hurt by the shot.
"He hit all arms," Broner said. "He couldn't hit me. He went straight to survival mode. He kept running, and I cut him off.
"He fought exactly how I thought he would fight. I did this for my fans. He couldn't hit me. He was shadowboxing."
Schaefer said Broner's next opponent could be hard-punching slugger Marcos Maidana of Argentina, who stopped Josesito Lopez in a slugfest earlier this month.
"I would like to see him and Maidana. That would be a good one," Schaefer said. "But there are so many names and opponents and possibilities. We have so many names in the 147- and 140-pound weight classes."
Broner knows his future is bright and didn't seem too concerned about any future opponent, Mayweather (who sat ringside Saturday) or otherwise.
"I want the fans to pick my next opponent," he said. "The highest percentage [in a vote], I'll fight them. I will fight anybody they want."
5dDarren Rovell and Dan Rafael