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Thursday, April 17, 2014
Malignaggi looking for a third title

By Dan Rafael
ESPN.com

Paulie Malignaggi has been there, done that -- and he wants to do it again. He wants to win a world title for the third time.

"It's a chance to capture my third world title, and I'm all about accolades," Malignaggi said about challenging welterweight titlist Shawn Porter on Saturday night at the DC Armory in Washington, D.C. "I'm all about trying to accomplish more in my life as best I can, be it in the ring or outside the ring.

"I respect Shawn. He's a good champion, he's a hungry champion, but I feel like I have the experience necessary to put this work into place and get this third world championship. It feels good to still be here. I'm 33 years old, still going strong. Shawn worked hard for his, but it's a world championship that I want and now I got the chance to do it."

Malignaggi has already won two world titles, claiming a junior welterweight belt in 2007 and making two successful defenses before being stopped by Ricky Hatton in the 10th round in 2008.

And then in 2012, Malignaggi defied the odds by going to Ukraine and stopping hometown titleholder Vyacheslav Senchenko in the ninth round to claim a welterweight title at a time when many had left Malignaggi's career for dead. He made one successful defense before losing the belt by split decision to Adrien Broner last June.

But after rebounding to outpoint fellow former two-division titleholder Zab Judah for a big win on Dec. 7, Malignaggi put himself in position for another title opportunity against Porter for his welterweight belt on Saturday night (Showtime, 9:30 ET, immediately following the debut of "All Access: Mayweather vs. Maidana," with preliminary bouts on Showtime Extreme beginning at 7 ET).

In the main event, Philadelphia's 49-year-old Bernard Hopkins (54-6-2, 32 KOs), the oldest titleholder in boxing history and still going strong, seeks to unify light heavyweight world titles against Las Vegas resident Beibut Shumenov (14-1, 9 KOs), 30, of Kazakhstan.

Middleweight titlist Peter Quillin (30-0, 22 KOs), 30, of New York, will make his third defense when he faces Lukas Konecny (50-4, 23 KOs), 35, of the Czech Republic, in the opener of the tripleheader.

On the night that Malignaggi defeated Judah in the battle of Brooklyn, N.Y., at Barclays Center, Porter pulled an upset by outpointing Devon Alexander to take his welterweight belt in a spirited performance on the undercard.

Shawn Porter and Devon Alexander
Shawn Porter, left, won the welterweight belt by outpointing Devon Alexander last December.

In fact, Porter took it to a lethargic Alexander from the opening bell and applied relentless pressure in the best performance of his career against the best opponent he had faced. It was as if he would not be denied against Alexander.

"That was my mentality and that is my mentality," Porter said. "I've been bred that way. I've been trained that way my whole life. I've always been taught to be hungry, be aggressive, and not to allow someone to get comfortable in the ring, and that's going to always be my mentality against whoever it is I'm going to be fighting.

"Same goes with Paulie. I know he's fast and he has good feet and he knows how to move around the ring, so my plan is to cut him off and be really aggressive and get to his body and make it uncomfortable for him for 12 rounds or less."

After Malignaggi and Porter, 26, shared the December card and both won, suddenly a showdown became a likely fight, especially because they are both part of adviser Al Haymon's stable, and Haymon, after years of being unwilling to match his fighters, now does it regularly.

For Malignaggi (33-5, 7 KOs), the fight is an opportunity to win the coveted third belt. For Porter (23-0-1, 14 KOs), of Akron, it's the chance to build on the eye-opening success he had against Alexander, add another well-known name to his résumé and move toward bigger business.

Before Porter beat Alexander, however, the fight was not one that Malignaggi thought he would ever have.

"I think before he beat Devon I looked at him as a solid fighter, but it never really crossed my mind that I might fight him," said Malignaggi, who usually works as Showtime's ringside analyst, but because he will be in the ring, middleweight contender Daniel Jacobs will fill in for him. "I had seen [Porter] and his father [Ken] training in Wild Card Gym at times. We've always been friendly, we've always been cool. I never really looked at Shawn as somebody I would fight, but once he got the title he kind of stepped up into another dimension.

"People view you differently when you're a world champion. So, obviously, once Shawn grabbed that title, it put things into a different perspective as far as, OK, maybe this is somebody I may wind up in the ring against, because he's got a world title in my weight class. And then so be it, and it happened. I wasn't sure it would happen right off the bat, but certainly once he beat Devon, Shawn put himself in another level."

While Malignaggi never imagined that he would be facing Porter, the same can't be said for the new titleholder. He thought that if he lifted the title from Alexander and Malignaggi defeated Judah, they would probably fight.

Paulie Malignaggi punches Zab Judah
Paulie Malignaggi dominated Zab Judah last year to earn a shot at a third world title.

"I thought that it would be somewhat of that kind of situation where the winners would fight each other," Porter said. "I didn't know if it would come so soon or when it would come, but I did kind of have a mindset of fighting the winner of Zab Judah and Paulie Malignaggi. So, again, we've been training for a long time, and when the call came that it was going to be Paulie, it was not a surprise to me or my camp."

Porter said he believes that Alexander is a similar fighter to Malignaggi, although Alexander is a southpaw and Malignaggi is right-handed. But they are both quick, experienced, sound defensively and not big hitters.

"A pretty good blueprint for going against someone like Paulie," Porter said. "And then you take into account everything I've done up until this point. Sparring with Manny Pacquiao [as a regular in past camps], I mean there's no better blueprint than that. The guy's got the quickest hands and feet in the business. So I have all the experience in what it takes to beat Paulie, and it's just matter of getting in there and doing it.

"I'm up against a crafty veteran, someone who's got the hands, feet, and likes to hustle his hands, and he's in shape. So I'm prepared to come in there, man, and be in just as great a shape as he's in and be just as smart as he is, and be aggressive and do what I have to do to hold onto my title."

Malignaggi downplayed Porter's experience in camp with Pacquiao, whom he ripped verbally, out of the blue.

"Once you become world champion I think you set yourself apart from the rest of the class, and Shawn did that by winning the world championship," Malignaggi said. "All that other bulls--- about sparring with Manny Pacquiao and all that, I don't rate Manny Pacquiao as a very good fighter. I don't rate him as a very intelligent fighter, actually. So all that other bulls--- about the sparring and all that stuff, it really, for me, goes in one ear and out the other. But what Shawn did to Devon was very impressive, and certainly it put him in a different light in a lot of different ways, in a more positive way."

But not such a good light that Malignaggi thinks Porter will be able to keep him from claiming that third title.

"I will become a three-time world champion," Malignaggi said. "Porter is a good fighter and I'm sure he'll be a champion again in the future, but he doesn't have the tools or experience to beat me."