Friday, June 21, 2013
Done talking, now Malignaggi and Broner must fight
NEW YORK -- Paulie Malignaggi is as good with his mouth as he is with his fists, so proficient when talking about the sweet science that Showtime uses him as a commentator when he is not in the ring.
Adrien Broner isn't a bad talker himself, though much of what he says couldn't even be repeated on late night cable. It's his punching that speaks louder, and he has developed a reputation as a knockout artist while winning titles at junior lightweight and lightweight and beating everyone put in front of him.
The two meet Saturday night when Broner moves up two weight classes to challenge Malignaggi in his hometown for his 147-pound title in an intriguing fight that headlines another card at the Barclays Center, fast becoming a place for boxing.
"You always strive to get to fights like this," Malignaggi said. "That's what we live for as fighters. You dream of that moment so it's a motivating factor to be a part of something like this."
If that wasn't enough motivation, Malignaggi can get more from the prefight buildup, where he and Broner talked a lot of trash and Broner went so far as to call Malignaggi's ex-girlfriend at one appearance and claim her as his "sweetheart."
"It's gotten a little bit crazy, we'll admit that," Malignaggi said. "I can only apologize for my end but at the end of the day, this is how the creation of Adrien Broner happened. They put everything that's wrong with boxing in one room, did everything that's wrong with boxing in that room, and gave birth to Adrien Broner."
Both fighters have a lot riding on the bout. Through most of his 12-year career, Malignaggi has been viewed mostly as a talented boxer who doesn't have enough power for big fights. He wants a victory that will define him before he hangs up the gloves and moves into broadcasting on a more full-time basis.
Broner, on the other hand, is a brash knockout artist who sees himself as the next Floyd Mayweather Jr. -- only better.
"I mean in boxing if it isn't Adrien Broner or Floyd Mayweather then I don't really see anybody," Broner said. "He (Malignaggi) wouldn't be a world champion if he wasn't somebody, but at the end of the day he's fighting Adrien Broner and I will be the ruler of boxing in about a year or two."
Malignaggi appeared on the downside of his career after losses to the likes of Ricky Hatton and Amir Khan, but revived it when he traveled to Ukraine last April and upset hometown fighter Vyacheslav Senchenko, who was previously unbeaten, with a ninth round stoppage to win a piece of the welterweight title.
He defended it with a split decision over Pablo Cesar Cano in October at Barclays, a fight in which he was down in the 11th round. Now he faces the big punching Broner, who has stopped 22 opponents in winning all 26 of his fights.
"He's a little guy and he's going to see how overrated his power is," Malignaggi said. "I think they were better off letting him fight a lightweight or someone below that. He's fighting this bigger guy all in one jump so I don't think that was the most intelligent move on his team's part."
Broner, who retained his lightweight title in February by stopping Gavin Rees in the fifth round, is an all-out offensive fighter who not only punches hard but throws lots of blows. The Cincinnati boxer is being groomed as both a possible future opponent for Mayweather or his successor, though some have questioned the quality of his opposition and how he can handle fighters he can't easily overwhelm.
"I'll be a three-time world champion on Saturday at the age of 23," Broner said. "With that being said, let Paulie talk. At the end of the day I'm knocking him out."
In another fight, Seth Mitchell tries to avenge his upset loss to Johnathon Banks when the two meet in a 12-round rematch of their heavyweight fight last November.
Mitchell, a former Michigan State linebacker, was undefeated and trying to move up in the heavyweight ranks when he was knocked down three times in the second round by Banks, who was fighting shortly after his mentor, Emanuel Steward, died.
The two were to meet in the rematch in February, but Banks broke his right thumb in training.
"This sport is very unforgiving and I understand that," Mitchell said. "The first fight was a tough loss for me and it took me a little while to get over it, but I truly believe everything happens for a reason. We went back to the drawing board, we did a couple of things, and I'm very excited about this rematch."