When it was announced by Golden Boy that they had signed former light welterweight champion Paulie Malignaggi, the reaction from many fans was one of confusion. Having been beaten badly by just about every top fighter he has faced, including most recently Amir Khan, it looked as if ‘the Magic Man’s’ best days were behind him.
During his most recent outing against Khan, Malignaggi’s usually excellent movement seemed to be an issue and he struggled to get out of the way of Khan’s jab all night long. After the fight he promptly mentioned that he was having trouble making the light welterweight limit, and that he would be moving up to welterweight for his next fight.
If Paulie’s lack of movement against Khan can be put down to a hard weight cut or just the fact that he was in with a faster opponent who was a bad match up for him, then he could find some success at welterweight. The division has thinned out over the last few years, and with Pacquiao also moving up for the time being, there could well be opportunities for a recognizable name like Malignaggi.
Conversely though, he will be in against bigger punchers as well as naturally bigger fighters more easily able to walk through his notoriously light punches, and there is now an established blueprint to beating him. So if his legs really have gone as he himself postulated after the Khan fight, then he is only going to take yet more punishment as soon as he gets in against someone who can punch.
After signing with Golden Boy last week, Malignaggi was also quick to criticize former promoter Lou DiBella, who when talking to ESPN’s Dan Rafael he claimed had leeched off of him and had never promoted him correctly.
Really though, despite whatever new deal Golden Boy might have given him, Malignaggi has always been a talented but ultimately flawed fighter. And a flawed fighter given numerous chances to break into the the upper echelon of the division without much success.
He was beaten viciously by Amir Khan, Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto, and admittedly was robbed against Juan Diaz. None of which can really be blamed solely on DiBella.
Also Malignaggi’s own trash talking persona made him a lot more popular than his in ring performances have would have, so claiming not to have been promoted properly seems a bit of a stretch as well.
All of which means that it will be interesting to see what Golden Boy actually have planned for him as far as opponents go.
EBU Welterweight champion Matthew Hatton is one name that has been mentioned several times by Malignaggi, and at one time he was also thinking about relocating to Italy for his next few fights.
It could also be the case that Golden Boy intend to use Malignaggi as a gatekeeper of sorts to test up and coming prospects before moving them on to world title level, so there are a number of possibilities out there.
Other than matching him with Golden Boy prospects who would largely be favorites to beat him though, the upside for the Oscar De La Hoya owned outfit in signing Malignaggi isn’t that clear.
After the press conference announcing the signing, Oscar and Richard Schaefer both mentioned strengthening their company’s position in and around New York, and in Malignaggi they do have a visible mouthpiece for any shows they put on there.
The real deciding factor in where Malignaggi goes though will probably be how he looks at a higher weight where his lack of punching power might begin to cost him more quickly, and whether his movement has returned after an easier weight cut.
Dave Jones, Pittsburgh: “Paulie is going to get fed to Alvarez and then he should retire, that’s all GBP want him for”
Sam Alcaster, Philly: “Didn’t see Oscar being interested in Paulie, but he might win a title again if he gets the right opponent”