Paulie “The Magic Man” Malignaggi: “Paulie Malignaggi is coming back so let the jealously begin!”
Interview by "Big Dog" Benny Henderson Jr. (July 13, 2005)
He’s brash, he’s ballsy, and he don’t give a flying flip what you think of him so let the boxing world brace themselves because Paul Malignaggi, 19-0 (5), is back and the ‘Magic Man’ is ready to pick up where he left off and do some wear and tear on the light welterweight division. The undefeated Brooklyn boxer will return August 25th time, place and opponent TBA. But one thing is for sure, the twenty-four year old pugilist misses the limelight and he is ready to explode once again.
The former amateur champion stepped in the pro ranks in the summer of 2001 and made his 27 second debut by stopping Thadeus Parker via TKO, and since that point he has terrorized all in his path with his uncanny boxing ability. The New Yorker has had wins over such opposition as the fight veteran Ray Martinez (10 round UD) Ramiro Cano (10 round UD) and in his last bout Malignaggi captured the WBC Intercontinental light welterweight title when he defeated Sandro Casamonica via 7th round technical decision. Plagued with an injured right hand for most of his career, Paulie underwent surgery to correct the problem and has been away from the ring for the past seven months, but he is ready to return and Paulie is determined to win a world title.
The crafty fighter has made his mark on the division and the boxing world, but he feel his work has just begun and he is set to defeat all in his pathway. Paulie isn’t afraid to box or brawl and most certainly isn’t afraid to give you a piece of his mind, and he does just that in this candid interview conducted by the Doghouse, enjoy.
Benny Henderson Jr.: I know you’re probably tired of hearing this question but how is the hand?
Paulie Malignaggi: (Laughs) Yeah it is a question I am used to hearing unfortunately. The hand is almost where I want it to be at I think, it depends on how I throw it; sometimes I still feel some pain. It is getting better, it feels a little better everyday and by the time I fight on August 25th I should be all right.
BH: You’ve already had two surgeries on your right hand and you are just in your fourth year as a professional fighter and your only twenty-four so you should have many more years and fights ahead of you, but have you ever thought about the lasting affects these injuries or possible future injuries to your right hand could have on your life as far as chronic pain and have your worried about further punishment producing permanent injury?
PM: You know sometimes I worry about it but the thing is this, there is no price that I am not willing to pay to be great in this sport. If that means later on having some damage to it that is permanent, I do care as long as I achieve something great into this game. I want to be in the Hall of Fame and there is no price that I am not willing to pay to get into there. I understand that there is a possibility that my hand won’t be the same when I am done with this sport.
BH: Has there been an opponent named for your August return?
PM: There is no set opponent but we are looking at a couple of guys but nothing is set yet. We are hoping to get somebody in the next week or two.
BH: Would you prefer to have a tune up bout to maybe knock off any ring rust or just jump back into the mix and go after a big named fighter?
PM: I don’t want an easy fight; some people are telling me make sure that the hand is ok and take an easy fight. I don’t want an easy fight; I want a guy who is going to come to fight and I don’t really feel that I need to be tuned up, I feel that I am in good shape and getting in better shape here at camp and I can take on what ever they bring to the table. I want somebody who is going to come to fight. My prior opponents you didn’t see them lay down for me they came to fight and they came to win. I respect the opponents that come to fight me. I don’t want things giving to me; I want to earn my victories.
BH: There could be some tremendously big bouts for you in the near future in fact you stated that you wanted to be world champ in late 2006 or early 2007. Out of the long list of possible match-ups whom would you personally like to start off with to reach that goal?
PM: To tell you the truth, if I had a chance to fight any of the champions right now I would probably fight Miguel Cotto, I think I would match up well with him. I don’t think he is as good as people make him out to be. I am not taking anything away from him because I think he is a good fighter but just not what people thinks he is. I would like to fight Ricky Hatton I just don’t think I would go to Manchester to do it, I don’t trust the judging out there or the way they referee their bouts out there, obviously we seen what happen to Kostya Tszyu. But if I had my personal choice it would be Cotto.
BH: In our first interview together about a year ago you stated that your boxing hero was Arturo Gatti, an apparent warrior in the ring. What were your thoughts on his bout against Floyd Mayweather Jr., in your opinion what went wrong for Gatti?
PM: I just think stylistically the match-up wasn’t right for Arturo and Mayweather is my second favorite fighter just because he is such a good boxer, he is a smart boxer and I try a lot of things from him in the terms of learning. But Arturo I just love because he has given so much to the sport and he is Italian like I am so it is somebody to look up to, I will always look up to him. Floyd is just a notch above Gatti as far as talent and skill goes. I think that was what was wrong because Floyd doesn’t allow you to do much if you can’t handle it.
BH: What would be your fight plan against the likes of Mayweather, Hatton or Cotto, and who would you see being your toughest opponent?
PM: I think Mayweather is definitely the toughest out of the bunch; Mayweather is the pound for pound best fighter in the world today. I don’t think there is much difference between Cotto and Hatton they are pretty much aggressive fighters they like to go to the body and they like to come and get you. I would fight Cotto just because I wouldn’t have to go out the country, a fight between me and Miguel Cotto at Madison Square Garden would be perfect. You would have all the Puerto Ricans for him and I am from New York and I can draw a lot and I think it would make a big splash in New York and hopefully that will come around soon. I am looking to get a title shot after these next few fights; after I test my hand out I am going to be looking for that title shot.
BH: What about the other young guns in your division, as for instance Arnaoutis, Urango, and Holt, etc. What are your thoughts on that bunch and which one of these guys do you think would be a good fight for yourself and be entertaining for the division?
PM: I think the most exciting out of the bunch that I would match up well with would be Urango. Just because he comes to bring it all to the table and I am a boxer so whenever you match up a boxer and a puncher against each other it makes a good fight. I can’t stand Mike Arnaoutis and his people because they said some derogatory things towards me so I don’t really appreciate them. Kendall is a great boxer but like I said I think me an Urango would be more of an exciting fight just because stylistically I am a boxer and a boxer and a boxer sometimes doesn’t make a great fight but throw a boxer in with a puncher and it is more of an exciting bout.
BH: Out of your bouts so far which one are you most proud of?
PM: I don’t have one that sticks out of my mind, every bout I win gets me a step closer to a world title so my last win is probably the one I am most proud of because I overcame a broken hand to win it. A lot of fighters would quit if they broke their hand in a fight and I didn’t do that, I showed that I have a heart of a champion and I want to win in this game.
BH: Some people look at Paul Malignaggi as an arrogant youngster with a nonstop mouth and childish antics, some would just call it selling yourself to the public for entertainment purposes. What do you call it, how would you define your personality and actions?
PM: I would call it a little bit of both Benny, I am low key when I am not fighting but when the spotlight is on me it is still Paul Malignaggi but it is Paul Malignaggi multiplied a hundred times. It is just a crazier or brasher version of Paul Malignaggi; I am still the same person outside and inside the ring but when you put the cameras on me and the spotlight is on me the wild person comes out of me. It is like a Jekyll and Hyde, when the spotlight comes on I am changing and I am going to become this mean fighter, this mean person, we are not playing tennis in there and I am not looking to make friends and I don’t want to be your friend once we got to fight. I am going to win the title, and at the end of the day that is what I’m going to do.
BH: What motivates you the most?
PM: Boxing has give me a chance to make something out of myself, where at one point of myself I didn’t think I was going to be able to do that. I was getting in trouble and boxing has giving me an opportunity to do something, to write my name in the history books. I think after I retire a lot of people is going to appreciate me, like Parnell Whitaker, people gave him a lot of hell throughout his career but now a lot of people respect him. People may say ‘oh, he is comparing himself to Whitaker’; yes I am comparing myself to Whitaker. There are a lot of similarities except for the fact that I am right-handed and he is left-handed. Look at my face, I do not get hit, I don’t look like a fighter so there are similarities there.
BH: It has been a while back ago but I was watching the Gonzales and Diaz fight and all of a sudden I see you be hauled out by the police, what on earth happened?
PM: Ok Benny, I have explained this to a few people and I just want to get this out there because a lot of people are getting the wrong idea of me and the Gonzales thing. Al Gonzales and his management team have been calling me out for a long time already, they attacked me verbally on a personal level. It got to the point where I started answering back, at first I didn’t want to answer back because who is Al Gonzales? Al Gonzales is a nobody! You actually asked me a few questions ago about me and the other top prospects and you didn’t even mention Al Gonzales, because Gonzales isn’t on anybodies prospect list. I got mad, I got tired of this guy calling me out, this guy and his management team kept coming at me in interviews so I started answering back. When I found out they were fighting in Foxwoods I went over there to break their chops and let them know that they weren’t on the same level as I am. And when he got beat I went up by the ring before the decision even happened because I already knew he got beat so I went to heckle him. I always got to deal with heckling as a fighter, I am the type of fighter that gets on peoples nerves so I get heckled and I did the same thing to them. I gave them a little bit of medicine, so they throw water on me; I got a whole bucket of water thrown on me. So I got mad and tried to attack the ring and by the time I was on camera I was already trying to attack the ring so I looked like a mad man and I got hauled out but I had already got hit with the water. He got me twice with big globs of water and I got thrown out of the arena. I didn’t get arrested or anything. The thing is this, they attacked me personally and then they tried to turn it around on me, they say that Paul Malignaggi is trying to use Al Gonzales to get press; no my man, it is the other way around. Gonzales is a nobody and everybody in boxing knows it, nobody in boxing mentions him as an up and coming fighter, nobody know anything about this guy except when he is talking about Paul Malignaggi, and that’s why they can help but talk about me. I am going to end this once and for all Benny, I got a ShoBox date with him in November, I don’t know the exact date but it will happen. I am going to rid the sport of that pest, this guy is a pest, he is a pretender trying to put himself among the real contenders and prospects in a weight class that is filled with so much talent there is no room for pretenders, so he has to go and I will be the one that makes him go. I am going to be the one that sends him back to the real world and get another job because boxing isn’t for him. I am going to rid the sport of this guy I am going to punish him, he is going to get embarrassed. He is not going to just get beat he is going to get embarrassed.
BH: Is there anything you would like to add to this interview or say inclosing?
PM: I just want to say that I miss being in the spotlight and I miss fighting. This is the longest layoff of my career, I miss being there and I miss everybody. I miss even being booed man. I am coming back man and if you don’t like me you better find something to do with yourself because you are going to be one miserable person. For all those people that don’t like me the media blitz is coming now, Paulie Malignaggi is coming back and everybody wants to know what he is all about. So all these other prospects and contenders in the weight class make your move because Paulie Malignaggi is coming back so now let he jealously begin, you have been jealous before and you will be jealous again.
I would like to thank www.bobtrieger.com for his help on setting up this interview and I would like to give a shout out to Paulie for his time, it is greatly appreciated. Paulie is ranked #9 by the World Boxing Council and is promoted by DiBella.
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