Paulie Malignaggi: New York's Finest
INTERVIEW By Jason Petock (March 22, 2006)  
Paulie "Magic Man" Malignaggi
Recently I got the chance to speak with Paulie “Magic Man” Malignaggi in a frank and insightful interview where Paulie pulled no punches about himself, what he wants to accomplish in the Light Welterweight division, how he feels about those who try and doubt him, and his take on Floyd Mayweather Jr. Likable, honest and straight to the point, Paulie is all business and can back up his words and then some. When you talk to him you get the sense that you are talking to a legend in the making and that it is only a matter of time until the rest of the world realizes how important of a fighter Malignaggi truly is. He has proven time and time again that no matter how much negativity is tossed his way that he can still come out ahead and victorious where it counts, and that’s in the ring. He is a fighter who thrives on detractors because it is these haters who only further the exposure of his abilities and true talent. Mike Tyson still makes headlines and is talked about in all four corners of the world, having elevated himself to a level of magnitude that only further solidifies his position in history and reaffirms him as being one of the best ever. Paulie Malignaggi also makes headlines and no matter which side of the fence you sit on when you talk about this charismatic and fascinating boxer, you can’t deny that he truly is the “Magic Man” when he makes that ring walk, steps into that squared circle and dazzles us all with a display of sheer talent. Hardworking, dedicated and true to the sport, Paulie Malignaggi is a throwback fighter in every sense of the word. Boxing has become a better place because of fighters like him and we need more of the same types of boxers cut from the same cloth. Here is what one of Brooklyn’s own had to say about where he fits into the big picture.

JP: Thanks for taking the time out to talk with me Paulie, I appreciate it.

No problem Jay, any time.

JP: When you fought Donald Camarena for the WBC Continental Americas Light Welterweight Title on Feb 10th of this year, you clearly dominated him with superb hand speed, sound technique and timing. Basically you took him to school. How did it feel to be back in there again?

It felt good, and the main thing was the fact that I was healthy. When I’m healthy and I have the use of both of my hands I’m an adept counter puncher and my speed comes that much more deadly because I can throw two handed combinations. So you saw a little bit of everything in the Camarena fight and that was just a little taste because that was my first fight back. But I still wasn’t as sharp as I can be, but all things considered seeing as I was coming off the injury I felt it was a very good performance and it felt good just being back.

JP: Prior to your return to the spotlight, there where a lot of people talking smack about you up to this point. How does it feel to prove them wrong and what would you like to tell them if you could?

Oh man, there’s always going to be haters. There’s always going to be people that want to see your downfall, you know what I mean? I work hard in the gym; I work hard for what I want. And I’m the kind of person that I’ll say what I want and do what I want. And I don’t care who I’m offending you know what I mean? This is my life on the line here, every time I get in there it’s my life on the line. So if people get offended at the way I fight or the way I talk about certain things you know, that’s their problem. I’m only affected by the opinions of the people closest to me, my friends and family. Other than that man I could care less if people don’t like me or not. My fans are important to me; you know what I’m saying? But other than that man, you know, if there’s people that hate on me out there, people that don’t care for me out there, it’s not my problem or for me to change their opinion or views on me, you know what I mean? If they don’t like me, so be it man. I’m going to keep proving people wrong, it’s what I’ve been doing my whole career since the amateurs. It’s going to keep on happening.

JP: You’re fighting Puerto Rican favorite Miguel Cotto at Madison Square Garden for the WBO Light Welterweight strap on June 10th. How important is this fight to you and what kind of statement will you make?

This is a very good fight for me, a very good fight for me. And I plan on making a big statement. I plan on winning in style; you know what I’m saying? It’s the way the “Magic Man” does it. I win in style. You know I involve everybody, I involve the crowd I involve myself. I’m going to put on a show for everybody. Like I said not many people may like it but believe me what I’ll do to Miguel Cotto is the same thing I have been doing my whole career. And it’s not going to change on June 10th. On June 10th you’re going to see a new WBO Junior Welterweight World Champion crowned. And it’s going to be a typical lesson that I’ve served everybody else, only Miguel Cotto is going to be the student on that night.

JP: What flaws do you see in Cotto’s style and is there anything you’ll be able to easily take advantage of?

I feel that I can take advantage of a lot of things. And I plan on taking advantage of every single thing I’m able to. People are going to see that it will be a much easier fight than people think; you know what I’m saying? I think people think it’s going to be a one-sided fight in a lot of ways in his favor. The fight is going to be one-sided. It’s going to be one-sided in the “Magic Man’s” favor. And you know for anybody that doesn’t think so or for anybody that’s doubting it, June 10th is going to be judgment night, and believe me I’m going to have all the tools. I got all the firepower and I’m ready to go.

JP: Would you ever consider fighting Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the future, and how do you think both of you would match up stylistically?

I think that’s an awesome fight stylistically. Me and Mayweather have similar styles. I think he’s the best pound for pound fighter in the world. I think he’s got his hands full though with Zab Judah on April 8th. But that being said I think Floyd is the best pound for pound fighter in the world. And I think in the future, if it’s possible, yeah I would love to fight Floyd Mayweather just to test myself against the best of my era. I think Floyd Mayweather is the best fighter I’ve ever seen in my life. You know if I could ever get the opportunity to fight him one day it would be an honor just to fight him, because I want to fight the best of my generation, the best of my era. When my career is over I don’t want any question marks. I want everybody to know that I fought everybody in my time. And there’s going to be no question marks, whether I was great, or whether I failed or if I came up short. There’s going to be no question marks. I have no doubt in my mind that by the end of my career I’ll be in the Hall of Fame.

JP: Do you have any favorite fighters, and who do you think you resemble most as far as style in the ring?

My favorite fighter was Arturo Gatti. And it always will be man. He gave his heart, he gives everything. He’s Italian like I am, so you know he’s got a similar background to me. So definitely I’ll always look up to him. But the sons of boxing ability and styles, I idolize guys like Floyd Mayweather, Roy Jones, Sugar Ray Leonard. Just you know anybody with a slick style that’s a real smart fighter in there. A lot of fighters have physical gifts; physical attributes but they’re not always the smartest fighters. Guys like Mayweather and Roy Jones and Sugar Ray Leonard; they were not only physically very gifted, all physically gifted, but also very smart fighters and ring technicians. So I can respect and idolize fighters like that.

JP: Now that your hand is healed and you’re about to fight Cotto in June, are you looking at other fighters in the division that you want to face, or do you have enough on your plate now with Cotto?

We definitely don’t want to overlook anybody and I never overlook anybody. But definitely I want the best fighters of my generation like I said. So come June 10th I’m going to take out Cotto. I’m looking forward to fighting guys like Ricky Hatton and the best of the rest of the Junior Welterweight division. So you know one fight at a time. I got Miguel Cotto to focus on first. And I’m going to take care of him on June 10th. I want to fight the best of my era and the best of my generation. But one fight at a time until I get there.

JP: It’s been a pleasure speaking with you and I want to thank you again for this opportunity.

No problem any time.

JP: I know you’ll make Brooklyn proud once more on June 10th. Do you have any closing remarks for anyone out there, friend or foe, or anything else to add before you and Cotto do your thing?

I said a few months back when people were doubting me, I said it, in six months time people will know and are going to start to see that I’m the real deal. And a year from that time people will know that I’m on top of my game and I’m going to be on top of this game. And I’m right on that time schedule. In June it will be six months from when I said that. I made that statement in a couple of interviews. And I said that in six months time people are going to start to realize how real I am. People are going to know how real I am. After that people are going to know just how great of a fighter I am and the capabilities that I have and they’re going to know that this is a future Hall of Famer.
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