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Adrien Broner Defeats Paulie Malignaggi Via Split Decision: What’s Next for the Problem?

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COMMENTARY | After all the hype and cartoonish bad blood, Adrien Broner (27-0, 22 KOs) went ahead and fulfilled his destiny by beating WBA welterweight titlist Paulie Malitgnaggi (32-5, 7 KOs) via split decision Saturday night at the Barclays Center in Malignaggi's hometown of Brooklyn, New York by scores of 117-111, 115-113, and 113-115.

Malignaggi, now a former two-division world champ, came out active and much more aggressive than usual, throwing a large amount of punches that mostly missed and/or struck Broner on the forearms and shoulders.

By the middle rounds, though, it became clear that there was only one fighter in the ring throwing real, scoring punches--- and that was the former lightweight champ from Cincinnati, Broner.

There was a lot of posturing throughout the fight and some points where the bout could've deteriorated into an ugly foul fest, but Broner came through on top, decisively winning the contest despite the close scores issued by two of the judges.

Now, with Malignaggi behind him, the focus shifts to the future for the 23-year-old three-division world champ and reigning WBA welterweight belt holder. Here's a look at Adrien Broner's five best opponent options:

The Winner of Danny Garcia-Lucas Matthysse

Broner got plenty of criticism when he decided to skip over the jam-packed junior welterweight division in favor of a shot at paper welterweight champ, Paulie Malignaggi. A move down to 140 after beating Malignaggi would not only get him some street cred from hardcore fans, but it would present him with a series of high-profile, competitive fights for purposes of building a true world class resume. Both Garcia and Matthysse are real, world class fighters and would push Broner, perhaps like no one else has done. Meeting and beating the winner of Garcia-Matthysse would immediately make Broner king of the hill at 140 and give him full control of one of boxing's best divisions.

Marcos Maidana

The heavy-handed Argentine brawler is back in the mix as a legitimate welterweight contender after impressive TKO wins over Josesito Lopez and Jesus Soto Karass in the last year. Still crude and susceptible to slick boxing stylists, Maidana is always in the game due to his one-punch power. Even under the worst case scenario, Maidana would make for a persistent, aggressive challenge to the fast-rising Broner. A win against Maidana adds a big, credible name to Broner's resume and a very memorable fight to his overall body of work.

Devon Alexander

Rumors are circling that the IBF welterweight champ, Alexander, may be tied to a possible bout with Amir Khan later this year in a qualifier for a shot at Floyd Mayweather in 2014. If the Khan bout is nothing more than a rumor, a match-up with Broner could be the next best thing for Alexander. For "The Problem," Alexander represents a significant step up in class from Paulie Malignaggi. A win would make it clear that Broner is a legitimate world class welterweight who can compete with the very best in the division.

Robert Guerrero

"The Ghost" lost a one-sided unanimous decision to Floyd Mayweather in May, but that by no means eliminates him from his proper place as a legitimate top 10 or even top 5 welterweight. Broner-Guerrero would be a low-end version of Mayweather-Guerrero, more competitive and a real learning experience for the still-developing Broner. A solid win over the tenacious Guerrero would affirm the fact that Broner does, indeed, belong at 147. A dominant win would also place him in the same league as mentor and obvious role model, Mayweather.

Keith Thurman

The 24-year-old banger from Florida is just starting to earn a reputation as a top prospect at welterweight. A showdown between the two 20-something future stars would be a compelling draw, despite the fact that Broner is significantly more advanced in his development than Thurman at the moment. Although not common to match unbeaten prospects against one another, Broner-Thurman could be a fairly big bout and a legitimate learning experience for both young fighters. The winner, of course, would move on to bigger and better things as the undisputed future superstar of the welterweight division.

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Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and a close follower of the sport for more than thirty years. His work can also be found on Fox Sports and as Editor-in-Chief of The Boxing Tribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing. For breaking news, additional analysis, and assorted crazy commentary, follow him on Facebook, @TheBoxingTribune or on Twitter, @BoxingBTBC.

Source: Showtime Championship Boxing

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