So, former junior welterweight titlist, Paulie Malignaggi is now a welterweight world titlist after stopping the Ukraine's Vyacheslav Senchenko at the Donbass Arena in Donetsk, Ukraine on Sunday afternoon.
Aside from bringing the WBA belt back from the black hole of the Soviet Bloc boxing world, Malignaggi's win also creates significant repercussions in the second tier of the welterweight division.
Obviously, guys like Mayweather, Pacquiao, and even Berto and Ortiz won't be directly affected by Sunday's goings on in the Ukraine, but for the fighters right below the elite, the crowning of a new WBA titlist could be a significant event.
First, let's not fool ourselves into thinking that Malignaggi's win was anything more than a win over an untested, unproven paper champion. Senchenko had beaten nobody and was able to hold the WBA belt for three years due to an infrequent fight schedule and a very low level of opposition.
Still, while a win over Senchenko means little, the capturing of the belt is significant. After all, it is one of the four recognized world titles and held a historical significance before being lost in the fog of the well-guarded Euro-circuit. A return to the States means a return to the light and to a significantly higher standard of quality control.
A casual look at the WBA welterweight rankings shows an extremely weak list of potential challengers with a top three of complete unknowns: Ismael El Massoudi, Thomas Dulorme, and Diego Chavez-- a trio of challengers with no real, world class wins on their resumes. If Malignaggi wanted to play the game, he could certainly milk the WBA's weak rankings and make some low-profile defenses.
More likely, though, the new champ will explore a bigger payday and, consequently, a higher level of opposition.
The winner of Ortiz-Berto II on June 23 would be the most logical choice all the way around. Paulie would get a high profile payday and Berto or Ortiz would have a fairly safe path to another world title.
Another option for Paulie would be a bout with UK prospect, Kell Brook in a well-paid excursion across the pond. Brook is currently ranked sixth by the WBA, so he would easily qualify for the title shot. At the same time, the talented Brit would get a chance at adding a world title to his resume without having to go through any of the top welters.
A third option would be to arrange for an in-house defense against fellow Golden Boy fighter, Devon Alexander. It's no secret that Golden Boy appears to be positioning Alexander for a title shot and Malignaggi-Alexander would be a win-win for the promotional company.
Whatever path he takes, it looks as though Malignaggi has, really, just two options-- Face weak opposition and keep the title in the short-term for small paydays or face one of the division's better fighters for big pay in a likely losing effort.
In the meantime, though, the fast-talking Brooklyn native can relax and celebrate a solid, entertaining victory.
Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and a close follower of the sport for more than thirty years. He is also a contributor to Fox Sports. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing.
Boxrec, Boxing Records and Statistics
Yahoo Sports/Associated Press, Malignaggi wins welterweight title
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