COMMENTARY | Against Adrien Broner this Saturday at the Barclays Center, Paulie Malignaggi will be a Brooklynite fighting in Brooklyn and a world titlist defending his belt. He'll also be the definite B-side of this Showtime Boxing main event-and, apparently, is being treated as such.
The boisterous and abrasive former junior welterweight titlist is not pleased at all by what he perceives to be favoritism shown towards the 23-year-old Broner, who is advised by boxing power broker, Al Haymon.
Malignaggi has been vocal about his concern that the influential Haymon, who also works with Floyd Mayweather and several of the sport's biggest names, may have some pull when it comes to the outcome of the bout. He is now taking things even further by saying that Haymon is acquiring blocks of floor tickets to prevent Malignaggi fans from having ringside seating and that he's also exercising control over who gets booked on the undercard.
"I know what this is. Adrien Broner is with Al Haymon, that's all you need to know," Malignaggi recently told Boxingscene. "I know in boxing, especially in the US for an American fighter, if you're not with Al Haymon you can't make your way up the ladder.
"He's coming to my hometown. You think I'd at least have the crowd on my side…So they give Haymon all the floor seats, all of the undercard spots - there's probably as many guys on the card from Cincinnati as there are from New York…All my friends who want to buy tickets and support me, they're going to be stuck behind a bunch of guys from Cincinnati."
While there's no doubt that Al Haymon is an influential figure in the sport, Malignaggi is failing to understand the real reason behind being treated as the main event B-side---He is the B-side.
Adrien Broner is a rising star and someone Showtime hopes to elevate to superstardom when Floyd Mayweather finally decides to hang up his gloves. Broner, a current lightweight world titlist, has proven himself to be an entertaining fighter and, most importantly, someone who shows signs of being a legitimately bankable star in the very near future. Malignaggi, on the other hand, is a light-hitting, 32-year-old stylist who has not even proven himself to be a stand-alone draw in his own hometown. The only time Malignaggi turns in compelling, entertaining ring work is when he's on the receiving end of thrashings against real world class talents like Miguel Cotto, Amir Khan, and Ricky Hatton. Often excruciatingly dull, the only two viable roles for Paulie at this point are as mid-car filler or stepping stone.
One shouldn't have to be reminded that boxing is a business. Money attracts money. Broner is perceived as a star (or a star-in-the-making), Malignaggi is not. Case closed.
Before firing off rounds at Haymon and, indirectly, at Golden Boy Promotions (promoter of both fighters this Saturday), Malignaggi should take a bit of self-inventory and accept that he has benefited from the same game that's now tilted in Broner's favor.
Back in 2010, Malignaggi looked to be finished as a headliner when he got chewed up and spit out by Amir Khan. After signing with Golden Boy, though, Malignaggi "miraculously" shot up the WBA welterweight rankings to become the mandatory challenger for Vyacheslav Senchenko's title. And he did this fast-paced climb with only one bout at the official 147 lb. limit (against former lightweight contender, Jose Miguel Cotto).
With only one welterweight bout, against an unranked opponent, and two wins over journeymen outside of the 147 lb. limit, Malignaggi saw himself rise to no. 1 in the WBA. After winning the belt, Malignaggi once again found himself "blessed" in his first defense when he won a highly-disputed decision over Golden Boy fall guy, Pablo Cesar Cano.
"I'm a two-time champ and earned my place here," Malignaggi told Boxingscene. "When I first got to welterweight, nobody gave me a chance. Everyone said I was going to get smashed, that I had no power and was just a steppingstone for Golden Boy's prospects. I went to Ukraine and won my title the hard way."
Well, yes and no.
Paulie did go to the Ukraine and beat Senchenko in, arguably, his best ring performance to date. But Senchneko, himself, was universally regarded as the flimsiest of all paper champions, with zero wins over legitimate top opposition. And Malignaggi's road to the title shot was hardly littered with the remains of crushed world class welterweight victims.
Malignaggi benefited from his working relationship with Golden Boy and the fact that his name recognition earned him preference over lesser-known fighters. That's business. Malignaggi may ask aloud what Broner has done to deserve apparent preferential treatment, but that question could be turned around and reworded for him--- What would Malignaggi's career look like right now if he hadn't signed with Golden Boy?
He had to understand all along that he was brought into the fold and fattened up for the purpose of being fed to one of Golden Boy's rising stars. Broner just happens to be that star.
Malignaggi may fuss and fight about his B-side opponent role in this Saturday's bout, but there's no other way to look at things. If he manages to flip the script and beat Broner this Saturday, then maybe he gets to change the nature of his deal.
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.
- Sports & Recreation
- Paulie Malignaggi
- Adrien Broner
- Al Haymon