It’s not a bout that too many would have predicted happening. It’s not one that people were calling for or one that seemed natural to make. But I have to say I quite like the sound of the proposed bout between Paulie Malignaggi and Adrien Broner. To quote from a BadLeftHook article on the subject:
Golden Boy’s Richard Schaefer announced tonight at the Hopkins-Cloud post-fight press conference that a fight between WBA welterweight titlist Paulie Malignaggi and current WBC lightweight titlist Adrien Broner is done for June 22. The fight will be held at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, most likely airing on HBO.
Broner (26-0, 22 KO) is coming off of a pair of thrashings at 135 pounds against Antonio DeMarco and Gavin Rees, while Malignaggi (32-4, 7 KO) hasn’t fought since October, when he won a disputed decision against Pablo Cesar Cano on the first Barclays boxing card.
You can also see Paulie’s thoughts on the bout here:
In some ways it is a slightly disappointing bout. I’d have loved to see Broner face either Burns or Vazquez (or more likely the winner if/when the two meet), but Vazquez’s injury/illness and Burns moving from Frank Warren to Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Sport meant that it was going to take a while for that bout to be made and I can understand why Broner didn’t want to sit around a fairly empty 135lbs division waiting for them. Less understandable is why he decided to skip 140lbs. 140lbs is arguably one of the most stacked weight divisions in boxing right now and with Golden Boy either promoting or having good relationships with Garcia, Peterson, Judah, Matthysse and Khan (as well as a host of other contenders and/or prospects) there’s not exactly a lack of competition for Broner to take on. The only issue might have been that adding Broner to the mix somewhat distorts the proposed 140lbs tournament Golden Boy have planned but even so it’s disappointing that I likely won’t see Broner against those boxers.
A few years back 147lbs was an absolute monster of a division. It was littered with the likes of Mayweather, Pac, Cotto, Margarito, Paul Williams, Shane Mosely, Joshua Cottey, Berto (when he was still a prospect) and a selection of other contenders. These days it’s nowhere close with most of those names having either moved up in weight, disappeared entirely, retired or gone well past their sell by date. While still in the shadow of the big two; Mayweather and Pac, the rest of the division is calling for a star to re-energize it and Broner could be that man.
I think Mayweather could be the key to this.
Broner has spent much of his career being promoted as the “new” Mayweather, to the extent that it almost comes across as a parody and in recent months there has been a certain level of noise trying to match the two up. Once upon a time it would seem ridiculous for a guy based at 135lbs to leap to 147lbs and immediately get in the mix but in recent years that hasn’t been the case. Victor Ortiz, Devon Alexander and Paulie Malignaggi all moved from 140 to 147lbs and picked up world titles (with Ortiz also getting a bout with Mayweather), Marquez went from 135lbs to bouts with Mayweather and Pac and perhaps the best example of all Robert Guerrero moved from 135lbs to 147lbs, put on two solid performances and now finds himself facing Mayweather. If Broner were to beat Paulie then depending on if/when a Mayweather/Alvarez bout happens he’d likely be on a short-list to face Mayweather (although Mayweather’s recent deal with Showtime and Broner’s connections to HBO may add some difficulties).
While Broner has been lapping up the attention and the acclaim, Paulie has quietly been putting together a decent run of form at 147lbs. Many thought his career was essentially over when he was beaten down in 11 one-sided rounds by Amir Khan but he regrouped, moved to 147lbs and beat three solid but not spectacular opponents. Then came the call for him to be the sacrificial lamb to what was meant to be a coming out party for Vyacheslav Senchenko (and Ukrainian boxing in general) but instead he tore up the script with a masterful performance, bemusing, punishing and eventually stopping the then unbeaten world champion. His homecoming bout against the limited Pablo Cesar Cano was less of a success; despite cutting Cano early Paulie struggled to assert himself, ate a number of right hands (one of which put him down) and was lucky to win the decision. 32 isn’t that old for a boxer but with the number of wars Malignaggi has been in, his brittle hands and with one foot already into a role as an on-air pundit/commentator you sense that it’s near to the end for the fast-talking boxer. A bout with Broner brings attention and a sizeable purse and if he were to win then he could guarantee a few more.
As for the bout itself, I rather like it. Broner has had a clear and distinct size advantage over everyone he’s faced (only added to when he missed weight during his 130lbs days). That won’t be the case at 147lbs… he may match the bulk of others but he’ll be somewhat on the short size. Likewise it will be interesting to see if his power moves up with him; more than one boxer has gone from being a wrecking machine at a lower division to a fairly nondescript puncher at a higher weight; at 147lbs Kermit Cintron was seen as being one of the biggest punchers in boxing, at 154lbs he’s struggled to dent anyone with a pulse.
Paulie himself also offers some stylistic problems for Broner. Since coming to prominence with his close win over Daniel Ponce De Leon, Broner’s opponents have generally consisted of face-first brawlers, powerful and aggressive if technically limited and unable to box on the back foot. That style played into Broner’s hands… his reflexes, natural talent and power meant that he punished them as they came forward, ruthlessly exploited the openings they left and when they were pushed back they did little but cover up, giving Broner ample opportunity to put his punches together. In contrast Malignaggi is a slick, stick and move boxer, relying on his jab, handspeed and footwork. He tried to box circles around opponents, picking them off with a jab, following with a right and moving out of the way before anything can come back at him. It will be interesting to see how Broner adapts to playing the bull rather than the matador and how he reacts if he struggles to land anything meaningful on Paulie in the first couple of rounds.
I thin Broner will win… Paulie looked old and tired against Cano, a boxer he really should have handled with relative ease… but Paulie certainly won’t make it easy for him. While I may be disappointed that Broner is skipping 140lbs entirely I think this is a still a good bout and one I look forward to watching. If nothing else the trash talk should be entertaining; Broner tries too hard but has some good lines while Malignaggi is arguably the smoothest talker in boxing today.