One of the great joys of boxing is watching new stars appear seemingly from nowhere, thrust into the limelight not by salivating promoters or over-eager media but instead simply through the strength of their performances and the acclamation of their fans. This award is to celebrate those who rose from (relative) obscurity in 2012 to become notable names in boxing as 2013 comes to a close.
I’m a little late to post this, but it is certainly still worth mentioning.
A little while back Paulie Malignaggi was doing the usual prefight hype for his upcoming “Battle of Brooklyn” match against Zab Judah. He starts off with a few anecdotes about his time in boxing (including mentioning how Al Haymon’s team called to sign him… one of the reasons he’s the manliest man in boxing) and his relationship with Zab, notably recalling a time when as an amateur Judah was actually helping to corner him during a tournament. It’s very friendly, very light, quite entertaining and fairly standard.
On a side note though, especially in the wake of the crude promotion for Malignaggi vs Broner, it is nice to see Malignaggi not have to go the lowest-common denominator route with his pre-fight hype. Trash talk is all well and good but the stuff prior to Malignaggi/Broner was crude, banal and painted neither of them in a positive light. Malignaggi’s a good enough speaker that he doesn’t need to descend to that level to get people interested in a bout.
But he then goes on to talk about the media reaction to his last bout and notably his post-fight comments about Al Haymon affiliated fighters (as Broner is) getting the nod in narrow contests. He especially objected to the way that some in the media tried to present the fact that one of the judges gave the bout to him in the same context as CJ Ross’s ridiculous card in the Mayweather/Saul Alvarez bout. Personally, I did have Broner winning, albeit somewhat narrowly but I can certainly understand why a judge would favour Paulie; it was very much a bout where Paulie’s higher workrate went against Broner’s more precise punches.
Paulie then used this to launch into a wider attack on the boxing media. He focuses on what he sees as the media’s obsession with the “nerdy” side of boxing writing; working out a pound for pound top ten, “analysing” fantasy fights and establishing who the lineal champions of a division are for example while seemingly refusing to really engage with some of the bigger issues confronting boxing. He uses himself as an example, pointing out how “rants and raves” about things when really, it should be the media driving the crusade on them. He finishes by mentioning that while the media will often criticise a boxer who is ahead in a bout “playing it safe” and coasting the last few rounds to minimise risk at the cost of excitement, the media won’t take the risk of really investigating major stories if the risk is they lose media credentials and press access.
It’s a powerful rant and one Paulie clearly feels strongly about.
And I agree with him.
On a separate forum a discussion once arose about who was the “manliest man in boxing”. You can guess the names that were involved… the hard hitting, chain smoking, beer drinking, wildly (but incredibly non-politically correct) entertaining Ricardo Mayorga. The hard hitting brawler Marcos Maidana. The tough, uncompromising former marine Ken Norton. The wonderfully moustached original heavyweight champion John L Sullivan. I even put forward my own suggestion, one of my favourite boxers of all time, Daniil Peretyatko (and after seeing this photo of sheer unbridled masculinity at it rawest I don’t see how many can disagree). And then someone joking put forward Paulie Malignaggi as a suggestion and got a couple of laughs.
I sat there and I thought about it. And then I thought about it some more.
And now I think Paulie Malignaggi may be the manliest man in boxing…
You know, sometimes I hate seeing that Thomas Hauser has published another article.
That’s not because I don’t enjoy them. It’s not because they’re poorly researched. It’s not because they’re badly written. None of the above apply; Hauser is a fantastic writer.
It’s because Thomas Hauser asks the questions that need to be asked which lead to the answers that we don’t necessarily want to hear.
One of his main… I guess investigations is the correct term to use… over recent years has been the use of performance enhancing drugs in boxing and he has written confidently, authoritatively and intelligently on the subject. His latest excellent article can be found here (credit thesweetscience.com), with an extract below. It’s a brilliant but somewhat unsettling read but it is something every boxing fan should read and take notice of.
Thus, it’s worth focusing on Edwin Rodriguez and the laudable commitment to 24-7-365 VADA testing that he recently made.
In August of this year, Rodriguez signed with manager Al Haymon. At least three of Haymon’s fghters (Andre Berto, Antonio Tarver, and J’Leon Love) have tested positive for PEDs in the past.
Another Haymon fighter (Peter Quillin) was enrolled in a USADA testing program prior to his June 2, 2012, fight against Winky Wright. Then, after blood and urine samples were taken from both fighters, Wright was told that the testing had been abandoned and the samples were destroyed.
Haymon also represents Adrien Broner.
Broner, Antonio DeMarco, Golden Boy (Broner’s promoter), and the United States Anti-Doping Agency signed a contract for USADA testing prior to the November 17, 2012, Broner-DeMarco fight. But according to DeMarco, he wasn’t tested by USADA for that bout, nor was Broner.
Then, on June 22, 2013, Broner fought Paulie Malignaggi.
“I wanted VADA testing,” Malignaggi recalls. “And I was told, ‘No, we won’t do VADA. If you insist on VADA, there won’t be a fight.’ Finally, I said, ‘F— it. I’m getting seven figures. I’ll go ahead and fight.’ Would I have been more confident that Broner was clean if there had been VADA testing? Absolutely.”
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: