I recently had a chance to catch up with former 2 division world champion Paulie Malignaggi during the 203rd edition of “On The Ropes” to discuss his highly anticipated bout with Zab Judah. The fight will pit two of Brooklyn’s most popular former champions against each other to see who is the pride of the city, and also who will be moving forward towards another title shot.
Paulie spoke at length about the fight and what he thinks it will do for his career if he can win it. Malignaggi also talks about the boxing landscape, breaking down the upcoming Manny Pacquiao vs. Brandon Rios fight, and also giving his thoughts on Broner-Maidana. Additionally, Paulie talked about the fight he wants most, a rematch with Adrien Broner and also discusses what he thinks he could do differently if they meet in the ring again. Here is what Paulie Malignaggi had to say.
Jenna J: Paulie, you have a very big fight coming up on December 7th, you will be taking on Zab Judah at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. How do you feel about this match up?
Paulie Malignaggi: You know, it’s a fight that has the local scene buzzing. It’s a fight that a lot of people in Brooklyn have always talked about, it’s the big barber shop question, “Who would win the fight between Judah and Malignaggi?”
I’m sure all the barber shops and all the havens where boxing fans hang out and converse at are buzzing. I have been told they are from people that frequent those places. It’s a fight that has a lot of people excited around here, I’m excited about it, I’m sure Zab’s excited about it, so it will be a good show and it will be good for Brooklyn.
Jenna: At this point in your career, you’re a successful commentator, you don’t have to step in the ring. What motivates you?
Malignaggi: You’re right, I don’t have to step in the ring, but if I agree to a fight, then my pride motivates me in and of itself. Before agreeing to the fight I really didn’t think I would fight again, but certain factors do get brought up, opportunities that may lie on the other side of a win over Judah, such as a (Adrien) Broner rematch and things like that are within grasp.
Before, it didn’t look like I would ever get a rematch with Broner, so I really had no desire to get back in the gym and just try to climb the ladder again. I think a rematch with Broner is closer than it may have seemed a few months ago, if I can win and Broner can win. I think it’s a pretty good possibility.
Jenna: When you look at Zab Judah and where he’s at in his career right now, how much of a challenge do you think he is for you?
Malignaggi: I think Judah showed he isn’t a shot fighter, I think of the fight he fought against Danny Garcia, he lost but he showed that he still belongs at this level, he still belongs at a high level and he can compete at a high level. He may not have come away with the world title but he showed he belongs in the ring with a high level competitor like Danny Garcia. I think if I had to judge where he’s at in this point of his career, maybe he’s not the prime Zab Judah but he’s a very dangerous Zab Judah nonetheless.
Jenna: Alright, this coming week we have Manny Pacquiao’s return against Brandon Rios, it will be in Macau, China. Do you think Pacquiao is in with the right guy for this fight?
Malignaggi: I think Pacquiao has to set the pace and set the tone to make it his kind of fight. Being in and out the way he wants to be and setting up those power shots, those speedy combinations. Brandon I think will be well served to test Pacquiao early, try to make it a dog fight right away, you never know if there’s any lingering doubts from the knockout Pacquiao suffered you know.
Pacquiao has suffered knockouts before and has come back pretty good, so mentally if he’s right the way he’s been in the past, then you would expect him to try to impose his own game plan and execute it, unless the age is getting to him. Brandon can cut off the ring, he’s shown some problems once guys move around on him.
If Brandon can cut off the ring the right way, force Manny into a sort of a dog fight, which Brandon absolutely loves to be in, it could be very interesting. Those are really the keys for both guys and I’m curious to see which one is able to make it their kind of fight.
Jenna: Alright, now to the fight that will interest you the most, that would be Adrien Broner on December 14th versus Marcos Maidana, how do you feel about that fight?
Malignaggi: I think it’s a good fight, I think people are in for a good stylistic match up. Maidana will bring the fight to Broner, Maidana will be the stronger guy, Broner has some very good boxing skills. I think Broner will be better served to use his legs more than he’s used them in the past because Maidana may not be the sharpest fighter, and Broner is very hard to hit if you’re not sharp, but what Broner gives you is a body – he doesn’t move his legs.
He may be rolling and twisting and maneuvering, but his feet are planted, and what happens when your feet are planted and you do that against a guy like Marcos Maidana is, he can still physically body you, he can push you around, he can push that head down and rough you up a little bit. That can put you in a place where if you start getting pushed around and you get uncomfortable then you have to adjust.
I think the approach to Maidana is being slick, being smart, but also using your legs, like Devon Alexander did. We haven’t seen Broner do that in a long time and I don’t know that he can do that, so it will be very interesting, and if he doesn’t do that then I’m curious to see just how effective Marcos can be with the power and the physical style.
Jenna: Paulie, you have said that there is no love loss between you and Adrien Broner. Is it going to be very hard for you to be rooting for Broner to win so that you can have that rematch?
Malignaggi: No, it’s competition. There is no love loss, but I can’t say I have a personal dislike for him either. There is definitely some tension there, but it’s more competitive tension I think than anything else. I feel like he has something that is rightfully mine, I feel like it should be me fighting Marcos Maidana, defending my world title, doing that instead.
I would not say I am rooting for him, cause Maidana deserves it just as much as Broner does. I want a shot at Broner more than I want a shoot at Maidana, but if Maidana beats him I want a shot at my old title.
Jenna: Being that the fight you did have with Adrien Broner was so close, when you look at it, is there anything you think you could of done differently that could of got you the edge in the fight?
Malignaggi: I believe I should of got the decision, especially with it being that close and me coming in as champion, being in my hometown, the benefit of the close rounds goes to me, not him, the fact that they went to him is the only reason he got the decision. Having said that, I saw the video and I’ve seen the fight a couple of times and there is definitely, definitely, some things I noticed right away when I saw the video about how I could of done certain things.
Actually I talked with some of my corner guys, saying you guys need to open your eyes cause I have already seen a half dozen things I could of done to adjust. They are not out of the world things that I can’t do, they are little subtle things that have me excited about an opportunity to fight him again, because I really, really feel I would make it close next time.
Jenna: Back to your fight with Zab Judah. How do you expect that fight to play out from the opening bell to the finish?
Malignaggi: That’s the thing, I got to worry about Zab more then I have to worry about Adrien. Zab is going to come in hungry, come in motivated himself. This is not just to extend one another’s careers with a win, but also the pride of Brooklyn and I believe I’m going to see the best possible version of Judah, the most motivated Judah.
It’s going to be up to me to shut him down and execute a game plan that I have for him. We have seen some things on video, I’m sure we will see some things as the fight progresses and the adjustments that I have to make, but I’m confident I can do what I need to do and get the W.