Malignaggi Has Cotto Where He Wants Him

BY Rick Folstad ON June 06, 2006
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The cocky Italian kid from Brooklyn with the fast hands, the big plans and the tongue-twister last name, thinks he has Miguel Cotto right where he wants him.

That’s because the Italian kid has a solid game plan and a healthy ego, which are two pretty important things to have when you’re getting ready to spend a busy evening ducking Cotto’s bombs. You’ve got to figure the WBO junior-welterweight champ is going to attempt to rudely plant Paulie Malignaggi on one of his out-spoken opinions.

“Cotto fights the same way every fight,” said Malignaggi, who fights Cotto in Madison Square Garden on Saturday night (PPV). “The guys who had him in trouble knew how to fight him. When Cotto looks good, it’s because his opponent was sub-par. When he looks bad, it’s just that his opponent knew what he was doing. Cotto looks exactly the same every fight. He’s a one-dimensional fighter.”

But how do we know he‘s one dimensional? Maybe he’s got two or three other dimensions secretly hidden away that we’ve never seen.

The problem is, Cotto is seldom in the ring long enough to show us another side of himself. Undefeated, he has 22 knockouts in 26 fights. He spends more time crawling through the ropes then fighting inside them.

Still, Malignaggi, with only five knockouts in 21 wins, isn’t impressed.

“Besides knowing how to punch, he doesn’t know how to fight,” Malignaggi said. “So on Saturday, I’m going to expose him for what he is.”

What, a world champion with knockout power in both hands?

“He’s like a mummy,“ Malignaggi continued. “He does the same thing every time out.”

Yeah. Wins by knockout.

You’ve got to hand it to Malignaggi. He sounds sincere when he says he plans on shocking the boxing world by beating Cotto. But I don’t think he’s going to do it with a Joe Frazier left hook.

Remember. Only five knockouts.

What Malignaggi does have is speed. Lots of it. He could sell shares and still have enough left over to shame a pickpocket.

“I plan on spoiling the show for a lot of people who are expecting me to get stopped, and a lot of the people who think I’m going to be exposed as a fraud,” Malignaggi said. “The only thing that is going to be exposed is the fact that I’m a world-class fighter.”

But that five knockouts in 21 fights keeps popping up its ugly head.

For him to beat Cotto, you can be pretty sure the fight goes the full 12 rounds.

“Miguel Cotto is in for a rude awakening,” Malignaggi said. “Tell him to keep talking. I‘m going to break his face come Saturday night. He‘s playing with the wrong guy.”

Break his face? What’s Malignaggi going to do, smuggle in a sledgehammer?

There’s that key stat again: Five knockouts in 21 fights.

Malignaggi’s promoter, Lou DiBella , said he’s expecting big things from his fighter.

“Paulie is going to shock the boxing world when he becomes the new 140-pound champ,” DiBella said. “It‘s a fight Paulie has wanted his entire career. Since his third pro fight he‘s been saying, ‘Get me Miguel Cotto. My style matches up with him. I want to prove that I‘m the best.’”

With only five knockouts? Good luck.

Last time a big-name promoter predicted his fighter would score an upset, Don King claimed Ricardo Mayorga was going to stop Oscar De La Hoya. And we all know how that story ended.

Still, Malignaggi has those fast hands. And we all know speed kills.

How important is speed? If God came down and offered me fast hands or a big punch, I wouldn’t even hesitate.

“I’ll take the Joe Frazier left hook, please.”

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