Junior welterweight contender Paulie “The Magic Man” Malignaggi (21-1, 5 KOs) from Brooklyn, New York, has received medical clearance to return to active duty in the ring, after his gutsy recent decision loss to Miguel Cotto in the Garden.

Malignaggi underwent surgery in mid-June to repair his fractured right cheekbone. Yesterday he returned to the Lahey Clinic & Medical Center in Burlington, Massachusetts, where senior plastic surgeon Dr. David J. Bryan evaluated Malignaggi and gave him a green light to start training.

“I can start training right now and sparring in another month or so,” said a clearly pleased Malignaggi. “I’d already started running. This is what I’ve been waiting for. I’m antsy to get back in the gym and to fight again. I want to put my last fight behind me and hope to be fighting again by December so I can enjoy the holidays. I’ll fight anybody out there, as long as they bring something to the table, financially and exposure wise. They have to be first-rate.”

Malignaggi’s manager, Sal LoNano, who moved Micky Ward’s career so deftly, meets tomorrow with Lou DiBella, Paulie’s promoter, in New York City. “Paulie looks great and he’s in good spirits,” LoNano said. “His face has healed very well and I’m meeting with Lou tomorrow to discuss Paulie’s immediate future. He will become world champion next year.”