He got a text message during the holidays from the kid and Buddy McGirt liked that. He was…and he is, fond of Paulie Malignaggi, even though they split up. Despite what you may have heard. Despite what you may think when you click on that video on the right side of your screen.
Despite what you may think when you watch that video, in which Paulie talks about why he separated from trainer McGirt, why he thinks McGirt’s training methods and strategies hindered him as he looked to be the second man to defeat Ricky Hatton, and instead got stopped in the 11th round of a one-sided faceoff…
Despite all that, Buddy still likes Paulie. But, he told TSS, he will not function as the fall guy, as the “crash test dummy” as he puts it, for much longer. The next writer who calls Buddy and asks him about Paulie’s assertion that McGirt put him in a shell, and stripped him of his greatest assets as a boxer, McGirt says, will hear a less kind, not-as-gentle Buddy.
If you haven’t watched that TSS video, please click on it right now. I taped Paulie on May 19 at the Empire State Building in NY, after the Floyd Mayweather/Juan Manuel Marquez press conference to hype their July 18 scrap. Paulie was present with a pal, a fellow boxer who he was introducing to Golden Boy Promotions’ Richard Schaefer, in hopes of getting his pal in with Golden Boy. Malignaggi talked about his upcoming fight with Mike Alvarado, scheduled for June 27 in Atlantic City. Alvarado hurt his elbow, so Malignaggi is instead negotiating to fight Juan Diaz, the Baby Bull, in August. But watch and listen, please, as Paulie talks about his time with McGirt, and hear him explain why Buddy’s training style didn’t mesh with his strengths. Then come back and read on…
Welcome back. Now, McGirt wasn’t overjoyed when he got wind of Paulie training again in New York after his Nov. 22, 2008 loss to Ricky Hatton, away from Buddy’s Florida gym, and read between the lines that he wouldn’t be working with Paulie anymore. But he understood that sometimes these things happen. He got it that the 28-year-old Paulie was smarting from his lopsided loss to the Hitman, and was searching for reasons why. So, when he didn’t get a face to face chat, or even a phone call from Paulie, informing him that he’d be working with another trainer, Buddy McGirt wasn’t all that surprised. He’s 45, he has a decade plus on Paulie, understands better, maybe, that people sometimes don’t have those difficult conversations they should have. McGirt, who fought as a pro from 1982-1997, understands that people, when they are fond of each other, often shrink back from confrontation. It is easier, less painful, less wrenching, to let a relationship wither, as opposed to severing it up close, where you can see the pain in someone’s eyes.
I asked Buddy, in a phoner, about Paulie’s charges. Is it sour grapes? Are his feelings hurt? Did you insist he fight in the pocket, Buddy, and reduce his movement?
“If you saw the fight, if he wasn’t clinching, he was running, and if he wasn’t running, he was clinching,” said McGirt. “That means his legs were fine. There was nothing wrong with his legs. The number one rule in boxing is don’t move straight back. Also, the old time trainers tell boxers to get in the pocket, get respect. If he said I was preventing him from going straight back, I don’t know what to say. He’s blaming me, he should be praising me!”
McGirt told TSS he is still fond of Paulie. The two men shot the bull for many hours, about matters unrelated to boxing, on countless occasions after McGirt took over from Billy Giles following the June 2006 loss to Miguel Cotto.
“I love him. But I’m not going to be the crash test dummy much longer. If he’s the man I think he is, he has to man up. The next interview I’m going to blow. I got to stand my ground. I don’t want to do it because I love him.”
McGirt shared his reasoning on why he thinks Paulie is pointing to his association with him as the major factor in the loss to Hatton. “He knows deep down in the second round he got clipped with that left hook. Be a man, admit it, move on. The whole world knows what they saw that night. He’s got to come to grips with it, got to accept it and move on, so he doesn’t always have that stuff in the back of his mind.”
Something tells me that the next time Buddy is asked about this topic, he’s not going to go all ax-murderer on Paulie. He doesn’t thrive on the drama. Frankly, the Libra in me wants these two to hug it out, get closure.
In closing, Buddy shares some 45 years worth of wisdom, accumulated over 80 pro bouts, in which he won junior welterweight and welterweight titles.
“He’s going through a tough time in his life. From my experience, my first loss, to Frankie Warren in 1986, I went home and realized what happened and accepted it as a man, and moved on. That’s what Paulie has to do.”
McGirt pauses, thinks about some of the good times they shared, their chats. “I still love the guy. We had a really good friendship. Regardless what some people think of him, he’s a good kid. Woods, tell Paulie I love him.”