Just one problem if Floyd Mayweather fights Paulie Malignaggi. Who the heck are the fans going to root for?
Two guys who typically wear the villain hat, facing off…What are viewers who aren't in the Floyd circle of love or Paulie's Brooklyn crew gonna do? Flip a coin?
TSS chatted with the New York based junior welterweight, who like all of us is waiting to hear what's next for Floyd after the Manny-Money megafight went off the tracks. Mouthy Malignaggi made a strong case for why he, and not Matthew Hatton, or Nate Campbell, or Ivan Calderon (LOL) should get to glove up with Mayweather.
“I'm not sure what's going on with a Mayweather fight, I'm hearing a lot of rumors,” Paulie said Tuesday afternoon. “I know my name is in the mix.”
His name isn't in the mix to face Manny Pacquiao, he said, which flies in the face of those who maintained that his stance that Pacquiao might well have been using PEDs was merely a ploy to land a Pacquiao scrap. You'll recall that Malignaggi talked to TSS on Dec. 31 and put forth some of his opinions on why he thought Manny's rise might not be purely man-made (http://www.thesweetscience.com/boxing-article/7579/paul-malignaggi-explains-why-thinks-manny-used-peds/).
“I think that story ended my chances of fighting Manny. My name was in the mix. I think Team Pacquiao is scared what I might say, that I might shine more light on them. If as some say I'm not in Manny's caliber, my name wouldn't have come up. I think it was about the fear of me opening my mouth.
“As for Nate Campbell fighting Floyd l I think Richard Schaefer is just putting that out because Nate is with Golden Boy. That said I can't say he doesn't deserve it. But it's all up in the air. I'm waiting,” he said.
“I think I'm the best junior welterweight, over Tim Bradley or Amir Khan. Bradley is no joke. Hey I'm not saying I'm the best pound for pounder in the world, I'm saying I'm the best junior welterweight. Put me in with anybody and they have their hands full. 2008 is my problem. I had a trainer that didn't know what he was doing with me. I wasted a lot years. It took me a long time to get the right team together. It's no coincidence that I went straight down and came straight back up. 2008 shouldn't exist. I can make the case that I'm the best junior welter in the world, power or no power.”
Pro Pacman fans come on this board and hammer Malignaggi for his bravado. They slam him for his lack of pop–he has just five KOs in 27 wins–and the fighter is tired of hearing and reading that slam.
“My game has nothing to do with power, and power had nothing to do with any of my fights, except for the Cotto fight. Lack of power is never the issue, that's not why I have lost. The media and fans are all into power, the media should all get a hobby. These guys are so moronic, all they can come up with is 2008.” Onward and upward, the Twitter Hitter said. I will have only good performances from here on out. If I can fight twelve rounds and I can control things, it isn't about power.”
Of the names being thrown in the mix for Floyd's next bout, Malignaggi's mouth would do the most in the marketing department. Course, Floyd doesn't really need any help in that arena, but the hype-o-rama counting down to Mayweather-Malignaggi would be something, wouldn't it?
“Anyway, whether I get it or not is up to Team Mayweather. But I'm the most marketable of the guys mentioned. Could he pick Matthew Hatton over me? I don't know how. He hasn't held a title. That should eliminate him. He's so low on the ladder.”
If he does get Floyd, Malignaggi says his speed, which Zab Judah and Oscar De La Hoya used to good effect before Floyd made adjustments, would make it hard for Mayweather.
“Floyd is the best fighter in the world because he's the smartest fighter in the world,” Malignaggi said. “It's about the adjustments he makes. It's not that he's impenetrable, flawless. He's just the most complete fighter I've ever seen. The trick with him is to maintain your speed and consistency. “
The book on Floyd has been that a pressure rumbler like Jose Luis Castillo is his Kryptonite, but Malignaggi says Floyd's grown so much since he met Castillo, in 2002, that a rumbler wouldn't be his worst nightmare.
“I'd keep Floyd on his back foot, not getting off so much. I'm a speed guy, I don't get reckless. I do little bursts and then leave you there. I know how to fight Floyd, make him do things he doesn't want to do.
The media backlash could get pretty intense if Mayweather goes from entertaining a clash with top pound for pounder Pacquiao, to a clash with a guy who's the second best boxer in his own family, Matt Hatt. Malignaggi recognizes this, and bolsters his case why he should get the plum assignment.
“I'm 29. I'm in my prime. And I'm not gonna be like, 'I'm happy to do this,' and be like Hatton, all respectful and nice. I won't be run of the mill 'I respect my opponent,' 'I'm in shape,' all that corny stuff on the podium.”
The New Yorker sees he and Mayweather in the same boat, often hammered my media and fans because they aren't cookie-cutter sportsmen, humble hitters revered for their Everyday Joe personas.
“I'm in the same boat as Floyd, though he is definitely the best in the world. I know he's accomplished more. But guys like us, whatever we accomplish, it's never enough, people still s— on us. It's based on envy and jealousy from the media and fans. If you ask me about boxing, I'll tell you I'm good. I'm gonna give it to you the way I see it. Most guys would be the same way if they were in my shoes, or Floyd's. People hate us, people do tune in to see us lose. They say, 'I'm not watching his next fight,' and they do. A million people watched him against Juan Manuel Marquez. My fights on HBO always are among the highest rated. No matter people say, they can all s— my —-. They will tune in to watch Paulie Malignaggi fight.”
Can the public handle a villain vs. villain scrap?
“It makes for an interesting situation,” Malignaggi said. “People do want a guy to root for. But if we do fight, people will not be sure what we're gonna say or do. And we both do know how to fight.”
Of any of the rumored foes for Mayweather I've heard, Malignaggi makes as much or more sense to me than any of them. Maybe 140 is a little light for Floyd at this time, though, so would that put Paulie out of the running?
“It'd probably be at 147 which isn't a problem because I've been at 140 for almost eight years so it's a good excuse to see how I feel at 147,” Malignaggi said.
140, 147, whatever, you know the kid's mouth will still function, whatever the weight. Bottom line–the countdown to the bout would feature all-star trashtalk, and the bout would be a purists' delight.
I'm game. Paulie is. Next move is Mayweathers'…