Sorry haters, and there are scads of you, and even more since he went on a social media strafing run, an anti PED kick which saw him kicking dirt and throwing mud in a raucous “I'm mad as hell and not gonna take it anymore!” groove…but I do think Paulie Malignaggi isn't going to shrink back full-time into the analyst seat, and become a milder, more politically correct animal.
You were maybe hoping the Pride of Bensonhurst would hang 'em up, sit on the sidelines with us lowly tappers and at 34, settle into a vocational second life. You were hoping, those of you who call him “Pillowfist,” and find yourselves seizing up and getting antsy when you hear his Brooklyn-ese wafting over the Showtime airwaves, that he'd lower his profile after his last outing, a stoppage loss to Shawn Porter last April (TKO4), and edge closer into darkness.
You were thanking those lucky stars there would be little likelihood that the man who injected the term “sidepiece” into the fight game lexicon, to the shame and dismay of many an old school soul, would be in a position to repeat those antics.
So sorry haters, because the way Paulie is talking, he ain't ready to recede. I seriously doubt we'll ever see a diminishment of his hyper-caffeinated verbal stylings, the rat-a-tat analysis which combines technical acumen and the ability to offer concise bites of said material. And I don't believe now is the time that we'll see how he handles that all-important shift into a new mindset, that of being an active warrior, into a past-tense soldier.
Twitter-heads have seen some banter concerning Malignaggi and his sniffs of interest in K9 Bundrage, who holds a junior middleweight belt.
What about it Paulie, still got that fighting spirit, thinking you might want a crack at a belt in a third weigh class?
“Any world title fight interests me, I'm a fighter,” he told me.
Please note the present tense, and the lack of nuance or shading or equivocation…
“K9 is an interesting style matchup because it would be my boxing against his physicality. Of course, I'm not in charge of making the fights though.
“When I turned pro my goal was to win titles in three weight classes,” the mouthy one continued. “I can't move up more than 154 and even 154, I have to fight very smart. Because the size itself presents a big risk. I'm not a junior middleweight, but a move up for a world title against K9 would be a calculated risk.”
I reached out to Bundrage (34-5; fought last in October, beat then champ Carlos Molina for IBF strap); K9, would you entertain a twirl with Paulie? “Absolutely,” the 41-year-old Michigan native told me. “There are some big fights out there for Team K9. I'm a two-time world champion. I want all the top guys. The fans deserve to see great championship fights. My next fight will be big…Canelo, Cotto, Bradley, Malignaggi…Who's next for K9?”
No, indeed, but you are in charge of choosing whether to continue the campaign, which you started as pro in 2001. I do wonder, is there not now present in your mind any sense of doubt in your ability to do it, to take the blows, seeing as how Porters' launches had your head aching for a spell after in a way you hadn't felt before?
“No, I don't have any doubt in my mind from the loss,” he said, noting that this version of Porter was of a different variety from the guy he scouted a few years before,” and possessed a level of power that has Malignaggi wondering where that rapid onset influx came from…. “The damage taken, I don't worry about that, I have no more lingering effects. If I fight, I fight a few more times at most, then I'll be done…but only if there's some sort of plan that's worth it.”
Yes, he said, he's had a battery of tests from top docs who have given him the thumbs up.
And what of family, and the inner sanctum of pals and such…are they all down with him gloving up again? Or would they like him to transition to the “easy” chair at the Showtime announce booth, full time?
“Yeah, they aren't thrilled if I fight, but they support whatever decision I make.”
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