Riding with Paul Malignaggi on the congested freeways of Los Angeles brings forth the full scope of the quick-witted prizefighter who can speak politics, cultural diversity, driving habits and boxing if you prefer within a 15 mile span.
Few others can exemplify the possibilities of working the left and right sides of the brain simultaneously like the Brooklynite. It’s one of the reasons Malignaggi can stand up against the best in the world and win despite lacking a knockout punch.
Power isn’t everything.
Malignaggi (29-4, 6 KOs) aims to show the world on Saturday when he fights Mexico’s heavy-hitting Orlando Lora (28-1-1, 19 KOs) why Golden Boy Promotions signed him to a contract. Fans at Staples Center and those watching on HBO pay-per-view can see for themselves.
Pure guts and a post-graduate mental aptitude inside the ring have enabled the Sicilian-born prizefighter to overcome almost every opponent’s power advantage. It’s like going to war armed with a 32-caliber pistol and the other guy has a rocket launcher. Malignaggi knows when and how to use his weapons.
“I’ve been able to out-fox, out-think fighters that had all of the tools but not the thinking capacity,” said Malignaggi, who believes that beating an opponent mentally is a vastly understated weapon. “I love beating a guy mentally. That’s when you’ve really beaten a guy.”
Mexico’s Lora, 30, has been fighting as a welterweight for the past six years and recently fought in the junior middleweight division. The Culiacan native’s only loss was to Chicago’s David Estrada in 2010. Knockouts are his specialty but is he ready for Malignaggi warfare?
The former junior welterweight world champion is the ultimate guerrilla warrior. He fights on his terms and often resorts to propaganda warfare to drive home his points. Take for instance a recent verbal sparring session with Devon Alexander.
When Golden Boy Promotions announced the signing of the former junior welterweight world champion from St. Louis, there was Malignaggi sitting in the press conference ready to begin the mental assaults.
During the press announcement in Las Vegas a reporter asked if a fight between them was brewing especially after their recent Twitter wars.
Alexander answered by saying he only wanted to fight “top fighters” and Malignaggi shot back “the last time I saw most people thought you lost your last three fights!”
Malignaggi added “Hey, you started it.”
A further announcement by Golden Boy’s CEO Richard Schaefer that a welterweight tournament was being sought only fueled Malignaggi’s interest in fighting Alexander.
“Paul Malignaggi could be one of the considerations for the tournament,” said Schaefer, who did not want to tie up in future possibilities but did not discount a Alexander-Malignaggi firefight. “We have a lot of good fighters to take a look at.”
Ever since signing a promotional contract with Golden Boy the Brooklyn boxer has made a seamless transition to Southern California. He recently visited East Los Angeles for the first time.
“It’s a lot like Brooklyn,” he says.
Boxing fans from East L.A. know a lot about boxing and know the Italian boxer from Brooklyn has fought on despite broken hands, broken jaws and bloodied face. Where others have quit you won’t see Malignaggi look for surrender.
“You find out more about yourself in the ring than anywhere else especially if you’re taking some big shots,” says Malignaggi. “It’s like a truth serum to your soul.”
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV