Few prizefighters of world championship caliber travel overseas like Paul Malignaggi. You can go down the list of current world champions from the U.S. and you would be stymied by the effort.
New York City’s Malignaggi (30-4, 6 KOs) scoffs at the pundits that predict destruction at the hands of WBA welterweight titleholder Vyacheslav Senchenko (32-0, 21 KOs). Their Sunday morning world title clash takes place in Donetsk, Ukraine. The pay-per-view fight card will begin at 10 a.m. PT and 1 p.m. ET.
Outside of fellow welterweights Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero and Timothy “Desert Storm” Bradley, only one other American dares travel outside of the North American continent to demonstrate their fighting prowess.
But if you must you must.
Malignaggi travels with impunity to Europe and other areas. In fact, the Brooklyn raised boxer known as “Magic Man” is currently training in Milan, Italy to prepare for the world champion Senchenko.
“It’s good to get used to European time zone. So I can be more adjusted to the eastern time I got here a week ago,” said Malignaggi by telephone. “We flew in a few guys from Europe, it’s not bad. It’s not all that difficult.”
After losing to the speedy Amir Khan two years ago, the former junior welterweight world champion embarked on a three-fight winning streak over Michael Lozada, Jose Miguel Cotto and Orlando Lora. Combined they had 96 wins and only nine losses. They also all touted knockout power.
Against Malignaggi they proved impotent.
Now here comes Ukraine’s Senchenko, 35, who has never been beaten and has knockout power according to his resume. Only two names on his ledger are recognizable but that doesn’t mean he can’t fight. Many of the Ukrainian boxers are well versed in boxing and possess both power and stamina along with talent.
“He’s more like what I call a textbook boxer. Correct punches, correct fundamentals, not a lot of creativity. There is not a lot of room for creativity. He’s very robotic,” says Malignaggi, 31. “We had sparring partners over the years, we’ve boxed guys with that style over the years.”
A major plus in Malinaggi’s arsenal is his ability to change speeds, tactics and fight inside if the opportunity mandates it.
Many remember his war with Miguel Cotto in 2006. That looked like a wipeout in the early going, then the Brooklyn boxer changed course and turned a one-sided affair into a boxing match. Malignaggi won four rounds on two judge’s cards and five on another. It was an exemplary exhibition of boxing with brains.
Perhaps his most disappointing fight came against the great Ricky Hatton. It was a match that seemed well suited for Malignaggi but he arrived surprisingly flat.
Another subsequent loss to former lightweight champion Juan Diaz resulted in a demand for a rematch. In the rematch the Brooklynite was victorious and he’s been even more successful as a welterweight.
If you look back at Malignaggi’s losses all came against prizefighters who were or have been considered on the top 10 pound for pound lists.
Malignaggi does not compete for a mere payday. He’s always looking for the title and that takes him to the Ukraine where most boxers fear to visit.
“He has a world title and I want to win that title. You have to go to the Ukraine to take it and that’s what I’m going to do,” he said.
Strangely, Malignaggi had been training in the Wild Card Gym in Hollywood when he was told that Senchenko would be arriving to work with Freddie Roach.
“When he came to town we just decided to get out of there,” Malignaggi said, adding that he and trainer Brown packed up and headed to New York for a few weeks, then Milan.
World title fights don’t come often and Malignaggi wants that belt.
One more thing, his fight will be televised and fans have the option to see it despite the distance.
“I was just happy somehow, some way it was able to be broadcast in the U.S. You have to pay for it but you’re getting the whole show,” said Malignaggi.
PAY-PER-VIEW INFORMATION: distributed in the United States by Integrated Sports Media for live viewing at 1:00 PM/ET - 10:00 AM/PT on both cable and satellite pay-per-view via iN Demand, DIRECTV, DISH Network and Avail-TVNfor a suggested retail price of only $29.95. also available via on-line PPV at www.gofightlive.tv.
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