With any luck, the fight between Paul Malignaggi, the WBA welterweight champion, and challenger Adrien Broner at Barclays Center on June 22 will feature the fire and fury that we've seen recently in the interactions between the two fighters.
They had words on April 26 at Barclays, at the weigh-in for the card topped by Danny Garcia-Zab Judah. And they got into it even more on Saturday morning in Las Vegas at the official news conference to announce the clash between Malignaggi, a Brooklyn native whose way with words might even surpass his ring generalship, and Broner, the man who calls himself "Mr. HBO" and makes no secret of his belief that he thinks he's the heir to Floyd Mayweather.
The presser probably deserved an X-rating, as the boxers traded insults mostly having to do with a woman that Broner said Malignaggi dated. They used words that would have had your mom washing your mouth out with soap.
"I take him serious, but he's a clown," said Broner to start. "He got a helluva jab, I call him the 'One Hand Bandit.'"
He then switched gears and said his current flame used to be with Malignaggi. Broner said his gal-pal told him that Malignaggi mistreated her --though Broner admitted he didn't know if that was the truth. Broner said the woman told him that awhile back, back when she was seeing Paulie, she queried Paulie why he didn't have more knockouts, and suggested to get more power, he do more pushups. Broner said that the lady, whose name I won't use because she wasn't there to defend herself or interject, told him Paulie didn't care for the suggestion, and reacted physically. (To be honest, I wasn't comfortable that Broner went there, as none of us know the veracity of the recollection. It struck me that this could be a full-on put-on, though Malignaggi admitted publicly that he did spend time with this "Miss X." Anyway, this incident is a matter of public record, and is, I suppose, news, and could have a bearing on how the fight unfolds, so I am choosing to share it with you.)
Broner actually called the woman he was referring to, and put her---I am assuming for the moment it was her and this whole exercise wasn't a stunt-- on speakerphone. He said he was at a presser with her ex and he promised her he'd take care of it, on June 22. Paulie and a few of his crew made some cracks about the lady.
"He couldn't knock a guy out, so he tried to knock a girl out, so I'm gonna knock him out," said Broner, in closing.
Malignaggi then had the floor. He had his buddy comb his hair, a play on Broner's in-the-ring-hairbrushing gimmick. Malignaggi explained, using a term I won't repeat here, it's too raw for some, that the ex wasn't a woman he was close with, but more of a casual fling partner. He said the woman enjoyed raucous carousing, shall we say, and chuckled as he stated that Broner likely knows her preferences.
Paulie then cracked that Broner has to pay for companionship, and said if not for boxing, Broner wouldn't enjoy female companionship. He mocked Broner for being a Mayweather clone and told him to get his own persona. He said that Broner got to this place because Al Haymon got him there, and predicted that he'd quit on his corner come June 22. The Brooklyner said he didn't care for Broner trying to talk to him when he was working for Showtime at the Garcia-Judah weigh-in, and he looks forward to beating some personality into him.
Malignaggi kept on insulting Broner after his time at the mic. To Boxing Scene's Ryan Burton, he said that he didn't expect to be in the ring with Broner. "I'm not sure about his substance, but we'll find out June 22," he said. He said that he thinks Broner has been "spoiled" a la Andre Berto, another Haymon fighter, who he admitted did show his mettle against Victor Ortiz. Malignaggi again brought up the weigh-in incident, and said that irked him, while the presser antics don't, because he knows that is schtick. He called Broner's talk "corny" and rehearsed. He said he didn't really care about the video which showed Broner cavorting in a gentleman's club, saying that is his personal business.
Broner got in some more licks as well, to Boxing Scene's Luis Sandoval. He said "he's like a female, he wears his feelings on his sleeve." The Cinci boxer, who wore a "Hi Paulette" t-shirt, said Paulie wasn't getting on his nerves, that this is "a real war," and stuff happens in war. He said shoulder to shoulder, Paulie was "little."
In all my years, I've never heard a back and forth quite like this, that stuff about the ex. It was a bit raw for me, I will be honest. Joking about striking a female isn't fair game, I don't think. Anyway, theater of the unexpected, isn't it? And sometimes, the theater is adult fare.