Malignaggi Sets Focus on Second World Title

Malignaggi looks to become a world champion in a second weight class on April 29th (Photo courtesy of Team Malignaggi).

Former IBF Junior Welterweight Champion Facing WBA Welterweight Titleholder Senchenko

When he decided to make the move into the welterweight division in 2010, former IBF Junior Welterweight Champion Paulie “Magic Man” Malignaggi (30-4, 6 KOs) had his sights set on becoming a world champion in a second weight class. Now that he is locked into a fight with WBA Welterweight Champion Vyacheslav Senchenko (32-0, 21 KOs) on April 29th at Donboss Arena in Donetsk, Ukraine, the Brooklyn native sees himself with the opportunity to do just that.

"I look forward to becoming the WBA World Welterweight Champion," Malignaggi remarked. "I'm not worried about fighting over there because the WBA and Golden Boy Promotions have appeased any fears I may have had at first. Golden Boy takes good care of its fighters, so I took the fight."

Malignaggi last fought in October when he took on Orlando Lora in the opening bout of a PPV telecast that featured Bernard Hopkins and Chad Dawson in the main event. He out-boxed the Mexican welterweight to win via unanimous decision in convincing fashion, making him unbeaten in three fights at his new division. He has also defeated Jose Miguel Cotto and Michael Lozada since bumping up in weight class, and the combined record of his opposition at welterweight is 128-9-3.

"I love fighting at 147 pounds and look forward to this opportunity to become a two-division world champion that will legitimize me even more," Malignaggi continued. "I'm smarter now about my body and making 147 isn't a strain. I'm a high-energy fighter, and now I'm not draining myself losing weight."

The Magic Man also spoke about the motivation of wearing the WBA strap when the newest arena in New York opens later this year.

"This fight is driving me because I want my first title defense to be at the Barclay Center in Brooklyn October 20th on opening night," he stated. "I'm going to beat this guy to become a two-division world champion. Senchenko's never been in the ring with anybody like Paulie Malignaggi. He's never seen anybody like me. He has fought in the comfort of his home during his entire career against pitiful opponents.”

Since fighting for his native Ukraine in the 2000 Olympic Games, Senchenko is unbeaten in 32 professional bouts, with virtually every bout occurring on his home soil. He became the WBA Welterweight Champion when he decisioned Yuriy Nuzhnenko in 2009 and has successfully defended his title three times since that victory.

"I'm the biggest name he's ever fought. He's never fought anybody on my level,” Malignaggi said of Senchenko. “He's in for a rude awakening April 29th. I'm going to force him to adapt and dig down to the point where he's not going to want to get up and fight me every three minutes. I have the answer for everything he brings into the ring. There's nothing he can do that I haven't seen and can't handle. I'm better than him. Senchenko has never fought anybody like Paulie Malignaggi."

Malignaggi became the IBF World Junior Welterweight Champion when he defeated Lovemore N'dou in a 12-round unanimous decision in June of 2007. He successfully made his first title defense the following January by taking a unanimous decision over Herman Ngoudjo and then again defeated N’dou in May of 2007. The Brooklyn native vacated his title in September of 2008 to fight then IBO Light Welterweight Champion Ricky Hatton in the main event of a November HBO card in Las Vegas, suffering a loss to the British titleholder. Next on tap was a two-bout series with Juan Diaz that ended with a convincing decision win in Chicago, and Malignaggi then put up a valiant effort in a defeat to Amir Khan in May of 2010 at Madison Square Garden, his last outing as a junior welterweight.

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