Malignaggi last fought in December when he defeated fellow Brooklynite Zab Judah at Barclays Center (Photo by Tom Casino, Showtime).
Written by John Archibald, Resolution Sports
Paulie “Magic Man” Malignaggi (33-5, 7 KOs) has always been known for a dangerous mix of superior boxing IQ with exceptionally fast hand and foot speed, the type of unique skill set that has helped him raise a world title in two different weight classes. Come April 19th, the Golden Boy welterweight will look to bring home a third world title to his native Brooklyn when he battles undefeated IBF Champion Shawn Porter (23-0-1, 14 KOs) on the Bernard Hopkins vs. Beibut Shumenov undercard, a feat that advisor Anthony Catanzaro totally expects his fighter to achieve.
“Paulie’s big fight experience is definitely going to come into play,” Catanzaro predicted of the Porter showdown. “We won a world title fight in the Ukraine (against Vyacheslav Senchenko in 2012). As far as the ambiance in DC, it will be much more in our favor. It will be much more accommodating to take the ride over to the DC Armory as opposed to flying over the Atlantic Ocean and going into the Ukraine to take a world title. Psychologically, a world title fight is something we have gone through before, and we welcome the challenge of fighting on Bernard Hopkins’ undercard , fighting on the East Coast and fighting an undefeated fighter."
What Malignaggi may lack in power is more than compensated in his speed and defensive impulses, and Catanzaro says those skills will certainly play a role on April 19th.
“Paulie’s foot and hand speed will be very tough to deal with on fight night,” he remarked. “We’re going to force Porter to think in a way that he has never had to do in his life. We understand that Porter is a young unbeaten champion who wants to keep his belt, and he’s not going to give that title away easily. He’s going to come out and try to make it a dog fight, while we’re going to make sure that it remains a boxing match. We’ll look to keep hold of the momentum on our side and dictate where we want to fight, how we want to fight and eventually come away with the title.”
The relationship between Catanzaro and Malignaggi is one that dates back many years and through two world championships, one at 140 pounds and the second at 147 pounds when the Brooklyn native stopped Senchenko two years ago. With the help of Catanzaro and the rest of his team, Malignaggi has found great success both inside and outside of the boxing ring. Most recently, he won the Sam Taub Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism in his first full year as a broadcaster while also competing in the main event of two separate Showtime Championship Boxing cards.
“The fighter makes us look good. That’s the bottom line,” Catanzaro said of Malignaggi. “Obviously, you always try to make the best decisions for the fighter, but, at the end of the day, Paulie is the one who has to win his fights. And like I said, he continually makes us look good. He’s an extremely dedicated, professional, proven fighter who has been at the top level since the amateurs. He fought all of the top amateurs. He’s fought all of the top pros. He’s come up the right way.”
Oftentimes underappreciated, Malignaggi is a fighter who has always poured every bit of his heart and determination into each performance, and that is a key factor in how he has remained at a world championship level for nearly a decade.
“A lot of people thought we bit off more than we can chew in the first Lovemore N’Dou fight (where Malignaggi won his first world title), saying it was premature,” Catanzaro reflected. “We not only won the title, we shut Lovemore out in a way that he has never been dominated before. It’s a testament to Paulie Malignaggi the athlete, his character and being the whole package. A lot of guys can bring more to the table in terms of punching power, but I’ve never heard anyone say the granite chin Malignaggi, the tenacious Malignaggi. The extremely stubborn Malignaggi who loves to challenge himself and loves to compete at the highest level.
“Challenging yourself is what all great athletes love to do. He’s continued to do that and compete at the top level for all of these years. Fighters have come and gone in every weight class. Paulie is still one of the biggest names out there in boxing , fighting in another world title fight. He’s also a tremendous ticket seller who has helped to transcend the sport. He’s a tremendous commentator, winning the 2013 Sam Taub Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism. There have been a lot of great times. And he’s done all of this at just 33-years-old, mind you. It’s been a joyous ride. We have a great tightknit team, from the technical staff to the managerial staff to the support staff. But at the end of the day, it’s the fighter who makes us all look good. If he doesn’t perform in the ring, it’s all for naught.”