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This Could Be Last Call For Paul Malignaggi…Or His Best Pro Win

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There is more interest in this one than maybe would ordinarily be the case, being that Danny Garcia hasn’t looked all that thrilling in awhile.

But what makes the Garcia vs. Paul Malignaggi fight a sort of must watch, in my book, is the possibility that yes, this could be last call for Paulie.

No, not indulging in any hyping up hyberbole here– guy debuted 14 years ago, he has some mileage on him, and while his pride is fierce, the wheels ain’t what they were, and the fists, they haven’t been hammers ever, really, and less so since they broke on him six or so fights into his pro career. Really, coming off a fight in which he got manhandled pretty good, it doesn’t take a leap of logic or theorizing to think that maybe a Danny Garcia at 147 might crack like the guy who beat Amir Khan and Lucas Matthysse…which could mean Paulie might have a flashback to the night Shawn Porter whacked him around good. That leaping left hook which hurt him bad in round two, no, I don’t think Garcia closes a distance as quickly as Porter, so I don’t see him getting caught with that same launch…but the prospect of a left hook landing flush, no one close to the talkative Brooklyner wants to see it…

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Hey, don’t take my word for it, I’m not mind-reading here. This is what Paulie said at the press conference today, at BB King’s in NYC, which helped hype the Saturday PBC on ESPN card, which takes place at Barclays Center, and is being promoted by Lou DiBella.

“It’s been an emotional camp,” the 34 year said. “I find myself thrust back into the limelight of a major fight when it was least expected. The question marks and doubts come up in my mind and that’s made it emotional.”

OK, he didn’t go into much depth there…but you have to think he’s thinking about the Porter fight, the headaches afterwards, that painful pulsing which had him contemplating no mas. It was the sort of whupping which had him wondering if maybe Porter wasn’t on the up and up…

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It was the sort of situation which had him thinking, maybe I should be Paul Malignaggi, analyst, ex prizefighter.. that had to pop into his mind once or twice…

Eyes will be trained on him, his reflexes, how he reacts if Garcia’s left hook finds him flush.

Does he slip it?

Does he roll with it? Can he still be light enough on his feet to get out of harms way?

Or does it land clean, and cause a flashback?

Time will tell the tale…this could be Paulie’s last stand..or, probably, his best win as a pro.

Time will tell if the prizefighter portion of his life is at an end…or if what he said today–“Quietly but surely, I’m very confident about Saturday night. I’m bringing my best”–is the gospel.

Here is the release which went out today, with more quotes from the principals:

NEW YORK (July 30, 2015) – Premier Boxing Champions on ESPN and undercard fighters held a final press conference Thursday at B.B. Kings Blues Club & Grill in Times Square as they near their Saturday, August 1 showdowns at Barclays Center.

The event is headlined by undefeated star Danny “Swift” Garcia (30-0, 17 KOs) as he makes his 147-pound debut against two-time world champion Paulie “The Magic Man” Malignaggi (33-6, 7 KOs). Televised coverage begins at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. as middleweight world champion Daniel “The Miracle Man” Jacobs (29-1, 26 KOs) defends in his hometown against former world champion Sergio “The Latin Snake” Mora (28-3-2, 9 KOs).

Here is what the participants had to say Thursday:

DANNY GARCIA

“We had a tremendous camp, I’ve never felt so strong in my life. For the first time in my career I can actually train to get better.

“We’re just focused on training. We did everything in camp – we even chased chickens.

“I accomplished a lot at 140-pounds and I’m going to do a lot at 147. On Saturday at Barclays Center you’re going to see a spectacular Danny Garcia.

“I want to be known as a great Philadelphia fighter and a great Puerto Rican fighter. I’m the first Puerto Rican from Philly to ever be a world champion. I have the Philly skills and toughness with the Puerto Rican blood, it’s the perfect mixture.

“I’ve watched Paulie fight my whole career. He’s a tough veteran and I’m sure he’s got some tricks up his sleeve. I just have to go in there and stick to business on Saturday night.

“Barclays Center is my home away from home. We have a nice routine when we’re in Brooklyn. We keep it simple.

“I pay attention to the positive things in my career and that’s getting in the gym and working hard and getting better. That’s my main focus.

“Everything is better at 147. I feel stronger. My form feels good. The footwork is great. I can eat regularly now. Still disciplined but it’s a lot easier.”

PAULIE MALIGNAGGI

“For Danny’s team, it’s only about him and for me it’s all about myself. My best versus his best. This is a big opportunity from me, professionally and personally. My career started 14 years ago in Brooklyn and people think it’s going to end Saturday in Brooklyn, but I’m not letting that happen.

“It’s been an emotional camp. I find myself thrust back into the limelight of a major fight when it was least expected. The question marks and doubts come up in my mind and that’s made it emotional. I work hard every day. I’ve quietly had one of my best training camps

“There are no excuses here. Saturday night is the best of Paulie Malignaggi. I look forward to testing myself against the best Danny Garcia. I’ve always loved and relish the big names and the big opportunities.

“Sometimes I lay in bed at night thinking about matchups between fighters. Now I’m thinking of myself in that conversation and we’ll fin out on Saturday how I stack up.

“Quietly but surely, I’m very confident about Saturday night. I’m bringing my best.”

DANIEL JACOBS

“This is another great opportunity to showcase my skills. I’m on a good knockout streak and I feel confident about this fight.

“Sergio Mora is a Rubik’s cube, you have to figure him out. He’s crafty and I have the utmost respect for him. I’m 100 percent confident in my ability to go out there and put on a good show

“I hear Sergio is coming here to knock me out and if that’s the case this is going to be a real exciting fight. I look forward to it because I’m coming forward and if two guys are doing that it’s going to be a great fight.

“I’m excited to give these Brooklyn fans a great fight. I love being at home and seeing all of the familiar faces I’ve seen since the amateur days.”

SERGIO MORA

I’m excited to fight at Barclays Center. Brooklyn is beautiful and has great fans. Lou DiBella is about to have another fighter named Sergio as a middleweight champion after Saturday night.

“I think this is going to be a really successful fight because of all the stars up here. It’s a great event for boxing fans.

“I’m a grown man now and I’m looking to become a two-time world champion. This is my third time at a middleweight title shot but the first time an opponent showed up. I’m excited and ready to go. I’m thankful for everyone who has opened the door for me. This is it.

“Daniel is strong in the ring. He’s a powerful, confident champion. He’s not used to losing and he’s used to hitting his targets, but I’m the total opposite of that. It’s going to be tough for him.

“Until he gets in there with me and realizes how tough I am, then he’s going to realize he has a challenge coming to him. I want to take him out of his element.

“It’s a big burden to be a hometown fighter and he’s going to realize that. It’s detrimental to be fighting in your hometown and I think he’s too young to realize that. It’s going to be to my advantage on fight night.”

ANGEL GARCIA, Danny’s Father & Trainer

“Danny had a great camp. It was an awesome camp and he’s going to make a lot of noise. We’re not taking Malignaggi lightly, but we’ve come to win. We don’t come to lose.

“It’s not about Malignaggi, it’s about Danny. People can say whatever they want to say but we’re coming to make noise at 147. We’re not running from anybody.

“I promise you Danny will be the world champion at 147. I’ve seen visions of it. This is going to be a great fight and then after that anybody can get it.”

LOU DIBELLA, President of DiBella Entertainment

“I’ve known Paulie Malignaggi since he was a teenager and won the nationals in a big surprise to people. He turned pro on one of my shows and one thing I know about him, it’s that he’s not going to back down from a challenge and he’s going to give it 110 percent on Saturday.

“Danny Garcia has been a dominant force in the 140-pound division. He’s won fights by stunning knockout and he’s won by decisions. He always finds a way to win. That’s what he’s planning to do on Saturday night.

“Sergio Mora is here to challenge for another world championship. He comes in on a good streak of impressive wins. He’s always been known as a boxer and he’s been in the ring with the best fighters in the world.

“Daniel Jacobs is one of the best guys in boxing. His story of perseverance is one that has been told many times. He’s a young, strong champion looking to show that he’s got what it takes in the ring as well as outside of it.

“This is a fantastic card featuring four great fighters from Brooklyn on the undercard. We’re going to open the doors and immediately start with these great fights.

“This will be Heather Hardy’s fourth fight at Barclays Center and she will be joined on the undercard by Polish heavyweight from Brooklyn Adam Kownacki, who is looking to make some noise in the division.

“Rafael Vasquez has a truly inspirational story. He uses boxing to draw attention to the cause of autism and his wife who is battling courageously against cancer, and winning. I really want to see him get a world title shot, because his life has been a battle that he takes on with courage every day.

“We also have a terrific prospect in Prichard Colon from Puerto Rico. He’s undefeated and really an exciting guy to watch in the ring.”

BRETT YORMARK, CEO of Barclays Center

“It’s our 14th big night of boxing in Brooklyn and we’re really excited about it. It’s a business we’re committed to and one we want to grow. Our goal is to go monthly with big events at Barclays Center.

“With Paulie and Danny, it’s a big night to have them back at Barclays Center. It is the fourth time for both and they both represent Brooklyn so well.

“I want to welcome Sergio Mora for the first time and we’re excited to have you in Brooklyn.

“As we’ve told Danny Garcia before, this is his second home and we’re happy to have you and your father back.

“We’re excited to be on ESPN, because they provide an incredible platform for these fighters and the sport as a whole.

“We expect a great crowd on Saturday night and we look forward to an exciting night at Barclays Center.”

For more information visit www.premierboxingchampions.com, www.barclayscenter.com and www.dbe1.com. Follow on Twitter @PremierBoxing, @DannySwift, @PaulMalignaggi, @LouDiBella, @ESPNBoxing, @BarclaysCenter and @Swanson_Comm and become a fan on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/PremierBoxingChampions, www.facebook.com/fanpagedannyswiftgarcia, www.facebook.com/PaulMalignaggi, www.facebook.com/barclayscenterand www.facebook.com/ESPN. Follow the conversation using #PBConESPN and #BrooklynBoxing.

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Is There a “Peck’s Bad Boy” in Boxing Today?

Ted Sares

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Henry “Hennery” Peck, popularly known as Peck’s Bad Boy, is a fictional character created by George Wilbur Peck (1840–1916). “Peck’s Bad Boy” has been defined as one whose bad behavior is a source of embarrassment or annoyance, but to many it refers to a mischievous prankster. The answer probably is somewhere in the middle with the label referring to anyone whose mischievous or bad behavior leads to annoyance or embarrassment.

In boxing, no one seemed to better epitomize the expression than Muhammad Ali. When Howard Cosell asked Ali why he was being truculent during an interview. Ali fired back, “I don’t know what truculent means, but if it’s good, I’m that.”

It was high camp and anyone who took Ali or his perceived arrogance seriously missed the tongue-in-cheek quality of what was going on. To this writer, he was 98 percent mischievous and maybe 2 percent annoying.

“…“Floyd Patterson was dull, quiet, and sad … and Sonny Liston was twice as bad… The fight game was dying… promoters were crying…” — Cassius Clay

I said I was ‘The Greatest,’ I never said I was the smartest! — Muhammad Ali

Ricardo Mayorga

Later, an especially nasty Nicaraguan provocateur came along by the name of Ricardo “The Matador” Mayorga, but the nastiness was more pre-fight hype than anything else and after his fights, he could be seen hugging his opponents. Often he was seen smoking a cigarette and drinking a beer before leaving the ring and that in itself was pretty unique. He soon established an infamous reputation and used this to sell tickets. Mayorga won world titles at welterweight and junior middleweight, playing the villain to Shane Mosley, Felix Trinidad, Oscar De La Hoya, Fernando Vargas, and Miguel Cotto, among others.

Despite being savaged by Trinidad, Ricardo showed that he was not lacking in heart. Against De La Hoya, he said, “I hate bitches and I’m going to make you my little bitch…” He was again savaged.

He caused a stir when he slapped Shane Mosley’s girlfriend on the butt at a press conference, triggering turmoil. In the fight, Mosley avenged her butt by sending The Matador to Bullfighter Heaven with a beautiful left hook launched after a slight head fake to the right.

He told Cory Spinks, “I want to sew a pair of nuts on you so you can stand and fight in front of me next time like a man.”

As writer Jimmy Tobin put it: “Sure, he [Mayorga] was upset at the Spinks decision, but Mayorga understood public expectations of him and had to push the envelope to ensure expectations were met. However enraged he might appear, the vitriol felt fabricated, rehearsed, a gimmick. That gimmick would soon be all Mayorga had left.”

And that really says it all about the Matador. Manufactured and well-timed outrage and faux insults. No serious fan ever really bought into it. Mischievous? Hype? Absolutely.

Mayorga was good at running his mouth but he was no Peck’s Bad Boy.

Today we wish him well as he struggles with substance abuse issues.

Tyson Fury

“I haven’t seen a fighter with that much charisma since Muhammad Ali”– Bob Arum

There is at least two Tyson Furys. The first one possessed a classic Irish wit and was rarely lost for words, constantly seeking attention including impromptu singing. However, keen observers sensed he was putting everybody on half the time, and it was all a joke with him.

Heavyweight boxing hadn’t had this type in a long time—not since Ali. Heck, the Gypsy King was a showman. Many thought his temperament might be a big problem and that he should be more self-deprecating, but he couldn’t care less what others thought about him. All the rhetoric and loud mouthing was likely a load of blarney and he knew it better than anyone. While he surely could have taken himself more seriously and embraced humility, that simply wasn’t what the early Fury was all about.

Fury was more like a Peck’s Bad Boy than anyone since Ali. But much of what he said along the way was embarrassing and vicious. He denounced homosexuals and Jews, among others. This was hardly viewed as amusing, but perhaps it was a byproduct of fighting a number of different demons including severe weight gain, substance abuse, and mental health issues.

After reaching the heights, he stumbled badly off the stage. However, he made a remarkable comeback and this time around he was clean and sober and showed a great desire to help his fellow man.

“I said some things which may have hurt some people, which as a Christian man is not something I would ever want to do,” Fury said in a May 2016 interview for the BBC. “Though it is not an excuse, sometimes the heightened media scrutiny has caused me to act out in public and then my words can get taken out of context. I mean no harm or disrespect to anyone and I know more is expected of me as an ambassador of British boxing and I promise in future to hold myself up to the highest possible standard.”

The 6’9” giant is currently an ambassador for the Frank Bruno Foundation, a mental health charity.

Interestingly, the title to Fury’s autobiography is “Behind the Mask and that suggests that the current Fury is the real Fury.

He has been called the UK’s answer to Ricardo Mayorga. Maybe in terms of early nastiness, but the current Tyson Fury (Batman suit and all) is more Ali than Mayorga.

Adrien Broner

“I came into town, and I got his belt and his girl.” – Adrien Broner referring to Paulie Malignaggi

A few might argue that Adrien Broner is the quintessential Peck’s Bad Boy, but frankly, “The Problem” has never really appeared amusing or mischievous. Yes, he has some substance in the ring, but Broner has in large part been seen as a hyped gimmick projecting ignorance, a man that can’t back up his foul mouth. He has now become a curiosity as fans speculate as to who will finally knock him out and shut him up.

Aside from a stupid hair combing routine before his fights, nothing Adrien does seems to conjure up even a shred of amusement. Au contraire, his boorish antics outside the ring, such as throwing cash down a toilet and performing a sexual act with a sweaty dancer at a strip club, not to mention his frequent brushes with the law and court appearances, suggest the possibility of a self-destructive bent

The “Problem” will not be solved; it’s a story that likely will not have a happy ending.

Today

Fury fits the bill but he has become more temperate and balanced. Still, he remains a promotor’s dream. Enjoy him while you can.

Can you think of any others in today’s scene? Yesterday’s?

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Boxing Odds and Ends: The Debacle in Atlanta, Fedosov’s Big Upset and More

Arne K. Lang

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Last night’s “Triller” pay-per-view from Atlanta provided a wealth of material for Sunday Morning Quarterbacks. Overshadowing the actual fights was the performance, as it were, of Oscar De La Hoya.

De La Hoya joined the telecast for the 6-round bout between 39-fight veteran Steve Cunningham and boxing novice Frank Mir. Oscar was conspicuously sloshed; he was a train wreck.

Some thought that Oscar’s screeching was hilarious, the highlight of the show. Others found it hard to watch. “I don’t find humor in a man battling substance abuse,” said a person in response to the snarky comments appearing on the message board of a rival web site.

De La Hoya, 48, reiterated that he will return to the ring in July. He has targeted the date of July 3. Oscar was just a boy when he first stepped into the ring. He had more than 200 amateur fights before turning pro. Boxers that take too many punches, say the experts, are prone to developing conditions beyond what are apparent to the naked eye. A common symptom is poor choices.

—-

Also catching flack for his commentary was boxing sportscaster Ray Flores. His transgression was trying too hard to be cool. Flores, 34, was at Wembley Stadium in London in 2017, moderating the final leg of the pre-fight promotional tour for the Mayweather-McGregor megafight. He called that experience his personal Super Bowl. One wonders where he will rate last night’s sideshow in Atlanta?

Lance Pugmire, who left the LA Times to join the impressive team of writers at The Athletic, was measured in his criticism, faulting the telecast for “scattered commentary and forced swearing.” Pugmire was being diplomatic. He wasn’t about to come down hard on Triller as his friend and colleague Mike Coppinger was part of the broadcasting crew.

The only legitimate fight on the card (no disrespect to the combatants in the two early prelims) matched former WBA/IBF 140-pound world champion Regis Prograis against Ivan Redkach. From Los Angeles by way of the Ukraine, Redkach, who brought a 23-5-1 record, wasn’t expected to win but he was expected to at least make it interesting, as had been the case in his most recent bout, a 12-rounder with Danny Garcia.

Prograis was dominant from the start. The bout ended in the sixth frame after Redkach absorbed a sweeping right hook to the body and fell to the canvas clutching his groin. After initially starting his count, the referee gave Redkach, who was writhing in pain, or an imitation thereof, the benefit of the doubt and allowed him five minutes to recover. A doctor was called into the ring to examine him, he decided that Redkach was unfit to continue, and the boxer was removed the ring on a stretcher. There has been no update on his condition.

The replays showed that the punch was legal, clearly landing above the beltline. Moreover, it did not appear that the blow arrived with any significant force. Redkach was lambasted on social media on the grounds that he was faking it, thereby robbing the victorious Prograis of adding another KO to his record. There have been cries for the Georgia Commission to withhold Redkach’s purse.

We have seen boxers greatly distressed after taking a punch in the solar plexus region that did not appear to be a particularly hard punch. Micky Ward’s “electrocution” of Alfonso Sanchez comes quickly to mind. So, perhaps we should give Redkach the benefit of the doubt. However, this reporter couldn’t help but laugh when a blogger explained away the mysterious happenstance by writing that during the heat of battle, the unfortunate Redkach caught a hernia.

There was a huge upset on the Andrade-Williams card in Florida when Azerbaijan heavyweight Mahammadrasul Majidov was stopped in the opening round by Andrey Fedosov.

Majidov had only three pro fights under his belt, but he won all three inside the distance against opponents with winning records and before turning pro he had a long and productive amateur career highlighted by a win over Anthony Joshua.

The contest wasn’t quite a minute old when Fedosov nailed Majidov with a hard combination that put him on the deck. Majidov landed awkwardly and twisted or broke his right ankle. He beat the count, but was reduced to a one-legged fighter and when Fedorov put him down again, the ref moved in and stopped it.

It was all over in 84 seconds, but this was no fluke knockout. It’s uncertain whether Majidov could have survived if he hadn’t injured his ankle. Fedosov, a 35-year-old Russian, has an excellent record, now 32-3 (26), but had become the forgotten man in the heavyweight division after sitting out all of 2019 and 2020.

There have been a lot of upsets lately and there were two more on Saturday. Light-hitting James Martin (7-2, 0 KOs), saddled 18-year-old phenom Vito Mielnicki Jr with his first pro loss, winning a well-deserved majority decision in an 8-round junior middleweight contest underneath Harrison-Perrella in LA. Mielnicki entered the bout with an 8-0 record.

On the Matchroom show in Florida, in another 8-rounder, lightweight Jorge Castaneda scored an upset over former U.S. amateur standout Otha Jones III, winning a majority decision. Castaneda brought a 13-1 record, but all of his previous fights save for one  trip to Mexico were held in his hometown of  Laredo, Texas.

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Harrison and Perrella Fight to a Draw in LA: Prograis TD6 Redkach in Atlanta

Arne K. Lang

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On a day replete with upsets, Florida southpaw Bryant Perrella almost pulled off another, but at the end had to settle for a draw with former WBC 154-pound title holder Tony Harrison. The match was the headline attraction of a PBC show at the Shrine Auditorium and Expo Center in Los Angeles.

Perrella (17-3-1) was moving up from welterweight and making his first start for new trainer Roy Jones Jr.  Harrison (28-3-1), a third-generation boxer from Detroit, was making his first start since the death of his father/trainer Ali Salaam at age 59. Both boxers were coming off a loss. The first man to defeat Jermell Charlo, Harrison lost the rematch. In Perrella’s last fight, he was stopped with one second to go in the 10th and final round by Abel Ramos in a fight that he was winning.

Harrison fought a measured fight, but fought without a sense of urgency. Perrella fought mostly off his back foot, but was somewhat busier. The scores were 117-111 Perrella, 116-112 Harrison, and `114-114.

Other Bouts

In a cruiserweight fight that was competitive only on paper, previously undefeated Deon Nicholson had no answer for Efetobar Apochi who blew him away in a fight that was over at the 1:12 mark of round three. Nicholson was down in the waning moments of the second round and knocked down again in the third before the referee rescued him from further punishment.

The 33-year-old Apochi, who captained the Nigerian National Boxing Team before moving to Houston where is trained by Ronnie Shields, improved to 11-0 with his 11th knockout. Nicholson, from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, came in undefeated with`13 knockouts in 14 opportunities, nine coming in the opening round. but his record was fashioned against very soft opposition. The victory boosts Apochi into a match with Arsen Goulamarian who holds a version of the WBA cruiserweight title.

Omar Juarez, a 21-year-old super bantamweight from Brownsville, Texas, improved to 11-0 (5) with a 10-round unanimous decision over Elias Damian Araujo (21-3), a 33-year-old Argentine now residing in Fresno. The scores were 98-92 and 99-91 twice.

In an upset, Philadelphia’s James Martin scored a majority decision over Vito “White Magic” Mielnicki Jr in an 8-round super welterweight contest. The scores were 79-73, 77-75, and 76-76.

Martin, who improved to 7-2, is the son of former light heavyweight contender Jerry Martin. It was the first pro loss for hot prospect Mielnicki, age 18, who entered the contest with an 8-0 record.

Atlanta

In the first noteworthy boxing match ever staged at Atlanta’s NFL Stadium, former WBA/WBC 140-pound champion Regis “Rougarou” Prograis (26-1, 22 KOs) was awarded a technical decision over Ivan Redkach (25-6-1) who collapsed in the sixth round complaining of a low blow and was carted from the ring on a stretcher. Replays showed that it was clearly a legal punch. The fight went to the scorecards and Prograis won comfortably: 59-54 and 60-54 twice.

The bizarre ending was somehow fitting as the entire event was bizarre, not merely the fights but the camera work and the commentary. The word sophomoric comes to mind. For the record, in the main go Jake Paul stopped Ben Askren in the opening round.

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