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Q&A: Malignaggi can't wait for Barclays Center debut
Paulie Malignaggi: "When you're someone like me, and you're fighting out of Brooklyn, the only reason you dream of fighting out of Madison Square Garden is because there was never something like the Barclays Arena in Brooklyn to keep dreaming about."
WBA titleholder Paulie Malignaggi will make the first defense of his belt against Mexico City's Pablo Cesar Cano at the The Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Oct. 20, seeking his fifth straight win since rising to welterweight.
Taking place during the grand opening weekend of The Barclays Center, the fight represents a return to New York and a shot at redemption before hometown fans for Malignaggi (31-4, 7 KOs). He'll meet a rugged challenger in Cano (25-1-1, 19 KOs) when they clash on the undercard of a Showtime-televised rematch between RING, WBA and WBC junior welterweight champ Danny Garcia (24-0, 15 knockouts), of Philadelphia, and four-division titlewinner Erik Morales (52-8, 36 KOs), of Mexico City.
Malignaggi, who turns 32 in November, has not lost since falling by 11th-round knockout to Amir Khan (26-3, 18 KOs) as a junior welterweight at New York's Madison Square Garden in May of 2010.
In his last fight, Malignaggi dethroned a physically bigger, taller, harder puncher in Vyacheslav Senchenko (32-1, 21 KOs) before Senchenko's hometown fans in Donetsk, Ukraine, by ninth-round technical knockout.
Cano, who turns 23 on Oct. 4, has won three straight fights -- two of them by knockout -- since, himself, being stopped by Morales in the 10th round of his junior welterweight debut in September. On July 21, Cano earned the WBA's interim 140-pound belt with a seventh-round majority decision over previously unbeaten Johan Perez (15-1-1, 12 KOs).
Malignaggi spoke to RingTV.com from his training camp at Freddie Roach's Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, Calif.
RingTV.com: So you just left the Wild Card?
Right now, I'm just concerning myself more with getting sharp. I'm starting to develop a gameplan for the fight with my trainer, Eric Brown. I'm just getting myself into a rhythm, stuff like that. I'm doing all of the basics, definitely.
It's almost surreal. I mean, this is the arena where fighters from Brooklyn and contenders from Brooklyn are going to dream of performing when they can, and the fact that I get to be on the first card, the first show and the first boxing event feels good. I would have never dreamed of this possibility to defend the world title in Brooklyn, but here it is, and it's coming true.
I would love to have that be a possibility, you know? I know that Golden Boy is a very, very strong promoter, and I think that they could give me that push. I think that I sell once people actually know that I'm fighting. That was my problem earlier in my career.
I'm not trying to bad mouth anybody, but a lot of times, I would be fighting and a lot of people didn't know that I was fighting. They wouldn't come to the fights because they didn't even know that the fight was even happening. But I think that with Golden Boy behind me, I may be in the position for the possibility to end my career at Barclays Center.
I think that there are a lot of possibilities where I can look to fulfill a lot of personal dreams and goals and stuff like that in the process. So I have my fingers crossed, man, and that would be really great for me.
It depends on a few things -- whether I'm winning or not, the type of opponents there are. The money I'm making. A lot of factors would go into that. But overall, the broad answer would be two or three more years.
RingTV.com: What would be your dream fight beyond Cano?
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Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com