Bob Arum said Julio Cesar Chavez could fight Brian Vera next, and eventually, Andre Ward.
Malignaggi rises off the deck to take split nod over Cano
Fighting just minutes away from his home neighborhood at Barclays Center, Malignaggi found himself on the canvas in round 11...
BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- Fighting in front of your hometown can be just as much a detriment as an advantage sometimes. Just ask Evander Holyfield, who, in the second defense of his heavyweight title back in 1991, found himself nearly out at the hands of journeyman Bert Cooper in his backyard of Atlanta.
WBA welterweight titleholder Paul Malignaggi now knows the feeling, too.
Fighting just minutes away from his home neighborhood at Barclays Center, Malignaggi found himself on the canvas in round 11, the product of a Pablo Cesar Cano right cross. Malignaggi rose up, but the impact hammered home the message that there are no "routine" fights at this level of boxing.
Malignaggi recovered enough to make it out of the round, and the final one afterwards as well. There was considerable drama as all parties awaited the scorecards, which inevitably turned in a split-decision verdict to Malignaggi. The two tallies of 114-113 awarded Malignaggi the victory, while the third judge had it 118-109 in the other direction. The belt, which Malignaggi won in his previous outing with a ninth round technical knockout of Vyacheslav Senchenko, was not on the line for Cano, who had missed the weight by 1.4 pounds.
The fight started out as well as Malignaggi (32-4, 7 knockouts) could've hoped, as his quick combinations opened up a cut on the left eyelid of the now 25-2-1 (19 KOs) Cano of Los Mochis, Mexico, in round two. Malignaggi continued to box well, landing his signature jab to the head and body, but as the rounds progressed, Cano began to find the timing on Malignaggi's jab, placing right crosses over the top that began to erode Malignaggi's composure.
Malignaggi continued to implement his strategy of jabbing and flurrying, undeterred by the increasing frequency of Cano's counters.
"He's a warrior. He came with a lot of power," said Malignaggi. "I don't know what the one scorecard was all about [118-109.] I thought I controlled the whole fight. He'll be a champion one day, just not tonight. He was stronger than I thought he would be. This means the world to me. I was born only five miles from here. This is an incredible feeling."
In many ways, this fight mirrored the first defense of Malignaggi's 140-pound title in 2008, when he struggled mightily to overcome Herman Ngoudjo. Still, the victory opens up the possibility for Malignaggi to meet Ricky Hatton, should Hatton overcome Senchenko next month in his first bout in over three years. In their first meeting, Hatton stopped Malignaggi in 11 rounds in 2008.
The two had exchanged tweets in recent weeks in attempts to drum up interest for the return bout. Malignaggi stated that he wanted Hatton next in the post-fight interview with Showtime.
Cano, whose only previous loss was to Erik Morales by TKO in a fight marred by cuts last year, felt the positive reaction he got from the crowd spoke louder than the scorecards.
"I know I won the fight, listen to the crowd," said Cano. "Even Paulie told me I'm a true Mexican warrior."
Photos by Alex Trautwig, Al Bello-Gettyimages