RingTV.com caught up to former IBF junior welterweight beltholder Paulie Malignaggi, who will try to continue his winning ways against Orlando Lora on the Bernard Hopkins-Chad Dawson undercard Oct. 15 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
The clash of 30-year-olds between Malignaggi (29-4, 6 knockouts) and Lora (28-1-1, 19 KOs) will be the first televised bout of the HBO Pay Per View card.
“I’m excited to be fighting in Los Angeles for the first time in my career. I have been training for the past year in Los Angeles,” said Malignaggi, a native of Brooklyn, New York.
“I’m really looking forward to performing in front of my new friends out West as well as my support system I have coming from the East Coast. New York meets Los Angeles, I can’t wait to shine.”
While Malignaggi is coming off a 10-round unanimous decision over Jose Miguel Cotto (32-3-1, 24 KOs), whom he routed by scores of 99-91, 99-91 and 97-93, Lora never has fought beyond eight rounds, and is in search of his third straight win since being stopped by David Estrada in April of last year.
“I’m ready for anything Malignaggi will bring to Los Angeles for this fight: his speed, his experience and his talk,” said Lora. “I expect to walk through his punches, punish him and finish him.”
After signing with Golden Boy Promotions as a junior welterweight and moving from the East Coast to the West Coast for his training, Malignaggi debuted as a welterweight with a sixth-round knockout over Michael Lozada (38-9-1, 30 KOs) in December of last year.
The stoppage was Malignaggi’s first since knocking out Anthony Simpkins in the second round of his 10th professional fight in August of 2002. Malignaggi, who made his professional debut in July of 2001, began his career at 3-0 after scoring knockouts in the first, fourth, and, third rounds, respectively.
The win over Lozada helped Malignaggi to rebound from an 11th-round knockout loss to WBA junior welterweight champion Amir Khan (26-1, 18 KOs) suffered in May of last year.
The Lora fight represents Malignaggi’s third straight fight as a welterweight. He is hoping to build momentum toward a title shot in a division whose beltholders are Manny Pacquiao, Vyacheslav Senchenko, Andre Berto and Floyd Mayweather Jr., of the WBO, WBA, IBF and WBC, respectively.
In addition, Malignaggi hopes to be included in a welterweight tournament that is being explored by Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer. Other names mentioned include former WBC and IBF junior welterweight titleholder Devon Alexander (22-1, 13 KOs), Lucas Matthysse (28-2, 26 KOs), Marcos Maidana (31-2, 28 KOs) and five-belt, three-division titlewinner Robert Guerrero (29-1-1, 18 KOs).
Below, Malignaggi addresses the move to welterweight and an ongoing internet feud with Alexander, among other things.
Paulie Malignaggi on why he rose to 147:
“It’s a division that could really create a spark if you know what I’m saying. There are a lot of name fighters who have worked hard to create their reputations, myself included.
“It’s exciting just be a part of the welterweight division, because you’re always a win away from being in that circle and being involved in a big fight. Obviously, it’s something to look forward to.”
On his internet war with Alexander:
“Here’s the thing, I remember that it started when he did a little video thing with Elie Seckbach last year after I had just lost to Amir Khan. Elie did a word-association game, and Devon called me a bum.
“I was like, ‘This a–hole.’ I was like, ‘S–t, man, this f–king a–hole.’ I mean, I had nothing against him at the time. I wasn’t even in the weight class anymore.
“He was still at 140, and I was making the move up to 147. I’m not talking about guys that I compete against, because I want all guys to make money.
“But I wouldn’t have said some s–t like that. I was like, ‘Damn, did he really just call me a bum during a word-association?’
“But he was kicking me when I was down, because I had just lost to Amir Khan. So my cousin was like ‘Yo, dog, this guy is dogging you out on Twitter.’
“But, you know, I’m getting ready for an undercard fight on the Bernard Hopkins-Jean Pascal I card, and Devon was getting ready for Tim Bradley.
“So I thought that it wasn’t a good time to blast him at the time, so I said I’m going to wait. I said that I had to pick my spot, and the next time that I got the opportunity to blast him, I was going to blast him.
“I let it slide. But man, when the Bradley fight came bout and it ended the way that it did, I was like, ‘You know what, this is my moment.’
“So I went at him. I had that ace up my sleeve, and I was just waiting for the right opportunity to go after him. I was waiting for the hand to play the card.
“So when he came out and called me a bum, he did me a favor. And when I did what I did, he played the same role that I played and he didn’t say anything back.
“He understood that he couldn’t say anything. But then, after his win over Lucas Matthysse, I saw on the internet that his manager, Kevin Cunningham, was calling me out to fight him.
“So who knew that back when he called me a bum, that it might end up getting us paid. So in a way, we sort of did each other a favor. So I think that’s a fight that interests the public, contrary to what some people think.”
On how he would do against Alexander:
“Stylistically, we’re both boxers. I will tell you that I’ve never lost to a southpaw in my life. I’ve always beaten them, but I’ve beaten every southpaw that I’ve fought.
“He’s shorter than me, and any time I box somebody who is shorter than me, they’re always at a disadvantage. He doesn’t have the balls to come and to make it a fight with me.
“He didn’t step up when he needed to against [Andriy] Kotelnik, Tim Bradley and Lucas Matthysse with the fight hanging in the balance, so I don’t think that Devon has the balls to take any chances with me.”
On his name recognition:
“Maybe my name will begin to get swirled around as somebody these younger guys want to fight. Even Devon Alexander wants a name fighter like me on his record.
“We sort of work off of each other. You need to make these fights and you need to keep the public interested and wondering all of the time if there is going to be a guy who wants to fight me.
“You don’t have to be a fan of mine to want to see me, but if I’m on your mind, that’s good enough for me. That means that maybe you’re going to want to watch me.”
On impending retirement:
“I fought Amir Khan toward the end of my tenure at 140 pounds, and, to tell you the truth, it’s probably close to being the end of my career, to be honest with you. At 140, I can’t make the weight any longer.
“I don’t enjoy this enough to be around much longer. I like the competing and I know that I will miss the competing aspect of it. But, you know, you can’t fight forever, you know what I’m saying?
“Sometimes, it’s even a chore to wind into shape sometimes. But I still do it, because the competitor in me still burns. Maybe if some of these big fights start to come my way, then I will still be into it.
“That’s why I signed with Golden Boy, which puts me into a position to get right back into position to get the big fights.
“It was a decision that I’m very happy that I made, and I look forward to it hopefully putting me into a position where I’m in a big fight.”
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com