Former IBF junior welterweight titleholder Paulie Malignaggi told RingTV.com on Wednesday that he is close to accepting a clash with WBA welterweight beltholder Vyacheslav Senchenko on April 29 in the titleholder’s native Ukraine.
Malignaggi said that his decision came as a result of being turned down by Robert Guerrero, a bout proposal by Golden Boy Promotions that would have landed on the undercard of a pay-per-view show featuring Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Floyd Mayweather Jr.
“We resumed talks again yesterday, and we seem to agree on most things with the exception of a few small details, which I expect will not be a problem,” said Malignaggi.
“So I think that we’re pretty close to it and I’m getting signs that it’s going to happen. With Guerrero turning me down, I can’t turn down Senchenko or nothing else is going to be there for me.”
Malignaggi’s move is also driven by the fact that he wants to be a headliner at the Barclays Center, a state-of-the-art arena that is under construction in his native Brooklyn, N.Y.
“I want to have the satisfaction of headlining in Brooklyn in front of my fans and in front of my people, and the only way that I can do that is to get a key win … and Senchenko is that key win,” said Malignaggi.
European promoter Union Boxing won the purse bid and the right to host Senchenko’s defense against Malignaggi at Donbass Arena in Donetsk, Ukraine, where Senchenko (32-0, 21 knockouts) scored his last victory, a sixth-round knockout over Marco Antonio Avendano last August.
“I’m not going to get what I want, but if I get some sort of bending on their part, then I’ll probably take it at this point, you know? It’s a tough situation to go into another guy’s country and fight him, but it’s also a world title fight,” said Malignaggi, who is 31.
“It presents me with an opportunity to get a key win before the fall, and to maybe headline in Barclays Center. That’s what I want to do, you know. Barclays Center is going to be the centerpiece under Golden Boy, and I want to be there. That’s perfect for me, and I wish I was 10 years younger.”
Nicknamed “The Magic Man,” Malignaggi (30-4, 6 KOs) is coming off a one-sided 10-round unanimous decision over Orlando Lora on Oct. 1 that was his third straight welterweight victory since being stopped in the 11th round by Amir Khan as a junior welterweight in May of last year.
Malignaggi knows that he will be up against it in the Ukraine against Senchenko.
“I think that I’ll have to be very busy and to have an approach where I know that I’m fighting away from home. I have to get in that ring and tell myself, ‘I want to be a world champion.’ I still have the tools and I still have the skills to do this. I might have to do a little more,” said Malignaggi.
“Physically, I have the ability and I have the mental capacity and the confidence to do it in front of his crowd in that situation. I have to expect that anything is possible and I’m fighting that country’s home fighter. I have to be mentally focused no matter what. I’m going to get myself mentally and physically ready in the gym with Eric Brown, my trainer.”
Photo by Tom Hogan, Hogan Photos, Golden Boy Promotions
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org