Not only is Brooklyn native Paulie Malignaggi facing a man who is physically bigger, taller, has more power and has a Hall of Fame trainer, but he’s also doing so on foreign soil in front of his adversary’s hometown fans.
But the former IBF junior welterweight beltholder believes that he will overcome the odds and defeat WBA welterweight titleholder Vyacheslav Senchenko (32-0, 21 knockouts) on Sunday at at Donbass Arena in Donetsk, Ukraine.
“I’m ready for this fight. I’ve got my team in my corner,” said the 5-foot-8 Malignaggi (30-4, 6 KOs), who will face the 5-foot-10, Senchenko on an Integrated Sports Media per-per-view event. “We could hold this fight in Senchenko’s living room and I would still come out with the win.”
Trained by Freddie Roach, who handles stars like Manny Pacquiao, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Amir Khan, Senchenko has spent the majority of his career fighting at 147 pounds, even once scoring a first-round knockout while weighing 150.
Nicknamed “The Magic Man,” Malignaggi, meanwhile, is in only his fourth fight as a welterweight after having campaigned most of his career at 140.
But Malignaggi is coming off a one-sided 10-round unanimous decision over Orlando Lora last October — his third straight welterweight victory since being stopped in the 11th round by Khan as a junior welterweight in May of 2010.
Malignaggi may have an advantage in age — he’s 31 while Senchenko turned 35 on April 12 — and big fight experience. Two of Malignaggi’s career losses were against Miguel Cotto by decision in 2006, and Ricky Hatton by 11th-round knockout in 2008.
Malignaggi rectified a controversial unanimous decision loss to Juan Diaz in the latter’s hometown of Houston in August of 2009 by avenging it the same way in Chicago later that year.
“This is my time,” said Malignaggi, who sounded equally confident during an earlier interview with RingTV.com. “I will be returning to the United States a world champion again.”
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com