Smoger was the third man in the ring in December when Miguel Cotto stopped Antonio Margarito in the 10th round for a successful defense of his WBC junior middleweight belt. Cotto-Margarito ended somewhat controversially, with ringside doctors advising Smoger, against his desires, to wave an end to the bout as a result of Margarito’s swollen and badly closed right eye.
Even when the area around the right eye of junior middleweight Pawel Wolak became swollen to the size of a softball during his 10-round, majority draw with Delvin Rodriguez in July of last year, Smoger – recognizing Wolak’s bravery — allowed the fight to continue to its conclusion.
Smoger also worked the 12th-round knockout victory over Felix Trinidad by Bernard Hopkins in 2001, which ended when Trinidad’s father and trainer threw in the towel, as well as Vernon Forrest’s unanimous decision over Shane Mosley in 2002, after three first-round knockdowns.
Smoger was again in the ring when Kelly Pavlik dethroned Jermain Taylor as WBC and WBO middleweight beltholder by seventh-round knockout in 2007. Taylor was slumped in the corner on his butt and declared “out cold” by Smoger after having been nailed by several hard left hooks from Pavlik, who trailed on all three scorecards at the time of the stoppage.
Smoger fell under some criticism for his delayed reaction to stop the fight between cruiserweights Denis Lebedev and Roy Jones Jr., who lay unconcious on the canvas for several seconds after being knocked out.
Jones already was badly hurt and doubled over in a corner of the ring with his hands down near his waist when Smoger — standing back from the action — allowed Lebev to uncork a vicious left hook that caused Jones to pitch forward, face-first.
“I could tell Senchenko didn’t want to fight any more,” said Malignaggi. “Since about round seven, it was like his corner had to push him out there. I hit him with a shot in the ninth round, and he looked at Steve Smoger like, ‘dude, can you please stop this?’”
“I threw a followup combination and that’s when Steve Smoger went to stop it. He saw that Sencheko didn’t want to fight. I appreciate that that he doesn’t want to stop figthts because I’m a guy who doesn’t want fights to be stopped. But when the fighter doesn’t want to fight, the referee has to do his job and rescue him. Senchenko, the look he gave Steve, he was like, ‘stop the fight, I can’t see.’”
WHAT’S NEXT FOR MALIGNAGGI
Malignaggi’s performance was 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 think my goal is to open the Barclays Center in the fall. That’s going to be awesome. I’m sure that we’ll get the right opponent,” said Malignaggi. “I don’t want to jump to conclusions and say that I want to fight this guy or that guy.”
Schaefer said the Barclays Center is an option, having targeted a grand opening for Oct. 20 with Malignaggi the likely main event.
“Paulie’s coming home to the United States and home to Brooklyn, New York, with the WBA world championship belt, so we want to put together a big card there, and I think Paulie defending his title is something we’re going to discuss with him,” said Schaefer.
Among the many opponents promoted by Golden Boy Promotions is former IBF/WBC junior welterweight titleholder, Devon Alexander (23-1, 13 KOs), who is coming off February’s one-sided victory over over Marcos Maidana.
“Most of the big names at 147 and, for that matter, 140 are with Golden Boy, so we’re not going to see any shortage of potential names,” said Schaefer. “One of those names could very well be Devon Alexander, but I am not going to discuss who and so on. First of all, Paulie needs to enjoy his victory and needs to enjoy that world title.”
SHOWTIME HAS AN AUG. 18 DATE
Nicknamed, “The Great,” Alexander and Malignaggi have engaged in an internet rivalry in the past. Malignaggi, for example, wore a T-shirt with the words “Devon is my bitch” into the ring prior to his victory over Lora.
“Devon Alexander looked awesome in his last fight. All of the critisizms that I had given Devon, I thought that he deserved it, but I’ll give credit where credit is due, and I thought Devon looked phenomenal in that fight with Maidana,” said Malignaggi.
“So Devon’s obviously in the mix. But there’s a lot of good names out there in the welterweight division, so as far a picking names, I have an abundance of options. There are too many guys to think about when I just fought a few hours ago.”
Alexander’s trainer, Kevin Cunningham, wants Malignaggi
“I thought Paulie looked great,” said Cunningham. “So it’s time for a date with Alexander The Great.”
Photy by Integrated Sports
Photo by Chris Farina, Top Rank
Photo by Tom Hogan, Hogan Photos, Golden Boy Promotions
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org