BROOKLYN — WBA welterweight titleholder Paulie Malignaggi expressed a range of sentiment and emotions during the post-fight press conference following Saturday night’s Showtime-televised split-decision victory over Mexico City’s Pablo Cesar Cano at Barclays Center in his native Brooklyn.
Malignaggi (32-4, 7 knockouts) won the fight, 114-113 on the cards of judges Nelson Vasquez and Tom Muller, but lost, 118-109, to Cano (25-2-1, 19 KOs) on that of Glenn Feldman, whom Malignaggi claims was influenced by a vocal contingent near Feldman which favored Cano.
The victory was Malignaggi’s fifth straight as a welterweight during a run that has included two stoppage wins, having last suffered defeat by 11th-round knockout to Amir Khan as a junior welterweight at New York’s Madison Square Garden in May of 2010.
Malignaggi, 32, doubted the CompuBox numbers attributed to Cano, who out-landed Malignaggi, 262-to-217, in overall punches, and, 165-to-57 in power blows. Cano also scored an 11th-round knockdown against Malignaggi, who had the advantage in landed jabs, 160-to-97.
Malignaggi credited the counsel of California-based trainer Eric Brown, who also worked the corner of unbeaten middleweight Peter Quillin during Saturday night’s unanimous decision win over that dethroned WBO 160-pound titleholder Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam, whom Quillin dropped six times.
Known for working out of Freddie Roach’s Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, Calif., Brown should be a candidate for Trainer of The Year, according to Malignaggi.
In April, Brown guided Malignaggi to a ninth-round stoppage on the home turf of Ukrainian Vyacheslav Senchenko, who was bigger, taller and boasted more power and who had worked, at times, with Roach.
Malignaggi said he was “disappointed” that his belt was not only the line against Cano, who failed to qualify for the 147-pound limit at Friday’s weigh-in.
After having fought as a lightweight and junior welterweight in the past, Cano, 23, weighed 147.8 on his final try after having been granted two hours to lose weight from his initial mark of 148.4.
Cano re-weighed in at 155 on Saturday morning, below a required maximum of 157. Malignaggi weighed 146.2 for his clash with Cano, which was part of a nine-fight undercard to the rematch during which RING, WBA and WBC junior welterweight champ Danny Garcia scored a fourth-round knockout over four-division title-winner Erik Morales.
Cano was penalized for the weight infraction, as Malignaggi received $50,000 of Cano’s $150,000 purse in addition to his initial $350,000 thanks to a deal worked out between the two camps.
Malignaggi also shared his thoughts about the presence of referee Steve Smoger, a tough-minded, no-nonsense official in his 172nd world title fight who also worked Malignaggi’s loss to Khan, his victory over Senchenko, as well as his unanimous decision loss to Miguel Cotto in June of 2006.
Below are some of Malignaggi’s assertions on various subjects.
Paulie Malignaggi on the meaning of the Barclays Center atmosphere and the significance of fighting in Brooklyn:
“This was a dream come true to fight in Brooklyn, a few miles from where I was born, and the hospital where I was born, and tonight’s a special night. An emotional night for a lot of reasons.”
“The Compubox, I think that they gave him every body shot, but his left hooks to the body, a lot of them landed on or were blocked by my arms. I think when the guys press the CompuBox, anything to the body scores or is a punch landed.
“But when he punches to the head, and it’s on the gloves, they don’t count it, but when you punch to the body, even if it’s on the arms, it gets counted every time. I did not get hit with that many power shots. I did get hit with a few right hands for a few rounds, and he did time it pretty well over my jab a couple of times.
“He didn’t land the power shots like the CompuBox said…I remember when I fought Donald Camarena, and they had him landing 40 percent of his punches. But I didn’t have a scratch on me for 10 rounds.
“You know how hard it is to go 10 rounds and to not have a scratch on you? I didn’t have a scratch on me in 10 rounds when I fought Donald Camarena. But when I looked at CompuBox, they had him landing 40 percent of his shots.
“That’s the night that’s I said, ‘f–king CompuBox, get a f–king life, man.’ It’s all people pressing buttons and all of that s–t, and like I said, every body shot obviously counts.”
On Cano’s fans, Feldman’s card:
“I’ve got to say as far as New York, I guess, as far as hometown decisions? Nothing could be further from the truth in New York for me. I thought definitely that my scorecard was a little bit too close. I thought that I won it pretty easily.
“I respect them, but I don’t think that my fight was close. But Glen Feldmann’s scorecard? I’ve got to say, Glenn Feldman was sitting right in front of Cano’s family. I like Glenn Feldman. He’s been a pretty good judge in other fights, but not mine.
“I remember the Lovemore Ndou fight, I dominated the fight, 120-106, on two scorecards. Glenn Feldman was the only guy that gave Ndou rounds. There was also another fight where I won every round. I don’t know which one it was, but Glenn Feldman was the only gave my opponent rounds.
“He was sitting in front of Cano’s family. A professional like that is not supposed to be influenced by peoples’ families. I mean, they were going crazy. If I looked over at my trainer, Eric Brown, over his shoulder, my eyes would meet them.
“They were right behind Eric. Every time that I sat down, I would look over his shoulder and I would see them. They would be sticking out their tongues and making faces. They were excited, and they were cheering for their guy. Honestly, they had to influence the judge.”
On how close the fight was, overall:
“I mean, seriously? What are you watching, dude? Am I drunk? I remember being knocked down in the 11th round and thinking, clearly, that I was comfortably ahead. This fight, when I got knocked down, I didn’t say, ‘man, I got to get up because this is close.’ I said, ‘man, don’t get your a– knocked out.
“You’re comfortably ahead, and I can’t believe that you just got your a– dropped.’ That’s what I said. I didn’t think that the fight was in jeopardy at all unless, obviously, I got knocked out.
“Some people may have had it a little closer, but I didn’t think it was close. He landed a few right hands, and had a few good rounds. I dominated every round with the jab.”
On referee Steve Smoger, Cano’s eye:
“I’m a jabber all of the time, so I figured that the jab would keep opening the eye. I thought that it did. I mean, I could see the bone. I literally could see the bone. I mean, it was gruesome.
“And, you know, Steve Smoger’s not a referee that stops fights, and I think that a lot of that had to do with what you [pointing to a reporter] wrote. Definitely, Steve Smoger stopped the Senchenko fight.
“But he never stops fights. I think Steve Smoger took offense to that, and I think he was like, ‘you know what? I’m not stopping this fight [laughs.] I get a good laugh out of it now, dude.
“But for a while, I was mad at you. I was like, ‘damn.’ But obviously, it made for some great fireworks. I’m not mad at Steve Smoger. Let me get that out there. I’m mad at Glen Feldman, but I’m not made at Steve Smoger.”
On his trainer, Eric Brown, who also handles Quillin:
“I would like to make a point about Eric Brown. He’s a great trainer. He should get a lot of credit. He trains Kid Chocolate and he trains me. The media, two years ago, wrote me off as dead. So you can’t change your mind now. If I was dead two years ago, the guy that brought me back was Eric Brown.
“You can’t say now that, ‘he wasn’t finished.’ I would say it. I’ve been saying it the whole time. So whatever you were all saying about Paulie Malignaggi two years ago, and you wouldn’t say it to his face, now you have to give credit to the guy who is training Paulie Malignaggi in the gym.
“So that’s Eric Brown, and now he’s taken another fighter to a world championship in Kid Chocolate. So when people give their votes for Trainer of The Year, you have to give Eric Brown serious consideration.
“He’s flown under the radar a number of years, but he’s worked with me, and he’s worked me hard, and we’ve worked on a lot of technique and a lot of different stuff, and I think he’s going to just continue to be in the public eye.”
On Cano’s failure to make weight:
“I thought Pablo Cesar Cano was a good fighter going in. I didn’t underestimate him. I was definitely disappointed that he didn’t make weight. I knew that this was a history-making night as far as world championship fights being in Brooklyn for the first time in 81 years.
“I so desperately wanted to be a part of that. I wanted to have a world championship fight in Brooklyn as well. I worked for two years after signing with Golden Boy to get myself into the welterweight world championship.
“With their help, I got to it. I was really focused on defending a world title here, so it was disappointing that Cano didn’t make weight. When he came, though, he came to fight.
“But in my opinion, I think that they took a different approach as far as when they had the extra time to make the weight. I think they didn’t really didn’t try to make the weight after they had time to make the weight.
“I they figured, ‘let’s not weaken ourselves, let’s try to get a win over Malignaggi instead, because a win over a Malignaggi is still a win over a name, and we don’t have a win over a name yet.’
“I think they said, ‘if we try to make the weight, we may weakening ourselves.’ So I don’t think they tried. I think that they just chalked up the title shot as a loss, and said, ‘you know what, forget the title shot, we don’t have to make weight.
“‘Let’s just try to get the win over Malignaggi.’ But he was strong. He was strong, and he’s a good puncher. I haven’t been hit that hard since the Miguel Cotto fight. So he was a good puncher. Back to the fight, I give Cano credit, he came to fight, he’s a good fighter.”
On being knocked down:
“I still can’t believe that I got dropped. I’m a proud fighter, I’m a proud individual, and I don’t like having to get up, especially in front of my hometown crowd. I got up and I was pretty embarrassed.
“It’s like I remember being dropped in another fight, and both times, the thought went through my head, ‘oh, s–t, I’m going down, you better stay up.’ I mean, as I’m going down, I don’t know if it was like slow motion or what.
“But as I was going down both times in my career, I was trying to stay up, and I was like, ‘oh, s–t.’ It’s weird. I’ve been hurt more when I’m standing up more than I was when I’ve been knocked down. Again, it made the fight exciting, but I didn’t think that the fight was in jeopardy at all. But I guess everybody has their opinion.”
Photo by Naoki Fukuda
Photo by Alex Trautwig, Getty Images
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org