WASHINGTON, D.C.– As a boxer, Paulie Malignaggi has displayed the gift of jab. But lately, he's accompanied that, more and more, with his gift of gab.
Malignaggi displayed that second aspect during a Thursday press conference at The Hamilton Live restaurant in Northwest, Washington, D.C., where the 33-year-old Brooklyn-born fighter took reporters to task for his belief that his skills have not been validated, and characterized himself as being a more talented, more intelligent and more resourceful fighter than IBF welterweight titleholder Shawn Porter, who he challenges on Saturday's Showtime tripleheader at The D.C. Armory in Washington, D.C.
A two-division titlewinner, Malignaggi (33-5, 7 knockouts) will challenge the 26-year-old Porter (23-0-1, 14 KOs) in the second bout of the tripleheader being billed as "History At The Capitol."
The headliner will feature IBF light heavyweight titleholder Bernard Hopkins (54-6-2, 32 KOs) against WBA couunterpart Beibut Shumenov (14-1, 9 KOs) with the opening bout being a middleweight bout between WBO beltholder Peter Quillin (30-0, 22 KOs) and Lukas Konecny (50-4, 23 KOs) starting at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT.
Malignaggi won his last fight by unanimous decision over ex-beltholder Zab Judah in December to rebound from losing his WBA welterweight belt to Adrien Broner by split decision loss last June.
A former junior middleweight managed and trained by his father, Kenny, Porter has said he plans to walk through Malignaggi in defense of the belt he won from Devon Alexander in December.
Porter’s victory over Alexander was preceded by last September’s unanimous decision over ex-beltholder Julio Diaz, with whom Porter had battled to a draw in December 2012.
"At days end, we're both very hungry. But I feel that I'm the more talented fighter. Not that Shawn is not talented, but I feel that I'm the more talented fighter," said Malignaggi. "I feel that I'm the more intelligent fighter, not that Shawn is not intelligent. Again, I feel that what I have in my back pocket is more than what he has in his pockets. Come Saturday night, we'll see if I'm right, or if Shawn's confidence is right."
Malignaggi has endured over the course of a career that has included winning titles in the 140- and 147-pound divisions, this, despite having suffered the first of numerous injuries after his third fight that would plague him throughout what has, nevertheless, been a tremendous pro career.
Through his first three professional bouts — two in July of 2001 and one in November of that year — Malignaggi stopped his rivals in one, four and three rounds, respectively.
Malignaggi first injured his right hand knocking out Luis Melendez in his third pro fight, feeling "a sharp pain in my middle and pointer-finger knuckles." Malignggi was "told that I had torn the tendons off of both knuckles and that I needed surgery."
Malignaggi received surgery after his fight, a split decision victory over Paul Delgado on November of 2002 undercard of Arturo Gatti's win over Micky Ward in their second fight in Atlantic City.
After three victories, including a sixth-round stoppage of Kevin Watts in August 2003, Malignaggi soundly decisioned Delgado, yet again, on the December 2003 on the undercard of Vitali Klitschko’s second-round knockout of Kirk Johnson.
Despite re-injuring the hand, yet again, versus Delgado, Malignaggi’s stock increased over his next five decision victories, including those over Rocky Martinez, Ramiro Cano and Sandro Casamonica.
Malignaggi pinged media members on Thursday for what he perceives as relative ignorance of his skills.
"Over the course of the years, unfortunately, the viewpoint of media, toward me, has been more about 'How does this guy keep sticking around' as opposed to appreciating what I do, and the fact that I have out-lasted almost every single fighter that has been hyped more than me," said Malignaggi.
"I've been continuing to excel at the highest level of this sport, regardless of the naysaying that they do, consistently. And, again, instead of seeing the qualities in me as a fighter, they keep saying, 'How is this guy still around,' as if this should be a surprise."
The loss to Broner represented Malignaggi’s first since falling by 11th-round knockout to Amir Khan to as a junior welterweight at New York’s Madison Square Garden in May 2010.
Malignaggi won the belt in April 2012 with a ninth-round stoppage of previously unbeaten Ukrainian Vyacheslav Senchenko, representing his fifth straight victory as a welterweight during a run that had included two knockout wins.
Before facing Broner, Malignaggi had earned a split-decision victory over Mexico City’s Pablo Cesar Cano at Barclays Center in October 2012.
Malignaggi’s other losses were against Miguel Cotto by decision in June 2006, by 11th-round knockout Ricky Hatton in November 2008, and by controversial unanimous decision to Juan Diaz in the latter’s home town of Houston in August 2009, a setback that Malignaggi avenged the same way in Chicago in December of that year.
"If you are surprised, if you take the blinders out of your damn eyes, you guys would see a quality fighter, and you would understand the qualities that I have as a fighter," said Malignaggi, crediting California-based trainer Eric Brown for the transformation.
"If you guys were such experts as you claim to be, you would see the little subtleties and the little improvements that I continue to make as the years have passed, year-to-year, and the changes in my style that I have made, year-to-year, especially since I've gotten with Eric Brown. But, of course, you guys are the experts, and you guys already see that."
Malignaggi considers himself to be at the top of his game after having signed a deal with Golden Boy and also aligned himself with power advisor Al Haymon after defeating Judah. Also a Showtime ringside boxing analyst, Malignaggi will be honored as the winner of the Boxing Writers' Association of America's "Sam Taub Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism" at the organization's annual dinner on May 1.
"Paulie Malignaggi is so, so, difficult to beat, and he continues to excel behind the microphone," said Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer. "For you to have the hunger to yet go and challenge for another world title, that speaks for itself about the character for Paulie Malignaggi."
Next up, however, is Porter, who dictated a physical fight that left both he and Alexander bleeding from cuts above their eyes. Nicknamed, "The Magic Man," Malignaggi may have to do the equivalent of pulling a rabbit out of his hat yet again.
"If they think that this fight is going to be like the Devon Alexander fight, then they're sadly mistaken," said Brown. "That's two different animals. Paulie Malignaggi is not like anybody else that they've ever fought. It's going to be a great fight."