WASHINGTON, D.C.– Paulie Malignaggi discussed his injuries, the notion of retirement and his impressions of unbeaten IBF welterweight titleholder Shawn Porter in the wake of last Saturday's fourth-round knockout loss, during which the 33-year-old, two-division titlewinner was dropped twice in the final stanza.
After falling to the 26-year-old Porter (24-0-1, 15 KOs), the Brooklyn-born Malignaggi (33-6, 7 knockouts) said he will weigh his options following discussions with powerful advisor Al Haymon, Haymon's right-hand man, Sam Watson and his management team.
Malignaggi had won his previous 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.
Although he considered himself at the top of his game after having signed a deal with Golden Boy Promotions and then aligning himself with Haymon after defeating Judah, Malignaggi admitted the loss could convince him to retire to his role as a Showtime ringside boxing analyst, for which he 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.
A former junior middleweight managed and trained by his father, Kenny, Porter had said he planned 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.
If this is the end for Malignaggi, he will have endured 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 professional fight. They would plague him throughout what has nevertheless been a tremendous pro resume.
The loss to Broner represented Malignaggi’s first since falling by 11th-round knockout to Amir Khan 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 fourth 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 technical knockout to Ricky Hatton in November 2008 and by controversial unanimous decision to Juan Diaz in the latter’s home town of Houston in August 2009. It was a setback that Malignaggi avenged in the same manner three months later in Chicago.
Having credited California-based trainer Eric Brown for his late surge, Malignaggi's following quotes are in regard to Porter, his injuries and the prospect of retirement.
Paulie Malignaggi on Shawn Porter's power:
"I wouldn't say that the jab surprised me. I expected him to jab. The thing is I'm pretty durable and a sturdy guy. I'm a guy that no one can say doesn't take a good punch and I'm a guy that does take a good punch. What surprised me was that he was incredibly strong. Every shot that he hit me with hurt me. I was in a situation where even if I didn't go down, before the fight was over, every shot that hit me, I was like, 'Wow; what power.' It was more of what surprised me was how strong he was.
"This is a guy who hadn't had a knockout in two years. This is a guy that wasn't somebody that really had that killer reputation. If you would have told me in the Miguel Cotto fight that this would happen to me, with a reputation such as that, then it would be like, 'Okay, this is a guy who is known as a strong guy.' But I didn't expect that from Porter. I didn't expect the power that would hurt me like that.
"I've been in with some of the best fighters in the world, so I know when a fighter is strong and I know how to deal with it. But I couldn't deal with the power. It was really out of this world, the power that I got hit with and the way that I was feeling when he hit me, you know? So it was pretty shocking. I was surprised but it was also shocking. I was hurt right away and then I got hit with more shots after I was hurt.
"I was starting to wonder at some point in the fight if it was me and if it was just mental because I'm older and I don't want to be in this kind of fight. Nobody had hit me this hard. It was starting to irk me during the fight because I was mad at myself. I was like, 'You can't really be this hurt. This guy is not a puncher. This guy is not that strong,' and, 'You've been in with harder punchers than this.'
"It was starting to irk me where I was trying to tell myself, like, 'Come on; you can't be this hurt. There's no way you're this hurt.' I was like, 'You're not supposed to be hurt this bad, bro. You've been in with bigger punchers. You're not hurt.' I thought it was more mental and that I had to motivate myself and that, 'I'm not really hurt but I'm just not getting myself pumped up for the fight.'
"So I thought that I could just charge myself and pull it together because I didn't believe that he was that strong. But he was hurting me and I still didn't want to believe that he was that strong. The fact that I was hurt like that constantly was probably the most shocking thing of all."
Malignaggi on the knockout:
"It turns out that when I got knocked out, I remember trying to get up and I remember seeing that everybody was already inside of the ring.
"So, I haven't seen the fight on video, so I don't know how long it took me to get up. That was truly a first for me, not being able to handle it."
Malignaggi on his injuries:
"The aftermath of the fight was that I had a lot of damage because in the aftermath of the fight, I was vomiting and they had to take me to the hospital. I was vomiting when I went to the hospital.
"They kept me at the hospital for observation because there was a hematoma behind my left ear where they wanted not to start bleeding and the threat that it would start bleeding was there because it was a pretty bad hemotoma behind my left ear.
"So it was something that proved that he was really hitting me hard. So obviously, the aftermath of the fight showed that I really was hurt and it wasn't just having to pump myself up and fight. I was very motivated, obviously. I've never had that kind of damage done to me by a fighter.
"Cotto broke my orbital bone but neurologically, I was fine. Nobody has done that to me to that sort of level in just three-and-a-half rounds of work. That kind of damage to my body and to my brain in just three-and-a-half rounds worth of work."
Maliganaggi on what he said to Porter after the fight:
"I just said 'Go and be great, so if I do stop fighting, I can say that the guy that retired me' — that would make him the guy that retired me — 'I want to be able to say that I lost to a great fighter and not just a regular fighter.'
"If Shawn is the guy that retires me, that would be pretty cool if Shawn was to go on and do great things. As far as the weight class, one of the feathers in his cap would be that he retired me. I could say that was my last fight but that it was to a guy that became great.
"The thing is that Genaro Hernandez lost to Floyd Mayweather and at the time that he lost to him, nobody knew how great Floyd Mayweather was going to become. But that ended up looking pretty cool later on that, hey, Mayweather was the guy that retired Genaro.
"It would be interesting if this could be thought of in that fashion. That's what I was trying to tell Shawn, was, 'Go and be great,' so that I could tell everybody that I lost to a great fighter. If I retire after this loss, then it's not so bad; you know? That's why I told Shawn to go and be great if this is the fight that ends it."
Maliganggi on what is next:
"I am not sure. I'll go back and speak to my team. I'll go back and speak with Al and Sam. But right now, I'm not really thinking about fighting.
"I'll go back and do the commentating on the fights. It's a job that I love to do and I don't have to worry about concussions when I'm outside of the ring watching; you know?"