Paulie Malignaggi will get another title opportunity sometime this year against Vyacheslav Senchenko. (Photo by John Gichigi/Bongarts/Getty Images)
The WBA has ordered a purse bid for a welterweight title fight between Vyacheslav Senchenko and Paulie Malignaggi on January 26, putting in motion a fight for a major title that could realistically wind up just about anywhere.
Senchenko (32-0, 21 KO) is a Freddie Roach-trained fighter and one of the world's most low-key titleholders. He won the WBA belt from Yuri Nuzhnenko in 2009, and has since then made quiet defenses against Motoki Sasaki, Charlie Jose Navarro, and Marco Antonio Avendano. To say he's not exactly fought a who's who of the 147-pound division would be an understatement, and though Malignaggi (30-4, 6 KO) is more famous than Senchenko's past opponents, the jury is out (at best) on how legitimate he is in the 147-pound division.
At 31 and with brittle hands, slowing down, losing his natural gifts, and fighting heavy, Malignaggi's best days are absolutely behind him. He no longer has the speed or reflexes to make up for his inability to make opponents respect his punches, which means he's finding it harder and harder to simply outbox foes, which was once his bread-and-butter.
And he didn't exactly look threatening as a welterweight in wins over Jose Miguel Cotto or Orlando Lora in 2011, either, both fights staged as the opening bout of a barely-bought PPV effort (Morales vs Maidana and Hopkins vs Dawson).
But how good is Senchenko, really? It's impossible to take much from his wins over the likes of Sasaki, Navarro, or Avendano, as those guys are mid-tier on their best days. Realistically, Malignaggi probably isn't far above that level anymore, either, so I guess the only real question to be answered here is whether or not Senchenko is good enough to beat a quickly declining, heavy version of Paulie Malignaggi, which in itself wouldn't exactly prove his class in the ring, either.
If you're wondering why Malignaggi is even getting this title shot, since it's a fair question, the answer is simple: Famous and powerful people promote him.