At age 33, Paulie Malignaggi has stated several times that he's not looking to fight forever, and that only the "right" fights will keep him in the ring, big money, big main events, and world titles. Though there's no belt on the line for Saturday's Brooklyn showdown with Zab Judah at the Barclays Center, he's back in a Showtime main event, and believes a win will get him back into the world title mix at 147 pounds.
Malignaggi (32-5, 7 KO) lost his WBA welterweight title in June of this year, dropping a very close split decision to rising star Adrien Broner. But he's leading a stacked card, and says he's humbled to still be at this level.
"I was blown away to be in the main event of such an incredible card. When I saw the co-features I said 'Wow,'" Malignaggi stated at Thursday's press conference. "Seeing everyone come up here one-by-one really lets me know how amazing this card is. It humbles me and blows me away that I'm still fighting with these top-level athletes."
Malignaggi also avoided taking what may have been bait from Judah, who said that Malignaggi is not an "authentic" Brooklynite, comparing him to knockoff Jordans. Instead, he maintained his well-known respect for Zab.
"Me and Zab have had a lot of longevity across these years. The fact that we're still at this level speaks volumes about our skills, determination and ring savvy," he said. "Camp has been hard. I was very motivated, even without a world championship on the line. Zab is right, there can only be one king."
Paulie talked of potentially leaving boxing after his fight with Broner, not because he was outraged by anything, but simply because he only wanted another big fight next, and if one hadn't been available, he may have considered moving into a full-time job as a commentator for Showtime Sports.
Instead, he's back, and now has his sights set on another world title, having already won belts at 140 and 147 pounds.
"Beating a Zab Judah leads to a world title fight. I have no doubt about it. The rewards of winning a fight like this are motivating in and of itself," he said.
"This is like working in those gladiator days," Malignaggi continued, echoing Judah's "Roman days" statements. "You didn't get to pick who you fought. It could've been your friend, but it's either him or you.
"Somebody has to win and somebody has to lose on Saturday night. I've prepared very well."
The atmosphere is expected to be strong for a pair of local fighters with large and loyal followings, and Malignaggi is looking forward to hearing that crowd welcome the two men home.
"One thing we say in Brooklyn, is 'Brooklyn, stand up!' and Saturday I know Brooklyn will stand up."