Paulie Malignaggi scored a decisive unanimous decision victory over Edner Cherry in his return to the ring tonight at the Hammerstein Ballroom on HBO, easily outpointing his opponent with an effective jab but a suspicious lack of productivity from his oft-injured right hand. Max Kellerman and Lennox Lewis pondered a Hatton/Malignaggi fight down the line, but as interesting as that could be (a perfect clash of styles to get some high action, if probably no knockout), that would be a long way off.
Cherry was a tune-up guy, stepping up in weight, not a lot of power, and on The Magic Man's home turf. While Malignaggi was impressive tonight, he still has improvements to make, and it remains to be seen if he can beat a top fighter by boxing for 12 rounds, because knockouts just aren't coming out of him.
On the undercard, Sechew Powell outpointed Ishe Smith, but our own Kevin Gonzalez and HBO's Harold Lederman saw it differently, and it seemed as though the crowd -- booing Brooklyn's Powell in NYC at the announcement of the scores -- agreed with them. I had Powell winning 96-93, but felt it could have very easily gone the other way. Powell fought an uninspired fight, but I felt he did enough to win. I wouldn't have really argued with a Smith decision, though.
Also, Andre Berto floored Nito Bravo three times in two minutes and 28 seconds for a first round TKO. Not that beating up Nito Bravo proves anything, but Berto just has that intangible when you watch him fight, and I really think he's going to be a serious force. He's a powder keg, great speed, great footwork, great power, and great accuracy.
In the UK, heavyweight Audley Harrison's career came to an apparent bitter end at the hands of Michael Sprott. Sprott was dropped in the first round, but came back to put Fraudley out for good in the third. If Harrison is indeed finished -- and he should be -- his career ends at age 35, with a 21-3 record.
He is one of the great disappointments of his era, and will be remembered as no more than a joke that repeatedly gave the public a big persona that he couldn't back up in the ring against anyone of worth. Sprott now moves on to fight British champion Matt Skelton in May.
135/140 pound prospect Amir Khan fought on the undercard, disposing of Mohammed Medjadji in the first round, garnering boos for his efforts. It would seem that the public desires Khan to take tougher fights, even though he's just 11 fights into his pro career and is only 20 years old. Truthfully, Khan is likely best off staying the course for now. He remains one of the most exciting young fighters in the sport, and there's really no rush to push him too fast. Of course, he also doesn't want to become Audley Harrison.
Acutally, back to Harrison. I'm of the opinion that Audley Harrison just sucks. Skills-wise, he maybe could have been a contender. ("You coulda been a contender!") But he was so full of his own shit that he sabotaged his own career, and now has lost all of the credibility he ever had. Not only did he not fulfill his self-appointed destiny of winning the world heavyweight title, he never even got on the doorstep. Hell, he didn't get into the yard.
In news concerning upcoming fights, Arturo Gatti's people have dismissed the idea of Gatti fighting Diego Corrales on July 14, and said there are "a few" options being discussed. An announcement should come soon, as Gatti's management meets with HBO to iron out who Thunder will face after what will have been by then a year out of the ring after being dismantled by Carlos Baldomir. It's too bad we won't see Gatti/Corrales at 140, because that could have been a really fun slugfest.