Paulie Malignaggi wasn't at his best tonight as he came home to Brooklyn, but he made it out of the Barclays Center with a split decision win over Pablo Cesar Cano, winning on scores of 114-113, 114-113, and 109-118. BLH scored it 115-112 for Cano, which matched up with the Showtime broadcasters.
Malignaggi (32-4, 7 KO) started the fight well enough, but it became clear quickly that Cano (25-2-1, 19 KO) wasn't going to be a pushover. By the middle rounds, with Cano outlanding Malignaggi in a big way on power shots, doing plenty of effective body work, and scoring with his jab, the young Mexican fighter was able to work around a nasty cut on his left eye suffered in round two, and turn it into a very competitive, somewhat back-and-forth affair.
But what seemed to likely turn the tide was a wicked 11th round knockdown of Malignaggi, owing to a blistering right hand from Cano. Cano, who missed weight for the fight, appeared the stronger of the two men for the majority of the bout, was clearly a good bit bigger, and gave Malignaggi a lot of trouble simply by always coming forward.
To say the very least, tonight's Paulie Malignaggi, lucky to beat a mid-tier ex-lightweight who wasn't in great shape, didn't much resemble the Malignaggi who went to Ukraine earlier this year and diced up Vyacheslav Senchenko.
Paulie escaped, and I can't quite call it disgraceful, but we're right back to it seeming like the bells are tolling for his career as a relevant fighter. Cano is solid, and tough, and a brave young fighter, but Malignaggi just wasn't himself tonight. Maybe he needs that extra underdog kick like he had against Senchenko. Maybe he hurt his right hand tonight (he didn't throw it a lot). Maybe it was just a bad night. Maybe he's going to have these nights (he always has, really). But he got out, has his WBA welterweight title still, and can move on. Expect him to look for a real money fight next -- the clock is ticking loud.
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