Paulie Malignaggi tells Michael Woods of ESPN New York that he's been told he'll headline the brand new Barclays Center in Brooklyn this October, as the new WBA welterweight titlist begins what is basically his second career and a new lease on his boxing life.
Malignaggi also says that during his win over Vyacheslav Senchenko, he almost allowed dummies like me to convince him that Senchenko was a lot better than he turned out to be:
"I had some time on my hands and read the Internet before, the Internet geniuses, heard that he had a better jab than me, had faster hands, and I started to believe some of that BS. I was expecting a good jab, and he was slow as balls. I thought, Wow, this could be a cakewalk. But I didn't want to get overconfident. I thought maybe he was starting slow. But after a few rounds, I knew I had the fight."
Senchenko did indeed wind up looking slow as balls, but it's my Internet genius opinion that Paulie surprised a lot of folks by just how fresh, how quick, how determined, and how good he was in this fight, too.
He looked like a new man in there, nothing like the tired-looking fighter who rather routinely won decisions over Jose Miguel Cotto and Orlando Lora last year. Whether he changed anything in camp, or just had a renewed focus and was fighting his heart out in a last chance sort of way, he smoked Senchenko, and has surely convinced everyone that he's back in the game. If you don't want to listen to me, then how about Steve Smoger, the veteran referee who was the third man in the ring. Here's what he told RingTV.com:
"I think that Paulie Malignaggi resurrected his career and re-invented himself with this fight. I think that he displayed tremendous conditioning, and I have never seen his left jab look so good. His left jab was a piston."
Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn has been trying to talk up a fight between Malignaggi and Kell Brook for July 7, but Golden Boy's Richard Schaefer said immediately after the fight that he wasn't interested in sending Paulie to the UK that quickly. Brook has a fight set for Sheffield Arena on that date, and will probably be facing Carson Jones.
Schaefer sort of took a shot at Hearn calling for the fight in the UK press, and made clear that he's not interested in Brook:
"This guy Eddie Hearn, he must be an amateur, because he says all of these things to the newspapers. Call me if you want to do a fight. ... Kell Brook might be big in the United Kingdom, but here in the United States, he doesn't really matter."
Kell Brook drew 10,000 fans in Sheffield for his March 17 win over Matthew Hatton, and figures to drum up solid interest for his next fight. While some have felt he was brought along too slowly by Frank Warren, and this was the given reason for his jump to Matchroom, it looks like he was paced nicely and has become a fighter who can draw a little bit. A move to the States is probably inevitable if they're going to target a world title, and I don't see any great reason Malignaggi couldn't fight Brook at Barclays in October.
The latest WBA top 15 wasn't exactly filled with true top contenders, with Malignaggi at No. 2 and Brook at No. 3, plus Devon Alexander at No. 7. It's unlikely we'd see Malignaggi vs Thomas Dulorme (4), for instance, as Dulorme is still in the prospect stages and could be very vulnerable to a veteran like Malignaggi picking him apart. The majority of the top 15 is international guys with even less name value in the States than Brook. Malignaggi vs Brook might be about as good as it's going to get, and to be clear, it's a very good fight.