Boxing Rivalries Installment 4: Adrien Broner vs. Paulie Malignaggi.
Selling A Fight.
Many fans tend to overlook one of the honest truths when it comes to professional boxing. Just like all other professional sports, it's a business that thrives off of making money. That's the primary reason why it's referred to as 'prize fighting'.
Most boxers try to sell their fights on their talent alone. However, the most marketable fighters not only rely on their skills to cash their checks, they also rely on their wit and razor sharp tongues as well. We've seen what some deemed to be antics by the like of fighters in their prime such as Muhammed Ali, Roy Jones Jr., and Floyd Mayweather Jr.
All of these fighters were and in regards to Mayweather, are talented, but they knew and know how to sell fights. These days, it's rare to see two boxers that have little to no previous history get personal. Hey it's all about business right? However, there was a rivalry that developed earlier this year between two boxers that in most people's eyes took selling a fight to the extreme.
The hype up leading to the Adrien Broner vs. Paulie Malignaggi Welterweight championship match featured a slew of trashing talking, personal insults, and profanity laced tirades during their press conferences and media appearances. There was so much of it, that I wouldn't be able to fit all of the videos into this piece. What also made this fight interesting was that there was a woman that both fighters apparently have been involved with in the center of the controversy.
So what do you get when you mix a young undefeated fighter that jumped up two weight classes to challenge a veteran in that veteran's backyard? You get all the makings of a rivalry that people such as myself can write about. This is 'Boxing Rivalries Installment 4: Adrien Broner vs. Paulie Malignaggi.'
Although he is only 24 years of age, Adrien Broner has already become one of boxing's most colorful characters. The Cincinnati, Ohio native began his professional boxing career on May 31, 2008 when he defeated Allante Davis by knockout in the first round. Broner's next two professional bouts would also end with first round knockouts, with Broner being victorious.
Between 2008-2010, Broner walked through most of his opponents fairly easily. Broner also stayed extremely active during that time, as he fought 18 times in total. It was evidently clear that Broner was looking to make his mark in the sport of boxing early. His first real test came in March of 2011, when stepped into the ring to face Daniel Ponce De Leon.
Broner went on to defeat Ponce De Leon by a narrow unanimous decision. However, a large portion of boxing fans felt that Broner lost the fight. Following his fight with Ponce De Leon, Broner would go on to defeat several Super Featherweight boxers such as Jason Litzau, Martin Rodriguez, Eloy Perez, and Vicente Escobedo. With Broner's victory over Rodriguez, he secured the vacant WBO Super Featherweight World Title.
In November of 2012, Broner went up to the Lightweight division to face WBC Lightweight champion, Antonio DeMarco. DeMarco would be knocked down by Broner for the first time in his career in the 8th round. Swollen, cut up, and bruised up, DeMarco's corner stopped the fight following the knockdown. Broner had now won his second title in as many weight classes.
Following his destruction of Antonio DeMarco, Broner successfully defended his title against British fighter Gavin Rees. Ree's corner threw in the towel in the 6th round after he began to take brutal punished from Broner. Broner expressed interest in fighting fellow Lightweight Ricky Burns, but the fight was never made. Broner decided to make the jump up to Welterweight. There, he would be facing off against veteran Paulie Maliganaggi, who would instantly become a rival.
Brooklyn native Paulie Malignaggi is considered by many to be a savvy veteran in the sport of boxing. Although he is only 32 years old, Malignaggi began his professional career at Light Welterweight back in 2001. Between 2001 and 2007, Malignaggi ran off 20 consecutive victories. Displaying a colorful and fan friendly personality, Malignaggi's performances help deem him as one of boxing's more likable fighters.
In 2006, Malignaggi faced his toughest test to date when he squared off against a then prime Miguel Cotto. Malignaggi would be knocked down by Cotto in the second round of the fight, but would get up and continue to fight. Cotto would go on to win the bout by unanimous decision, but Malignaggi's spirited performance helped him gain even more respect from his peers.
Following the loss to Cotto, Malignaggi earned the IBF Light Welterweight title via unanimous decision against Lovemore Ndou in 2007. In early 2008, Malignaggi successfully defended his title against Herman Ngoudjo. A rematch against Lovemore Ndou took place for Malignaggi next. Whereas Malignaggi won their first bout convincingly, he would eek out a narrow split decision victory in the second bout. Malignaggi would fracture his his right hand in this fight.
Malignaggi's biggest test in his career probably came in late 2008 when he faced the then IBO and 'The Ring' Light Welterweight champion, Ricky Hatton. Malignaggi was rocked hard by Hatton various times throughout the fight, and fell way behind on the scorecards. Malignaggi's then trainer, Buddy McGirt, threw in the towel - effectively ending the bout in the 11th round.
After two bouts against Juan Diaz where Malignaggi lost the first bout but would win the second, Malignaggi squared off against Amir Khan. The referee stopped the fight in the eleventh round in favor of Khan, as Malignaggi was clearly over matched. After a TKO victory over Viacheslav Senchenko in April of 2012, Malignaggi won a controversial spit-decision victory over Pablo Cesar Cano in October of 2012. Malignaggi remained inactive up until June 2013. This was the day that he would cross paths in the ring with Adrien Broner.
A Woman In the Middle?
As mentioned earlier, boxing is primarily about selling the big money fights. Fans enjoy press conferences and public appearances full of controversy. Controversy indeed sells when it comes to boxing. However, it can be argued that the hype up for this fight was a bit over the top at times. The lead up to this fight was probably one of the most interesting hype experience I've seen in regards to personal attacks.
Besides his obvious talent in the ring, there is one thing that makes Adrien Broner such a controversial figure in boxing; he doesn't care what he says. Broner often refers to Floyd Mayweather Jr., who many people consider to be boxing's prolific trash talker, as his big brother. Similar to Floyd, Broner doesn't mince his words or thoughts. Whatever comes to his mind, is exactly what comes out of his mouth.
Broner's personality rubs many people the wrong way, but it makes for good entertainment if you can get past it. Paulie Malignaggi on the other hand is similar to Broner when it comes to being flashy. However, Paulie is more respectable towards his opponents than what Broner is. With that said, it was clear that this fight was not only going to be interesting in the ring, but outside of it as well.
The press conferences and media appearances leading up to their June 22nd bout didn't disappoint. However, there was an interesting twist between these two fighters leading up to the fight. There was a woman that ended up being at the center of the obvious beef between the two. Apparently, this woman - identified as "Jessica" by Broner, was at one point Paulie Malignaggi's ex-girlfriend. The interesting about this was that she was now apparently with Adrien Broner. Two boxers, and a woman in the middle.
During media appearances, Broner claimed that Jessica told him that Paulie had physically abused her, and that Broner was going to beat Malignaggi in the ring for this. Broner's insults towards Malignaggi also included taking a swipe at Malignaggi's lack of punching power, and claiming that he wasn't getting paid more than Broner for the fight. Malignaggi's verbal insults toward Broner primarily included claims that Broner had yet to fight any worthy opponents up to this point. Malignaggi also suggested that Broner had his leftovers in referral to the woman Jessica.
The video below features one of their heated confrontations leading up the fight. I want to warn that the video contains strong language.
Broner vs. Malignaggi.
Both Paulie Malignaggi and Adrien Broner done more than enough to sell the fight. It was an event that many boxing fans had looked forward to. Because Adrien Broner was undefeated heading into the fight (26-0, 22 K.O.'s), he was the early favorite to win. However, his jumping up two weight classes to fight Malignaggi had a lot of people thinking that he had bitten off more than he could chew.
Since the fight was taking place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, the crowd was obviously with the hometown fighter, Paulie Malignaggi. During the fight, the 32 year old Malignaggi was clearly the busier fighter. Malignaggi used his foot speed to move the ring on the flat footed Broner. Malignaggi used fast punches to pepper Broner's body, but Broner's tight defense prevented Malignaggi from hitting Broner flush to the face.
Malignaggi's body punches didn't appear to phase Broner much and once Broner realized that Paulie didn't have a lot of power, he began to walk Malignaggi down as the fight carried on. Broner displayed the calm and poise that he has shown in many of his previous fights, as he methodically picked his shots on Malignaggi. As the fight carried on, Broner began to land effective counter punches on Malignaggi, who began to slow down some as the fight carried on.
The fight would go the entire twelve rounds, with Broner being awarded a split decision victory. One judge had the fight scored 115-113 for Paulie Malignaggi, while the other two judges had the fight 117-111, and 115-113 in favor of Broner. Broner's victory made him a three weight champion at just 23 years of age. With the loss, Malignaggi's record fell to (32-5).
Aftermath, and What's Next?
Both Adrien Broner and Paulie Malignaggi continued to go at one another during their post fight interviews with Showtime Boxing's Jim Gray. Broner stated; "I beat Paulie, I left with his title and his girl." Broner's comment set off a frustrated Malignaggi, who walked over to Broner and confronted him about his comments. The two would need to be separated in the ring.
While talking to Jim Gray, Malignaggi stated that one of the judge's scorecard was a "joke", and suggested that the more politically connected fighters like Broner get the close decisions. The tension from the fight carried over into the post fight press conferences, where each fighter talked to the press separately from the other.
Most people probably wouldn't classify Adrien Broner vs. Paulie Maligaggi as an actual rivalry. The two had no previous boxing history, and it's very unlikely that they'll ever meet again in the ring. However, because of the personal stakes, along with the Jessica story line leading up to the fight, I think it could be classified as a semi-rivalry. As entertaining as the hype up was, I personally wished that there would have been more respect and class displayed between the two.
Adrien Broner's next fight will take place on December 14, 2013 against Argentinian fighter Marcos Maidana. Broner will look to defend his title, and maintain his undefeated record. As for Paulie Malignaggi, It was recently announced that he will be facing fellow Brooklyn fighter Zab Judah on December 7, 2013.