Paulie Malignaggi Discusses Mayweather/Maidana II and Pacquiao
Paulie Doesn't Agree that Pacquiao has Looked Sharper Recently
Paulie Malignaggi was kind enough to share 30 minutes of his time. Although this author doesn't always agree with him, he is a damn good analyst and has a very high ring IQ in addition to being a great guy. After some small talk we got right into the Mayweather/Maidana rematch and if he agreed with me that if one were to compare their last two fights, Pacquiao has looked sharper than Mayweather. "Styles make fights and I don't know if Pacquiao were to face Maidana that he would not have a hard time with him too. Maidana is a stylistic nightmare for everyone. He's just a hard guy to deal with".
How does Paulie see a Mayweather/Pacquiao fight playing out? "If we are going to get into that, I don't think a Mayweather/Pacquiao fight is even a close fight. I think if they fought right now Floyd Mayweather would win a 10 rounds to 2 decision over Pacquiao. I think the only reason that fight is even being talked about is because it hasn't happened yet. In reality, guys like Amir Khan and Keith Thurman pose a much greater threat to Floyd than Pacquiao does or ever did. Those guys pose a huge threat to his 0".
Why then won't Floyd fight him? If Pacquiao represents an easy win for Floyd in addition to his greatest purse by far, why not make the damn fight? Malignaggi responded by placing the onus on egos "it's more about egos and numbers than any kind of fear. There really isn't anything for Floyd to be afraid of. Pacquiao hasn't looked devestating in a long time. He hasn't knocked anyone out in ages". I pointed out that the guys he has been facing recently aren't fighters who get stopped. "Yeah, but the guys he was stopping before were guys who hadn't gotten stopped either".
That is factually untrue. If one were to look at the opponents that Pacquiao stopped during his historic run, they would see that with the exception of Eric Morales and Jorge Solis, each and every one of them had been stopped prior to Pacquiao doing so. David Diaz was knocked out by Kendall Holt. Oscar De La Hoya was stopped by Bernard Hopkins and required an IV to get down to a weight he hadn't been at in almost a decade. Ricky Hatton had been knocked out by Mayweather. Miguel Cotto had been knocked out by Antonio Margarito. Since the Cotto fight, Pacquiao has faced seven different opponents, only one of which had ever been knocked out (Margarito).
"Referee Kenny Bayless is a Great Ref But Had a Bad Night"
Paulie has high praise in general for referees Kenny Bayless and Tony Weeks, but felt that they both had bad nights. "I think Kenny Bayless is one of the best referees in the sport but he didn't take control of this fight at all. He took control of Maidana but he didn't take control of the fight. The referee for the first fight (Tony Weeks) is also a great referee but he didn't do a good job either. I think the best officiating would have been somewhere in between the way Tony Weeks refereed the first fight and Kenny Bayless refereed the second fight but then again Marcos Maidana is not an easy guy to referee".
Malignaggi went on to point out that it's rare to meet a boxer who fights like a saint. "At the end of the day it's a fight between two grown men. At some point they are going to do something dirty". The conversation reverted back to potential slippage and age being a factor vis-a-vis Mayweather. The discussion of the impact that aging has on a fighter's legs came up. Paulie concedes that Floyd's legs aren't quite the same as they used to be. This author believes that Floyd isn't able to consistently rely on his legs for two to three minutes per round as he was able to in the past. In addition, I believe that if Maidana was blessed with slightly quicker feet and/or better ability to cut off the ring while an opponent is as mobile as Floyd was in the rematch would have been able to catch Floyd more in their second fight despite Floyd's increased lateral movement.
Malignaggi categorically disagrees, "I don't think it had anything to do with it. I think Maidana tracked Mayweather down plenty of times but wasn't able to work after he tracked him down. The referee would break them apart instantly. Then on the outside Maidana had to start all over again and work his way back in only to be broken apart again. It's very frustrating to have to start all over again. This would have been a very different fight with a different referee".
This is another area where Paulie and I differ. Take another aggressive fighter with crunching power like Middleweight Champion Gennady Golovkin. "GGG" as he is known has faced many movers like Mayweather and if one watches video of his fights one would see how masterfully he cuts off the ring and is able to land his Sunday punches time after time regardless of who the referee is and how often the opponent holds and they are broken up. There is a skill to being able to cut the ring off and land to the head and body before being held and/or broken up by the referee. Mike Tyson faced a plethora of opponents who held him and referees who would break them apart whenever this occurred and he managed to defeat the vast majority of them, many by knockout.
Paulie Leans Towards Thurman and Khan Beating Mayweather
Due to Floyd's legs not being what they were and how much he relies on them when facing punchers, Paulie said he actually leans towards Keith Thurman and Amir Khan beating Floyd at this time. "I agree 100% with you that age has affected Floyd's legs and because of that I think that Thurman and Khan are HUGE threats to Floyd's undefeated record and deserve to face Mayweather more than Pacquiao does. I'm actually leaning towards them beating Floyd at this time. They are very dangerous right now and I think they both beat Pacquiao as well. Khan has a style that is very dangerous to Floyd". This author believes that ideally Khan and Thurman would fight each other and the winner would have earned the right to face Floyd but Paulie disagrees. "No, then you eliminate one of them. I think they are both hell for Mayweather and should both fight him".
It's interesting that Malignaggi feels that Khan who hasn't beaten an A level fighter in his prime since ironically beating Maidana almost four years ago and Thurman who has never beaten an A level fighter and has only held an interim title are more deserving of a fight against Floyd than Pacquiao. Manny is an eight division champion with umpteen A level fighters and/or Hall of Famers on his resume, including one in his last fight (Timothy Bradley) who he has arguably beaten twice and was ranked in the top 5 P4P by Ring magazine which is owned by Golden Boy, who up until recently was the arch rival of Bradley's promoter Bob Arum.
Do you agree with Paulie that Khan and Thurman pose a greater threat and are more deserving of facing Mayweather?
Paulie Doesn't Rate Manny Very Highly as a Boxer
It's safe to assume that Paulie doesn't rate Manny Pacquiao very highly as a boxer. "I think he sucks bro. I think if he had agreed to the drug testing years ago they would have fought by now. That would have never been a close fight. Pacquiao struggled with Agapito Sanchez who I outboxed easily as a 17 year old kid in the amateurs. He has no change of speed or pace in his style. He has no extra dynamics where he is going to switch things up. It's all fastball, fastball, fastball. He attacks the same way, there's no head movement. This is not a fighter who is going to beat Floyd Mayweather. He is not on that level".
Malignaggi elaborates even further. "During that two or three year period when Manny Pacquiao made his reputation and was looking phenomenal, he unequivocally refused random blood testing and came up with every stupid imaginable excuse he could come up with. He was always a good fighter but he didn't look like Superman until that two or three year period and hasn't looked the same since. For that reason, it's really hard for me to rank him as high as Mayweather. He will never beat Mayweather. Whether they fought 4 years ago, they fight tomorrow or they fight next year".
When I brought up all the stupid excuses that Floyd has come up with as to why he wouldn't face Pacquiao (including the absurd zero PPV revenue offer and an unwillingness to do business with Arum who has been Pacquiao's promoter since day one), Malignaggi asked the following question, "why create an excuse for an opponent that you are going to beat anyway?You need an excuse not to face Keith Thurman, you don't need an excuse to not to face Manny Pacquiao".
This author couldn't possibly disagree more. Actions speak louder than words. Mayweather's actions subsequent to the initial negotiations back in 2009 have been consistent with a man who never wanted the fight to begin with and had an excuse waiting once the last obstacle that he created was dealt with and removed. Clearly the Mayweather camp views Pacquiao as a much greater threat to Floyd than Paulie does, otherwise this fight would have happened twice by now. In the past, Mayweather has shown how he will behave when he doesn't view a fighter as a great risk but rather a greater reward. Ricky Hatton and Oscar De La Hoya immediately come to mind.
Malignaggi believes that Khan and Thurman should face Mayweather and Pacquiao should face Marquez for a fifth time. Both Marquez and Pacquiao have been accused of being less than clean (neither have ever failed a drug test and no one is labelling either one of them dirty). Paulie questions how clean either fighter was in their classic fourth encounter. "The pace of that fight was superhuman and subsequent to that fight, with the exception of the Bradley fight (where random drug testing occurred), Marquez has looked stronger than ever at 40 years of age". Perhaps if they fight a fifth time whether they were clean or not in the past, they can have a special rule that mandates that they be on something illegal. Random blood testing can be implemented and if either boxer tests negative for a PED they would be banned for a year. Laughing, Malignaggi responded, "not a bad idea".