Paulie’s Italian Mission

By Ted Sares on October 10, 2015
Paulie’s Italian Mission
Win the Euro title in Italy and then concentrate on being Showtime’s expert commentator.

Once again, and like so many other boxers who can’t let go, Paulie is still fighting but now the risk-reward is a dangerous one…

“There was a moment during Paulie’s post-fight interview when he began to choke back the tears. The Brooklyn crowd, many of whom had supported their fellow Brooklynite from the very beginning of his career, started cheering him on. Malignaggi, whose face was busted after a ninth-round technical knockout defeat to Danny Garcia, acknowledged them for perhaps the final time. Let’s hope it’s the final time. The brash, cocky, machine-gun talking Italian who reached the pinnacle of the sport despite having zero power, is absolutely shot.”—Lou Catalano (Queensbury Rules)

Current European welterweight champion Gianluca Branco (49-3-1) doesn’t like fighting out of his home country Italy because when he does he usually loses. He lost to Matthew Hatton in the UK in 2010 and to Miguel Cotto in Puerto Rico in 2006. Way back in 2004, he traveled to Atlantic City and lost a competitive UD to Arturo Gatti. He did however beat Gabriel Mapouka Kongbo in France in 2001 to win the vacant EBU (European) super lightweight title

One of Branco’s better wins was his most recent when he stopped Poland’s Rafal “Braveheart” Jackiewicz a year ago in Lazio, Italy, in a thriller in which both men hit the deck. The 45-year-old Branco went down in rounds three and four, while Jackiewicz was floored in the sixth and stayed down. “Braveheart” has faced extremely strong opposition over the years, and holds wins over Jan Zaveck, Delvin Rodriguez, and Jackson Osei Bonsu among others.

This is all by way of saying that Brooklyn’s Paulie Malignaggi (34-7) seems to be on a collision course with Branco in an effort to win the European welterweight title and maybe get into a position for one final go at a world title.

Paulie’s first step in this “plan” occurred recently when he easily beat Hungarian journeyman Laszlo Fazekas (27-21-1) in an eight-rounder in Milan. Paulie said about this win, “I didn’t have a long time to train for the fight and I’d just come off a nice vacation in Europe and had a lot of weight to lose! I put in the work. I probably could’ve used the eight rounds. So I’ll take it like a good sparring session and try to work off that.”

The “Magic Man” knows better than anyone that a boxer can grow old overnight. Malignaggi was mugged and concussed by a rampaging Shawn Porter in April 2014 and it happened so swiftly and savagely that no one could really tell if Paulie had finally hit the end. However, after he was battered by Danny Garcia this past August, it was clear that Paulie Malignaggi had grown old overnight.

Yet once again, and like so many other boxers who can’t let go, Paulie is still fighting but now the risk-reward is a dangerous one.

As Lou Catalano puts it in the Guardian, “The problem is that once a fighter goes to battle with nothing but heart, he gets hurt. The good news is that, despite being one of the more polarising figures in boxing social media, nobody can dispute the fact that he’s brilliant behind a microphone. He’s outstanding as Showtime’s expert commentator and he’ll be doing that for years to come.”

If Paulie should fight Branco and win, let’s hope it’s the final time. Channeling such an event into another world title fight is just plain dangerous. Khan and Hatton delivered sound beatings. Cotto, Porter and Garcia delivered horrific beatings.

Win the European title in Italy and then concentrate on being Showtime’s expert commentator.

That sounds like a plan.

Ted Sares is one of the world’s oldest active power lifters and holds several world and state records. He enjoys writing about boxing.

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  1. Tex Hassler 04:39pm, 10/16/2015

    Paulie has nothing left to prove. He should retire and look back on his career!

  2. KB 12:47pm, 10/13/2015

    Thanks for the visit Bikermike

  3. KB 12:08pm, 10/13/2015

    Paulie’s loss to Cotto made him. After that, he used a high win low KO percentage to turn himself into a fan favorite, Had nothing to do with his boxing ability and everything to do with his marketing ability and I mean that in a complimentary way.

  4. bikermike 12:05pm, 10/13/2015

    see…here’s how it goes…

    a young fighter…say..Malignaggie ..makes his mark in the ring…and continues to fight a SCHEDUAL ..series of match ups…

    Becomes a ‘name fighter’...
    Some would say protected..some would say otherwise….yet Malignaggie is still a draw…
    you tell me if he’s worthy

  5. KB 11:55am, 10/13/2015

    Yes Biker, and also Marciano, Jofre, Hagler, Ricardo Lopez, Monzon,  Steve Collins, and a few others.

  6. bikermike 11:50am, 10/13/2015

    Yes…Larry Holmes…

    I admired Holmes ....especially that Norton match…

    Kenny was determined…best shape of his life….Holmes was supposed to show just how Norton was the only one to Challlenge for TITLE….

    Holmes .....a poor boy from Easton….....beat Kenny Norton             and did it clearly

  7. kb 12:19pm, 10/10/2015

    CG, agreed before they both become “veal picata “

  8. KB 12:17pm, 10/10/2015

    A friend of mine Alessandro Fiorenza saw Paulie fight and said he looked ordinary in Milan, He got hit a lot. He also saw Branco fighting last year and said he’s shot. If only Malignaggi had a bit of power, he would annihilate Branco, instead he thinks it’s a 50/50 now.

    Good info

  9. Clarence George 12:16pm, 10/10/2015

    I, too, consider Jones superior, but Toney in his prime was hardly chopped liver, sticking with your culinary theme.  Malignaggi is on the same nose-dive trajectory, but he may pull up.  In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if he did.  Sooner rather than later (anyway, I hope) the stupidity of what he’s doing should hit home.

  10. kb 12:06pm, 10/10/2015

    One’s career looks like an inverted V if you will. That’s Toney and he is vegetable soup. jones’s ledger is looking more like a N.

    No comparison. I they fought today, Jones wins easily.

    But this is about PM and his seemingly nonsensical path to destruction.

  11. Clarence George 12:00pm, 10/10/2015

    In terms of their career choices and paths over the past several years.  One looks in the mirror and sees the other.

  12. KB 11:40am, 10/10/2015

    How can you compare Jones with Toney?

  13. Clarence George 10:23am, 10/10/2015

    I just don’t see how Jones beating a bunch of palookas enhances his reputation.  Quite the contrary, in fact.  His last win was against Eric Watkins.  Who?  The guy has a record of 12 wins, five by knockout, 10 losses, five by knockout, and two draws.  The kind of pug he was fighting, quite rightly, 25 years ago.  Remember Joe Edens?  Me neither.  In addition, one good punch could wreck him.  And, anyway, there’s no sign of him leaving the ring.  James Toney is another one.  He’s scheduled to fight a guy named Bahoeli, in his 30s and with about 15 fights to his name.  What’s next, a barroom-bouncer tournament?  Didn’t know how badly the Moyer brothers turned out.  Jeez.  I knew a boxer, whose name escapes me at the moment, who took a job as a bartender at the Plaza.  Was there for decades.  A smart cookie.

  14. KB 09:48am, 10/10/2015

    Big Wally, Thanks. You caught that eh?

  15. KB 09:47am, 10/10/2015

    With most humble and distinct respect, I must disagree with you on Jones .His 8-fight win streak has provided him with a way to go out with palpable dignity. Steve Collins and Tex Cobb did the same thing. If he mucks it up by fighting some Russian monster, all bets are off.

    The other variable here might be money and taxes, but that’s more likely in Jones’s case than it is in Paulie’s. Still, you have to wonder what wizards are advising these guys.

    Denny Moyer (97-38-4) died of complications from dementia pugilistica on June 30, 2010. He is featured in the stunning documentary, “After the Last Round.” Phil Moyer (28-9-1), who once beat Sugar Ray Robinson, is 75 and is totally incapacitated with the malady and remains in the same nursing home enshrouded in a fog of living death.

    Watch this Paulie:

  16. Big Wally 09:39am, 10/10/2015

    Neatly time article with Columbus day on Monday. Very shrewd and subtle.

  17. Clarence George 09:37am, 10/10/2015

    You’re right about Jones bringing more to the table.  Much more.  But I don’t think he’s anyone to emulate in this regard.  He hasn’t been in his prime since ladies wore opera gloves, and is both embarrassing and hurting himself at this point.  Paulie’s reasonably intelligent (despite agreeing with Mayweather on his TBE nonsense), but his thinking is really letting him down here.  I never met him, but I saw him once at a press conference.  He was sitting by himself in a profound pout.  Don’t know what that was about.  Lou DiBella went over to him and on his way back patted my tummy.

  18. kb 09:09am, 10/10/2015

    thanks biker. And Holmes, of course.

  19. bikermike 08:57am, 10/10/2015

    Nice read Ted….as usual.

    Hagler and Calzaghe left on time….Marciano did as well…..not too many other top fighters have left when they had gone as far and high as they could.

    It is a very difficult decision to make….and to keep.

    If the consequences for continuing on were not so dire….

    Too many are walking on their heels…or slurring their words…


  20. KB 08:14am, 10/10/2015

    Maybe he thinks he can find some kind of groove like Roy Jones Jr has but if so, it’s a bad calculation because Jones can still punch. PM never really could. Herat alone, which he has tons of, is not enough and ironically is the worse thing a shot fight can have. PM is caught in dangerous catch-22. He is very intelligent and should know this better than most.  Fight another Journeyman (not Branco), win, and then call it a day.

  21. Clarence George 08:04am, 10/10/2015

    Yeah, AW, I can’t fathom his reasoning.  Maybe he likes to box.  Maybe he’s fantasizing about championships.  But it really should be dawning on him that it’s past time to hang ‘em up.

  22. Aztec Warrior 07:55am, 10/10/2015

    C.G., my sentiments exactly. Given Paulie’s boxing knowledge inside and outside the ring, I’m a little surprised he’s continued fighting…even the easier fights. Like Ted mentioned, Paulie is outstanding behind the mike and will be doing that for years to come.  That is, if he doesn’t get hurt.

  23. Clarence George 07:49am, 10/10/2015

    Yeah, I can’t come across the name Luca (in any form) without thinking of Brasi.

  24. KB 07:45am, 10/10/2015

    Yes. Same one.

  25. Clarence George 07:41am, 10/10/2015

    You mean Luca Brasi (played by real-life mob muscle Lenny Montana)?  He was particularly fearsome in the (hugely overrated) book.

  26. kb 07:31am, 10/10/2015

    I quite agree CG. Branco is no sure thing—even though he has a name from one of the GodFather movies.. That’s for sure.

  27. Clarence George 07:24am, 10/10/2015

    I quite agree, except I don’t think Malignaggi should even fight Branco (despite the Italian not having stepped between the ropes for about a year).  I don’t blame Paulie for taking out Fazekas, following his loss to Garcia, thus going out on a win.  But go out he should, especially given his lucrative and otherwise rewarding career as a commentator.  His continuing to box doesn’t make any sense at all.

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