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May 27th
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Home Boxing Paul Malignaggi: “I really, truly believe I can stop Juan Diaz”
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Paul Malignaggi: “I really, truly believe I can stop Juan Diaz”

paul_malignaggiOn Saturday night, HBO’s “Boxing After Dark” (live from Houston, Texas’ Toyota Center) will feature three potentially exciting clashes when IBF 130-pound titlist Malcolm Klassen defends against former IBF featherweight titleholder Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero, undefeated, hard-hitting middleweight prospect Danny Jacobs faces Ishe Smith and former IBF junior welterweight titlist Paul “The Magic Man” Malignaggi challenges former WBA/IBF/WBO lightweight king Juan “Baby Bull” Diaz in an intriguing 12 round, catchweight battle that might decide both fighters’ immediate destinies.

Convicted Artist Magazine sat down with the Brooklyn-based Malignaggi, 26-2 (5), mere hours after the official weigh-in and gave his two cents on where he went wrong in his demoralizing loss to former THE RING magazine World Junior Welterweight Champion Ricky Hatton, biases in officiating and how to beat Diaz, himself. Read on, Howlers, for vintage Paulie: brash, outspoken, introspective and confident. Maybe even more so now than ever.

Coyote Duran: Do you feel any different coming in at 138 ¼ pounds?

Paul Malignaggi: I had to work a little harder because the thing about having to come in at 140 pounds is I’m already dried out. To lose an extra pound-and-a-half when I’m already dried out would feel to a normal person like losing ten pounds. It was a little bit if a process, I have to say. I haven’t worked that hard to make weight in a long time, believe me. It took a little more effort.

Coyote Duran: As a fighter who could probably compete as a junior lightweight, does Juan Diaz have a disadvantage coming in two pounds heavier than he’s used to against a lighter Paul Malignaggi?

Paul Malignaggi: Diaz is one of those guys that when you look at his physique, you might not think he was in shape but he’s probably one of the most well-conditioned fighters of today’s generation. I try not to look at any physical assets or lack thereof. At the end of the day, Diaz probably throws a lot more punches than most guys in or around our weight classes. That’s what I really have to look out for. He’s definitely not anything special but he comes in, he throws a lot of punches and he’s very busy.

Coyote Duran: Any idea how much weight you’ll put on before fight time?

Paul Malignaggi: I’ll probably be between 150 and 152 pounds.

Coyote Duran: At a catchweight, what does the winner gain as a result and why didn’t you both agree to come in at 140?

Paul Malignaggi: That’s his (Diaz’) team. They were just trying to throw in little daggers any which way they could because they have the pull being with Golden Boy Promotions. Anything advantages they could get, they tried to get and they tried to stack the deck. At the end of the day, I get Juan Diaz all to myself for 12 rounds and that’s what I look forward to, you know? The winner obviously propels himself to other fights; regardless if it’s a catchweight or not. This fight here is still a win over a critical opponent. Regardless, the winner gets catapulted into another fight on pay TV for good money and a credible opponent.

Coyote Duran: What’s your general opinion of Juan Diaz as a person and a fighter?

Paul Malignaggi: Juan’s a quiet guy. I mean, he’s not really a big talker. I don’t really have an opinion of him. Right now, he’s my opponent. Overall, Diaz is a regular guy.

Coyote Duran: What do you think you need to do to negate Diaz’ aggression?

Paul Malignaggi: I don’t think Diaz has ever fought someone who’s gonna make him miss like I’m gonna make him miss. When everything’s up to speed, I’m gonna make him miss and I’m gonna make him pay when I get off combinations and I move my hands. That’s really who Paulie Malignaggi is. Being that I’m back to doing a lot of the old things that I feel comfortable doing. I’m back to doing the things that come more natural to me as opposed to the things I was doing last year. I’m curious myself how he reacts to missing. Most of his fights, even if they weren’t punching bags, they were good fighters and they punched back at him, Diaz fought pretty stationary targets and he was able to get off as many punches as he liked.

Coyote Duran: With as natural as it is for you to carry left low, will you find it essential to change this Saturday night?

Paul Malignaggi: You know, it’s funny because my left is always low but my movement in the last couple of years I had to clean up because of my ex-trainer. He put me in a stance we called a “shell”. He liked that stance and out of a “shell”, you really can’t use your legs much because you’re too low or you’re too bent down so I had to get my legs out of the “shell”, you know? It worked against me, as far as having my hand low because my left hand works because of my fast legs, you know? So, I think having that back, I might have to change having my hand high or low but I don’t see Diaz having much success hitting me clean, you know? It’s gonna be 12 rounds and it’s gonna be a fight and he’s gonna land his share of punches as well as me. I’m gonna frustrate Juan Diaz tomorrow night.

Coyote Duran: Speaking of legs, Paulie, do you really think the 18-foot ring work against you especially since you work rather well on the inside?

Paul Malignaggi: It definitely doesn’t help but I’ll say this, when I’m on my rhythm, I also give off a lot of punches, you know? But that changes my rhythm that really ruined a lot of everything that worked well up to that point. Changing my rhythm hurts my punch output and hurts my defense and makes me an average fighter. If you remember, Coyote, when I was coming up, I threw a lot of combinations when I was healthier; when my hands were healthy. I threw fast combinations and good movement and a lot of times, I was getting off first. When I’m in shape and I’m sharp, I get off a lot of punches and I believe I’m in that kind of shape right now. It’s also gonna be a battle of pulling the trigger first and if I pull the trigger first, making sure I’m sharp and getting in and getting out.

Coyote Duran: We know that when Diaz bleeds, it seems to thoroughly shake his resolve. As a fighter who’s had his share of hand problems, could you possibly build up the accumulation of shots to actually cut Diaz?

Paul Malignaggi: I’m not sure but I think the whole “cut” thing is overblown, so to speak. Honestly, I don’t think he was gonna beat Nate Campbell and I don’t think he was gonna beat Juan Manuel Marquez. It just happened to be that he got cut in those fights also. But that’s a part of getting your ass whooped! And he got cut because he was already getting his ass whooped. More so in the Nate Campbell fight and the Juan Manuel Marquez fight. With Marquez, Marquez turned it around because Diaz was having a lot of success early but Campbell whooped his ass from pillar to post and just really tore him a good, old-fashioned ass-whoopin.’ But you know, they cut him in the process. I’m not so quick to judge the cuts as a reason for Diaz losing those fights. I really believe he was gonna lose those anyway. Honestly, if Acelino Freitas cut him, I still don’t think Freitas would’ve beat Diaz. If Julio Diaz cut Juan Diaz, I still don’t think Julio would’ve beaten Juan. Or Michael Katsidis, for that matter. I just think they happened to be the better opponents and while they were putting it on him, they just happened to cut him.

Coyote Duran: Why did you switch the type of glove you planned on using for the fight? The gloves you switched to (an Everlast “MX” model; more a “puncher’s glove ala Reyes brand) seem to be less protective (as opposed to the Everlast “Protex 3”)?

Paul Malignaggi: Yeah, yeah, you know, it’s funny because everybody expected me to us the more protective gloves. But my hands have been feeling very healthy. I can close and open them pretty freely, especially the right hand which sometimes, with all the problems I had, I hadn’t been able to open and close it the way I wanted to. But my hands feel good! And those gloves, when I tried them on, they felt really, really good as far as when I threw combinations, they flow very well. I felt everything come out real smooth on the transition from offense to defense. They might be a little un-protective but we’re gonna wrap the hands good. I think, ultimately, they’ll cause more damage also. It’s more of a puncher’s glove, which is funny because nobody expects me to use a puncher’s glove (laughs). It honestly feels more comfortable. I didn’t expect it to be more comfortable, myself, but when I tried it on just to give it a shot, I was like “Oh, wow, I actually like the way this feels!” I gave myself a second thought like “Do I really like the way these feel and fit?” But they really are good, man!

Coyote Duran: With the hometown crowd, referee Laurence Cole (who hails from Texas) and two out of the three judges at ringside being from Texas, do you think you have a fair shake at winning?

Paul Malignaggi: It’s funny because Dickie Cole is the (state) commissioner, who’s actually been nice all week. And I hope it’s been a “genuine” nice and not because they know they can f**k me. They’ve actually been super-nice and I didn’t expect it from them because I’ve been bashing everything leading up to his fight. I’ve been bashing everybody, the commission, Golden Boy Promotions and everything because I didn’t like the way I had been treated, you know? There’s an “A” side and a “B” side to all big cards and I’m the “B” side. I feel like I’ve been treated like a doormat. Everything they can be given an advantage with, they’ve given themselves and basically, I have to take it if I want the fight. But I feel confident and I need people to see me on national TV again. Unfortunately, man, fans are so fickle and the critics can be so fickle. They’ll judge me on the Hatton fight no matter what I’ve done before that. I needed a fight where everyone would see me so I had to take this chance because my performance will speak for itself. I really feel like I can beat Diaz so terribly to where if they rob me, it would be like a terrible tragedy; you know what I’m saying? And I also feel that, under the right kind of circumstances, I can also stop him and I haven’t felt like this in a long time. I don’t know if it’s the change in trainer because I’ve been in the gym all year. It took two years to really change me to a point where I felt that my arsenal was decimated but I also went back to doing things like I did for ten years prior to that. In eight or nine months working with my new trainer, I feel like I’m back to where I should be. I’m back to doing the things I was doing when I was coming up and I don’t think Juan Diaz can deal with that. I really think he’s gonna have a lot of trouble dealing with that. A lot of fighters have a lot of trouble dealing with that. I think, regardless of the judges, if I don’t stop him, hey… I told Dicky Cole publicly at the press conference and he promised me a fair shake. I said “Mr. Cole, I hope you’re right and I hope you’re telling the truth. If you are, then I owe you an apology and I’ll shake your hand.” And he said “All right.” And he’s been very nice so we’ll see.

But having said that, Raul Caiz Sr. is a judge from California but he’s been Golden Boy’s personal gopher. He had Chris John-Rocky Juarez (this past February) a draw. And Gale Van Hoy judged that fight a draw (Editor’s note: Judge Tom Miller also judged John-Juarez a draw). Just for the fact that they both judged that fight a draw, they both shouldn’t be allowed to judge. The judges should be put on a suspension list the way boxers are. And I feel like, after that fight, they both should’ve been unpaid or put on a six-month suspension or something like that. But that’s boxing and it’ll never get fixed. That’s why it’s corrupt. All the people in power are the ones who are corrupt. And both Gale Van Hoy and Raul Caiz will be judging this fight. I think they should not be judging it and put on suspension where they belong. But Caiz also goes along a little further. I said a few years ago when Zahir Raheem and Erik Morales fought each other. He’s the one who had it 115-113. The other two judges had it 116-112 (Dr. James Jen-Kin) and 118-110 (Julie Lederman) and that’s not just Morales is Mexican but because Raheem is a boxer and not only does Caiz lean toward the Mexican fighter but less toward the boxer, you know what I mean? But nobody would change the judges. I had to accept that. Caiz also refereed the Victor Ortiz fight against Marcos Maidana. Ortiz quit like a dog. What did Raul Caiz do? He actually had the presence of mind to grab Ortiz and take him to the doctor and make it look like he could get stopped for the cut. I mean, you have the crowd going crazy and you have Ortiz down, bleeding. Maidana had to go to his neutral corner and that instinct…he still had the presence of mind to protect Ortiz’ face…to “save face” for Ortiz. To me, that’s corrupt. This guy is Golden Boy’s personal gopher and he’s gonna be on the judge’s panel. So we’ll see. And Gale Van Hoy, I don’t think, has judged against a Texas fighter in his life, so here we go. We’ll let the performance speak and I really, truly believe I can stop Diaz. I think I’ll have my spots where Diaz is gonna catch it and catch it good and we’ll see if he takes it.

Coyote Duran: We saw “the old Paulie” against Chris Fernandez in April. How much of that was attributed to you or your new trainer Serif Younan; who’s relatively new to higher-profile training?

Paul Malignaggi: All of it is. All of it is. I’m not the kind of guy that you have to teach how to fight. That’s the good thing about my new trainer. We can change ideas and if not, he can teach me. Let’s say I don’t agree with something, he has the ability to mold himself for what I want sometimes. And I mold myself for what he wants because, at the end of the day, it’s all based on the speed and that’s what you have to base it on when you train me. You can’t base it on anything else. You can’t base it on “Stay low and move your head like Joe Frazier.” You know what I’m saying? Like my old trainer used to do. You have to base everything on speed. I’m a pure speed fighter. I don’t do things right! If you slow me down, I pay the price and you saw that in the past year. As soon as I start to slow down, all my mistakes become multiplied because I don’t do anything technically by-the-book. All my athleticism and speed helps me get away with a lot of mistakes and I think we’re on the same page with that, in terms that we base anything and everything off the speed. And the Fernandez fight, I think, showed that.

Coyote Duran: You make the best of it.

Paul Malignaggi: Yeah, yeah! You make the best of it! Exactly! The important thing is we’re on the same page. We’re working on all kinds of defense and transition, smoothly, back-and-forth, speed on defense, speed on offense. It’s back to basics, you know what I mean? And it was supposed to be like that the whole time and it’s a shame because 2008 was actually my lucrative year but not because of the performances. Because everything I had done prior to 2008 had set me up for a big year, financially. And it sucked to have to perform that way, after having worked all those years to put myself in position to have a big year like that and then have performances like that.

Coyote Duran: You’ve no shortage of heart, Paulie. In looking back to the Ricky Hatton fight and how it ended with but one round remaining, are there still bad feelings in how McGirt stopped it?

Paul Malignaggi: You know, everybody thinks I changed trainers because Buddy McGirt stopped the fight. I wanna clear this up because I really think that’s a big misconception. The reason I got rid of Buddy McGirt after the Hatton fight…obviously the stoppage of the fight I was very disappointed in, but I would’ve gotten over it had the stoppage been necessitated. More so than that, I got rid of Buddy McGirt because at the end of the Ricky Hatton fight, I just told myself I spent two years with this trainer and my entire arsenal has been decimated. Nothing that was taught to me was working and a lot of what I had done prior was taken out of my arsenal. So if you’re gonna teach me something at the expense of taking something else away, you’ve gotta make sure it works, man! Because, see, if you’re gonna take stuff away, you’ve gotta make sure what you’re adding works. What was being added was not working. What was being taken away had been working. Little by little, nothing. There was nothing going on there. And on November 22, everybody could’ve given Ricky Hatton the credit but, on November 22, anybody would’ve beaten Paulie Malignaggi because, to me, the two-year decimation process was complete. And everybody was looking in the wrong corner. Everybody was looking in the wrong corner. Everybody was saying “Look at (Hatton’s trainer Floyd) Mayweather Sr. What a big change in Ricky Hatton!” Everybody was looking in the wrong corner. The big change happened in Paulie Malignaggi and his corner.

And it wasn’t just the Ricky Hatton fight. I was slipping down the slope before that. In all of 2008, my performances were not on par. None of ‘em. The Ricky Hatton fight was just a culmination of it.

Coyote Duran: You’ve described Saturday night as “Judgment Day for Paulie Malignaggi.” Is this your way of saying that this is really a make-or-break fight?

Paul Malignaggi: I think so because I lost the Hatton fight but there was a general misconception of me. I had to have this card to break this misconception of me. I was just telling the HBO guys this morning at the fighters’ meeting, I said “I’d rather have no reputation than have a bad reputation.” Like when I was coming up and I was undefeated, there were a lot of questions about me. I was a hot shot. I was talking a lot of sh*t. I was happy-go-lucky, trash-talking and just going with it. Having a blast doing it and I was undefeated. Everybody used to say “When this kid fights somebody, he gonna catch it. He’s gonna get it.” I just had the confidence and because I was undefeated, they had to accept me for what I was. At the end of the day, I had no reputation so you had to keep accepting me for winning my fights. As opposed to now, I think the Ricky Hatton loss, even though I’m a totally different fighter from who I was in 2008, in general, will always be thrown in my face, no matter what I accomplish. People will always say “Well, Hatton dominated him.” That’s a shame because, to me, Hatton is not that good of a fighter. He’s got great people around him; some of the nicest people I’ve met in boxing, and it’s weird that I say that because I lost, like, every round in the fight, but if I’ve made myself clear in this interview, I don’t think much of Hatton. It was more of me that had been ruined in the Ricky Hatton fight. Because I also lost to Miguel Cotto, Coyote, in 2006. And I came out with a big respect for Miguel Cotto because, even thought there were some things in that scenario that could’ve been different, like a bigger ring or whatever, Miguel Cotto still did a lot of things that forced me into certain situations. He came as a fighter and that was what won that fight for him besides certain other things that cost me. So I can respect that.

They say that you can learn from losses. I learned a lot in the Cotto loss. The only thing that I learned in the Ricky Hatton loss is that I should’ve made a change earlier. There’s nothing to learn in that fight and that’s the terrible regret that I have. The change I made after the fight, I should’ve made sooner.

But prior to the Cotto fight, fans were just waiting for me to take that step. Then they were saying “Now, this kid is gonna get it.” But nobody wants to ever give me credit. They want to see me fight a top-notch fighter and get beat. Nobody, at that time, really realized how good Cotto was. Even myself. I knew Cotto was good. I knew Cotto was strong but I came out of that fight with a newfound respect for Miguel Cotto because he was more than just a guy who came forward and pressured. He actually is an intelligent pressure fighter, you know? It’s hard to see that, sometimes, from the outside. He seems pretty basic but there’s a lot of things Cotto does that are kind of tricky, man. He’s unbelievably strong. Unbelievably strong. He’s the only guy I fought in my entire career that, when he hit me, I had to say “Wow! This guy can hit!” Nobody, nobody, nobody and I mean nobody else I’ve fought can compare to that kind of power. Nobody. They can tell me all they want that Ricky Hatton hits hard. Ricky Hatton did not hit hard. Ricky Hatton hits like a regular 140-pounder; maybe a little harder than the average 140-pounder, which does not stand above and beyond and make you think “Wow!” Cotto made me say “Wow!” when he hit me.

Having said all that, I pick Cotto to knock (Manny) Pacquiao out in November. I picked Pacquiao to knock Hatton out. I came out of the Hatton fight having learned nothing and not really respecting Hatton or any of his abilities. As a person, I will always respect Ricky Hatton. But I picked him to get knocked out in the Pacquiao fight. I picked Cotto to knock Pacquiao out and a lot of people don’t think so.

Coyote has a block party to attend on the afternoon of the fight and is proud of the fact that, no matter how much hooch he pours down his muzzle, he still won’t gain 12-14 pounds in less than 24 hours like Paulie plans on doing. If you have a weight to unburden yourself with, please e-mail Coyote at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . You can also track Coyote at and or gaze at what he thinks are really pretty pictures at
But he doesn’t “Tweet.” Sorry.

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David wrote:
Last night my father who has followed boxing for 60 years watched the Diaz vs. Malignaggi fight. The fight was great with the exception that we both agreed that Diaz would not have won if it hadn't been for his ties with Golden Boy Promotions! Malignaggi handled Diaz just as as matador does a Baby Bull!

And kudos to both you and Dad, David! So, can you imagine how well Paulie would've done had Diaz NOT gotten all the provisions he asked for?...Hmmm...
David  - Diaz vs. Malignaggi |
Last night my father who has followed boxing for 60 years watched the Diaz vs. Malignaggi fight. The fight was great with the exception that we both agreed that Diaz would not have won if it hadn't been for his ties with Golden Boy Promotions! Malignaggi handled Diaz just as as matador does a Baby Bull!
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