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Home Boxing Self Fulfilling Prophecies, Boxing Judges, and Paulie Malignaggi
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Self Fulfilling Prophecies, Boxing Judges, and Paulie Malignaggi

paulie_malignaggiThis past Saturday gave boxing fans yet another controversial decision in a city known for controversial decisions.  Paulie Malignaggi looked better than he had in a number of fights, but when the final scorecards were tallied, opponent Juan Diaz walked away with a decision that left many wondering if it would have been the same result had it been someone other than Diaz’s hometown of Houston.  In order of absurdity, Judge Gale Van Hoy scored it 118-110, David Sutherland scored it 116-112, and Raul Caiz scored it a more respectable 115-113, all in favor of Diaz.

Now here is the issue when boxing media and fans call any fight a robbery.  Watching that fight three times you can come up with three different outcomes, Malignaggi-win, draw, or Diaz-win.  By crying robbery it puts Diaz in the position of a bad guy, when in reality he fought a good fight, and showed a bit of redemption after losing two out of his last three fights prior to Saturday night.  His first loss was against Nate Campbell, a split decision loss, but his second loss was to the hands of Juan Manuel Marquez.  That fight made it seem like Diaz may consider retirement, but he got beat up and bloodied, and TKO’ed in the ninth round.  Both of those opponents are future hall of famers, but many thought because of the beatings Diaz took in those fights he might not have much left.

For all the redemptive qualities you can say regarding Diaz, you can multiply those sentiments by 100 when it comes to Paulie Malignaggi.  Malignaggi gained a lot of fans by showing his heart by lasting 12 rounds with Miguel Cotto in June 2006, but since then he had looked rather pedestrian until Saturday.  A pair of unanimous decisions over Herman Ngoudjo and Lovemore N’Dou (for the second time) didn’t do anything to raise Malignaggi’s stock.  Those wins earned him a date with then Welterweight kingpin Ricky Hatton.  After 11 rounds of one-sided action Ricky Hatton stopped Malignaggi, and as well as any momentum his career may have had.  Many fans of Malignaggi, and later Malignaggi himself, blamed then trainer Buddy McGirt for turning him into a more stationary fighter, instead of using his legs, something that made him successful before.  Making Malignaggi a stationary fighter doesn’t make sense, considering he’s broken his right hand nine times since he was an amateur. 

Prior to the fight Malignaggi said numerous times he was going to surprise those that had given up on him, because under the tutelage of his new and relatively unknown trainer, Sherif Younan, he was back to his old self.  Most were a bit hesitant to jump back on his bandwagon after the Hatton fight, but many of those same people also agreed that if he were to get back to using the ring and his speed then he would probably have an improved performance.  But, before we could even see if Malignaggi had indeed improved, he seemed to have had the outcome of the fight in his head days before the fight.

Malignaggi sort of fulfilled his own prophecy when he complained about the ref of the fight, Laurence Cole, and two of the judged Gale Van Hoy and Raul Caiz, because of being based out of Houston.  I can’t imagine going into a fight already having the feeling that you are going to get robbed.  In his head that’s exactly what happened, and during the post fight interview with HBO’s Max Kellerman he didn’t mince any words.  He said boxing is corrupt, the judging is corrupt, and with that loss he had now become little more than a challenger and because of that he’ll keep being asked to go to fighters hometowns and continue to lose because of corrupt judges.  The first two parts of his rant it’s hard not to agree with, but the parts he said about himself being just a challenger now I don’t.

Before he even said those words I was thinking that this is one of those rare moments in sports where you win by losing.  Sure, at the end of the day you want your hand raised in victory, but because he looked good in losing, and drew the emotion of his fans who agree that he was robbed he may now hold a higher status in the world of boxing than he ever has.  In a wide open division he has as much of claim to big fights as any other fighter, and with his performance on Saturday night, he earned another shot at a big fight.  In other words, Malignaggi isn’t going to be fighting in any country fairs anytime soon.

One has to wonder if Malignaggi knew what he was doing when he went off during the post fight interview.  Malignaggi is a bright man, and must known that claiming or creating a controversy is definitely one way to keep your name in the spotlight, especially in the world of boxing.  Do I think Malignaggi was legitimately mad? Yes.  Do I think he knew he had to make a big splash to continue to have his name near the top of the elite in the sport, especially after another loss?  Also, yes.

Again, Malignaggi made some points that should be examined.  Why does a fight in a city have to have even one judge, let alone two, score a fight in their home city for their home fighter?  If we’re going to say an American can’t go to Germany and win a decision against a German fighter with German judges the same has to be said about fights held in America.  For years boxing writers and fans have tried to find ways to make the sport better.  Let’s face it – it’s hard for any sport to be considered mainstream when the people determining the winner have nothing to do with the fight itself.  I am not against judging but I am against the way they do it.  Boxing could have a pool of judges for all major fights (determining what a major fight is could be a task in itself) so that you can get three neutral judges for these types of fights.  I also think boxing could have more than three judges.  Why not 5, 7, or even ten?  Also, I have been intrigued with the thought of an “overtime period” in boxing.  I don’t understand why it takes so long to tally up the scores at the end of the fight.  In theory, they could do their scores on a computer and virtually one second after the final round is scored they would know the outcome of the fight?  What’s stopping boxing from doing this?  If they did this, the fighters would still be “fight ready” if they were told it’s a draw and they are going to fight one, two, or three more rounds to determine the winner.  The topic of boxing judging could fill a book, let alone this paragraph in my story, but the fact remains that boxing judging needs to be changed, and that was known well before Malignaggi’s outburst this Saturday. 

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