By Chris Cella
Leading up to tomorrow’s WBA World Welterweight Title fight between belt holder Paulie “The Magic Man” Malignaggi and Adrien “The Problem” Broner, there has been no shortage of trash talking or drama.
From when mentions of the fight first materialized months ago, the two boxing champions began their verbal quarrel, and it only progressed in weeks leading up to the showdown tomorrow night.
In Malignaggi’s backyard of Brooklyn, from the Barclays Center, Malignaggi (32-4, 7 KO) will seek the third defense of his WBA welterweight title as he goes to battle with undefeated Broner (26-0, 22 KO).
In Broner’s last fight he defended his WBC Lightweight Title against Gavin Rees before moving up two weight classes to face Malignaggi.
Outside of the ring the two champions are two of boxing’s most vocal fighters, but inside the ropes bring two very contrasting styles which should make for an interesting showdown.
If the heat that has been overflowing from each interview and press conference carries into the ring tomorrow night, fight fans should be in for a treat.
This isn’t Malignaggi’s first rodeo, and he is used to the pre-fight drama and gamesmanship that accompanies boxing, and when the bell sounds to commence round one tomorrow night, he will be undoubtedly be focused and ready to defend his title and silence Broner.
“Mentally I’ve been in a place where I wanted to be for the entire (training) camp,” Malignaggi told Showtime during Thursday’s press conference. “There’s going to be a lot of surprised people on Saturday night. They shouldn’t be—if they know anything about boxing—they wouldn’t be. But they will be.”
Despite Paulie holding the belt, Broner is coming in a heavy favorite. He has shown through the first 26 fights of his young career his ability to hurt fighters over a course of several rounds and break them down, landing shot after shot. But at the same time there have been several questions about the level of his opponents and how he would fare against a more skilled competitor.
Malignaggi has never been known for his power—he will be the first to admit that. But he is one of the most technically sound boxers out there, and in recent wins has done a solid job of battering his opponents through the 12-round fight, leaving them exiting the ring quite beaten down.
The questions surrounding tomorrow’s title fight are how Paulie will handle Broner’s speed and power, and in turn, how Broner will handle Malignaggi’s elusiveness and quick feet while never backing down?
Experience is clearly on the side of the Brooklyn born fighter, who has gone to battle with several former world champions, including Miguel Cotto, Amir Khan and Ricky Hatton, to name a few. But in each of those bouts he came up on the short end.
Broner has made his run at being a champion look easy, picking apart opponents and imposing his power and size on them until they are unable to continue. Though a big chink in Broner’s game is his inability to hit and not get hit back. Boxers have been able to land clean shots on the undefeated lightweight champion, and even though Malignaggi doesn’t have the power to end the night with one shot, if he is able to land one or two punches out of each flurry, the punishment will certainly accrue through each round.
At the age of 26 Broner has been compared to Floyd Mayweather Jr., mainly in part due to his speed, cockiness and the way he handles himself outside of the ring. But if he loses to Malignaggi tomorrow night in his first welterweight fight, no comparisons of any kind will mean anything. Broner is confident he has the tools and the game plan to go in and be victorious, adding another belt to his collection.
“He’s (Malignaggi) taken everything personal as you can see,” Broner said in Thursday’s press conference. “I didn’t try to get under anyone’s skin. He was very angry. He was red hot. Everybody knows you can’t go into a fight hot like that. You’ll get burned out.”
Both champions have been successful in building the hype for this fight and getting fans excited with their seemingly never-ending trash talking, but when the title fight begins tomorrow night, it will be about who is the more skilled pugilist, and who wants it more.
Actions gets started live on Showtime tomorrow night at 9 p.m. Eastern.