SportsAngle catches up with Paulie Malignaggi and Lou DiBella

dibella_money Full transcripts – I thought they were too entertaining not to post in their entirety.

Paul Malignaggi

Having sat in the Garden for that Hamed-Kelley fight, how does it feel to be headlining an event here?

In general, to be able to fight in the Garden in a big fight, it’s a great experience. Words can’t describe it. I got the chance after a lot of people didn’t think I’d be on the stage again after losing to [Ricky] Hatton – that’s even bigger. It’s almost my redemption – in that way, my redemption will continue on May 15.

How important is it with new trainer Sherif Younan that you’re multidimensional, and what’s the difference between you now and four years ago?

Up close and personalI was always multidimensional, it’s just now I have a trainer that understands that and can work outside the box like I do, you know? He understands that he has a kid that he’s training that is very athletic and that can work on different things that maybe you can’t work on with other fighters. How am I different than four years ago? Basically the difference is I didn’t have Sherif training me, number 1, but also the experience, stuff like that. But from two years ago? There’s a major difference. Because four years ago, I was actually pretty good. And I went down for two years, and I went back up. So if you compare me to two years ago, it’s like night and day. Where in Sherif, I have a guy who thinks outside the box and can do a lot of things, and my old trainer [Buddy McGirt] basically didn’t know how to think outside the box, and in a lot of ways I hate to say it, I was too talented for someone like him to work with, he just could not understand the talent he was working with and what he managed to pull off was ruining a great fighter.

I follow your Twitter, it’s very entertaining. (PM: Oh, thank you!) What role did that play in getting this fight going? I remember back in December, you were calling him out, around Christmas you just popped up and started talking about it?

Yeah, it was back and forth on Twitter, and I think it had some effect on it, because just when negotiations were dead, I think the Twitter reignited the flame, you know? So I think the Twitter helped in a lot of ways. But also, just when you thought the fight was going to not be in New York at a certain point, I called his bluff on Twitter. He said, “Oh, I’m going to come to New York and knock Malignaggi out,” and all of a sudden they were trying to take the fight to Detroit, Golden Boy was, obviously. And I was like, “Oh really, they’re going to try to take the fight to Detroit and try to pull the rug out from under me? I’m not going to take this fight!” So I put it on Twitter and said, “Punk,” something like that, “you said you’re coming to New York to knock me out and you’re punking out already?” Within about two hours, I got a call from my promoter saying, “They’re coming to New York, you’re good.” (Laughing) So I don’t know if the Twitter did it, but it was kind of coincidental, you know?

When you were in the Garden watching the Hamed-Kelley fight, did you ever see yourself doing this? I mean, you’re a confident guy…

I wanted to! I said, “This is what I want.” Obviously, you don’t know how life is going to play out. I’m sure a lot of people want to be a pro athlete, they want to be actors, they want to be something – I’m sure not everybody goes and gets it. Some people cheat themselves by not putting in the work that they really should, you know? I knew I wanted it, and I knew how bad I wanted it, that I was willing to sacrifice everything and basically not cut corners. There was nothing I wasn’t willing to do to get there, you know? Especially after I saw that fight live that night. I said, “Wow, so this is what it’s like to be in the big time in this sport. I gotta have this. I gotta have this.” Especially since I had been already training about six months, I was enjoying my workouts, I was enjoying getting to do it. A lot of people do it for that much time and then they quit, but I was like, “I gotta have this, man. I know I’m just starting out, but I gotta have this.” All these years later, it’s kind of ironic, it’s funny… people talk about me now… I’ve already fought in the Garden. The same things went through my mind when I fought Miguel Cotto. I fought Miguel Cotto in the big arena, that’s where Hamed-Kelley was…

But that was his fight…

Yeah, it was his fight, but it still went through my mind like, “Wow, all those years ago I was looking at Hamed and Kelly going at it thinking I want to be here, and now I’m in this big arena in the main event.” Even though we’re in the Theater this time, it’s still going to be very cool and it’s still going to be very exciting, and when I think about it, it’s ironic, it’s funny. Because my career’s on the tail end of it now – I’m 29, I’m not 20, so all these years later…

I’m 30! How does that make me feel?

(Laughs) Well boxing is like, we’re not spring chickens, you know? It’s ironic, it’s funny, but I’m glad I’ve gotten to do it.


Lou DiBella

It seems like you and Paulie have always kind of had a special relationship. Would you characterize it as that? What have you seen in him?

I think we have a special relationship; it’s just sometimes we get on each other’s nerves. It’s a family, almost. I mean, he was living on his grandmother’s couch when he first came to my office, and he had only 35 to 40 amateur fights and won a national title. But people weren’t focused on him, they didn’t know who he was. Now I’m an Italian kid from Brooklyn. He’s an Italian kid from Brooklyn. You know, there was that draw. The other thing is that my grandparents were immigrants. My parents were really first-generation. And my Amusedgrandparents were born in Italy, spoke Italian, the whole bit, we’re very Italian. Paulie had much more than immigrant experience, and it sort of drew me to him because he’s like a throwback to my family years ago. And his grandparents are Italian speakers, and his dad lives in Italy, he’s a soccer player. I was drawn to his experience, his life experience, and I was drawn to his enthusiasm. I mean, he has desperately wanted to be a star from the time he was 19 years old. And I remember when he had that horrible performance against Hatton, which really, he didn’t show up mentally that night. It was a bad night for him. Everyone has a bad night. Unfortunately, his bad night was in a big fight. Later that night, and he cried and he cried, he was so upset, and I think it’s because his great dream was to be in the Hall of Fame, not just a champion. And he realized something remarkable would have to happen in the future for that to happen. You know what? He’s getting an opportunity right now. On May 15, if he can knock Amir Khan off the pedestal, and after those two great performances with Juan Diaz, he’s set up maybe with a couple more wins to realize his dream, to get into the Hall of Fame. Certainly, to be a star in the sport. This is New York, and currently he’s the fighter to carry that New York mantle. Danny Jacobs, coming up behind him, a young fighter that hopefully will take that mantle in the future. But Paulie right now is the elite New York fighter. This is his opportunity.

How do you feel Paulie’s style matches up with Khan?

I always joke with him that he can’t break an egg, that he’s not a puncher. But speed to some extent is power. And when guys fight Paulie, and he’s himself, a guy will look marked up after the fight, because he’ll have leather landing on him regularly. He just doesn’t have that kind of punch to turn a fight with one punch. What differentiates Khan and makes him dangerous is that I don’t think Khan has quite the boxing ability as Paulie, but Khan can turn a fight with one punch. I think Khan was drawn to Paulie as an opponent because Khan’s biggest Achilles’ heel is his chin, and Paulie’s biggest weakness… is his punch.

That’s exactly what Paulie said. And I thought it was great in the Diaz fight when he really hurt him, and the most surprised guy in the whole place was Paulie!

That’s because he’s got uncanny speed and tremendous ring generalship. Paulie understands how to move around the ring, and he understands angles. He’s a boxer and he’s not a puncher, but he’s not a runner. I don’t like runners, I can’t watch a guy that runs and is in retreat the whole fight. Paulie’s not in retreat, he’s just trying to not let you hit him. He’s giving you angles, he’s moving around you, he’s moving in and out, he’s weaving. He’s a scientist… but not a coward. That’s what makes him fun to watch.

When he goes off at the mouth a little bit…

When he goes off, I mean, I sometimes… like, I tremor! He goes off and I’m sitting there shaking my head…

It’s mostly endearing, though.

Yeah! It’s mostly endearing, but he says certain things, and then people hold me accountable for things that Paulie says. I can’t control Paulie’s month. I mean, I’ve given up a long time ago censoring Paulie Malignaggi.


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