IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve had an affinity for Paulie Malignaggi ever since I interviewed him back in 2004 at a press conference and informed him that I was a better fighter than he was. I couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t help it! The guy was so brash at such an early stage in his career, and yet completely insistent that he was the best boxer from New York. I wanted to push his buttons a little.
Luckily, the Brooklynite was as good-natured as he was loquacious, as we shared a good laugh and Ã¢â‚¬â€œ thank God! Ã¢â‚¬â€œ he declined to test my pugilistic abilities. (The only fights I have are with my landlady over how high to raise the thermostat)
WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been advocates of Paulie Malignaggi for over five years here, even interviewing him for the previous iteration of SportsAngle.com. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a likable kid, very funny and cocky, but prideful and devoted to his craft, with jabs as fast as his quips.
Who knew heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d be such a strong voice in calling out whatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s wrong with boxing?
Malignaggi fought Houston native Juan Diaz in DiazÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s own city last Saturday night, and essentially acknowledged before the fight that he was going to get a raw deal. Contractually forced to make a catch weight lower than he was used to and fight in a smaller ring that limited his greatest advantage, his speed and elusiveness, Malignaggi made no secret about the fact that he didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t expect the opportunity to actually win the fight by decision. Essentially, the deck was stacked against him.
His one saving grace was a promise that the fight would be officiated fairly and that the judges would be a varied panel and not just hometown stooges. But as Malignaggi found when he got to Houston, the referee was the son of Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation official Dickie Cole, and the judges included biased Texan Gale Van Hoy, Oklahoman David Sutherland, and Raul Caiz Sr., who Malignaggi called Ã¢â‚¬Å“a gofer for Golden Boy and a guy whoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s biased in favor of Mexican-American fighters.Ã¢â‚¬Â