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Paulie Malignaggi

Nickname – The Magic Man
Height – 5-8 ½     
Weight – 147 (Welterweight)
Date of Birth – November 23, 1980
Hometown – Brooklyn, NY

Pro Record – 33-6 (7 knockouts)
 
Brooklyn native Paul “The Magic Man” Malignaggi is a proud Italian-American who plans on continuing a strong boxing tradition established by Willie Pep and carried on by Rocky Marciano, Jake LaMotta, Rocky Graziano, Carmen Basilio and Vinny Paz.

Paulie, as he is affectionately known, was born in Brooklyn, December 23rd, 1980, but moved to Siracusa, Sicily, when he was a few months old. He stayed in Sicily until he was six. When his family moved back to America, Malignaggi only spoke Italian, but picked up the English language quickly. When he was 16, Malignaggi was thrown out of high school. He was living with his grandparents at the time, and his grandfather took him to the gym to see if it would keep Paulie out of trouble.

"I ended up loving the gym and have been there ever since." Malignaggi said. "I still remember my first day there. It was June 26, 1997. I remember training with my old trainer, Willie Badillo. He was teaching me a jab and right hand in front of the mirror, but throwing them really slowly to get the form down correctly. I started with a good foundation. I wrapped my hands and thought it looked so cool."

As an amateur, Malignaggi won the 1998 and 2001 New York Golden Gloves Amateur Championship, as well as the 2001 United States National Amateur Championship. Malignaggi also won the 2001 Everlast U.S. Championships on March 13-17, 2001 in Colorado Springs, Colo.

The "Magic Man" made his professional debut at age 20 on July 7, 2001, and scored afirst-round knockout over Thadeus Parker in Brooklyn. He won four more professional fights before his rookie campaign came to an end, including two by knockout. In 2002, Malignaggi went seven-for-seven in the ring, including a second-round TKO over Anthony Simpkins on Aug. 30 in New York City.

"I learned when I sit down on my punches, I do have some power there," Malignaggi said after the fight. "I just have to keep doing that. I have a tendency sometimes to use my legs a little too much. I kind of stayed calm against Simpkins."

He finished 2002 by defeating Paul Delgado across eight rounds on Nov 23 in Atlantic City. Despite tearing the ligaments in his right hand during the fight, Malignaggi won the split decision 78-74, 79-73 and 75-77.
Malignaggi did not fight for nearly seven months. However, when he returned on June 3, 2003, in Uncasville, Conn., the unbeaten boxer won a six-round unanimous decision over Shad Howard. Malignaggi sent Howard to the canvas in the third round and won by the scores 60-52 (twice), 60-53.

Less than two months later on Aug 1, 2003, Malignaggi entered the ring against Kevin Watts in Red Sox country waving a New York Yankees flag with a Yankees emblem sewn on his trunks. Despite the unfriendly surroundings, Malignaggi scored a sixth-round TKO in Hampton Beach, N.H. The "Magic Man" dominated the fight by maintaining a busier pace and landing sharper punches. After scoring two knockdowns in the sixth round, the referee stopped the contest. Malignaggi put Watts flat on his back for the initial time with a series of right hands. The decisive knockdown came as Watts stuck his tongue out at Malignaggi. The Yankees fan promptly landed two right hands that had Watts flat on his face. "I am a Yankees fan," Malignaggi said afterward. "I knew I was going to be hated. Watts' fans were booing me. All his fans came up from Boston."

On Oct 24, 2003, Malignaggi fought closer to home in Bronx, N.Y., and earned an eight-round unanimous decision over Jesus Santiago. Malignaggi finished strongly in the last two rounds, and won by scores 79-73, 78-74 and 77-75.

Malignaggi completed a third consecutive perfect campaign on Dec 6, 2003, with an eight-round unanimous decision over Delgado on the Vitali Klitschko-Kirk Johnson undercard at Madison Square Garden in New York. Despite injuring his right hand again, Malignaggi won by the scores 80-72, 79-73 (twice). "With the first right hand I threw in the eighth, I hurt my hand and basically just danced with Delgado for the remainder of the round," Malignaggi said.

Malignaggi then tallied a 10-round unanimous decision over a game, but outgunned Rocky Martinez on April 22, 2004, in New York. From the outset, Martinez had no real answer for Malignaggi's speed. The up-and-coming New Yorker easily won the first and second rounds with a crisp, quick jab and decent combinations to the body. Martinez' nose began to bleed in the seventh, and worsened in the eighth. Malignaggi took the last two rounds en route to nearly shutting out Martinez. The judges scored the bout 99-91 (twice) and 98-92.

Ramiro Cano, Sandro Casamonica, Jeremy Yeltona and Donald Camarena all were defeated at the hands of the Magic Man, but on June 10, 2006, Malignaggi faced the 25 year old, undefeated, junior welterweight champion Miguel Cotto in Madison Square Garden. Malignaggi was down in the 2nd round and lost in a grueling 12 round contest resulting in a unanimous decision win for Cotto and was left with a swollen right cheek bone, a bleeding nose, and a cut around the left eye. Malignaggi, with his first loss, took it well, and he gained a lot of respect in this fight, as he showed the character and heart that would one day make him a champion.

On February 17, 2007, Malignaggi headlined HBO’s Boxing After Dark at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City. In his first fight back after his courageous battle against Cotto, Malignaggi scored a unanimous decision against the tough Edner Cherry. Malignaggi proved to fans that he was back on track to winning a world title.

On June 16th at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT, Malignaggi put on the best performance of his career, defeating Lovemore N'dou and capturing the IBF Junior Welterweight title on HBO’s Boxing After Dark series. The "Magic Man" set the tone early, snapping stiff left jabs followed by lightning quick combinations.  The flurries of punches took a toll on N'dou and in round 9 he was dropped to the canvas by a straight right from Malignaggi. Malignaggi dominated from opening to closing bell to score a decisive, unanimous decision victory. In winning his first world title Malignaggi showed that speed does indeed kill. 
 
On January 5, 2008 at Bally’s Resort and Casino in Atlantic City, NJ, Malignaggi successfully defended his IBF Junior Welterweight Title winning a unanimous 12-round decision over the very tough and talented Herman Ngoudjo (16-2, 9 KO’s).
 
Next up for Malignaggi on May 24th, 2008 was a Lovemore N’dou rematch, this time on N’dou turf at the City of Manchester Stadium in Manchester, Lancashire, United Kingdom.  Malignaggi again proved he was the champ and beat N’dou in a twelve round decision.
 
Malignaggi then decided to vacate the title that he worked so hard for to take a fight with Ricky Hatton for the IBO junior welterweight title.  A heartbroken Malignaggi was TKO’d in the 11th round in a controversial stoppage from his corner that shocked and upset the gallant Malignaggi, who desperately wanted to continue fighting.
 
The Hatton loss hit the prideful Malignaggi hard. Turning off his cell phone and spending long days intentionally in solitude, Malignaggi searched his soul for answers and purpose.  After facing his demons and thinking long and hard, a better Malignaggi finally began to emerge.  He found many answers that he was looking for about life.  He also found answers regarding boxing and decided to switch trainers and his future fight game plans.
 
“I used to love boxing,” said Malignaggi.  “I used to love my old style- fast and always moving, dancing, and enjoying it.  I decided I would never try to change for anyone again.  That I had to find my old style again, bring it back, and make it better than ever before.”
 
According to Malignaggi he also changed his viewpoint on why he boxed.  “I used to box for fame and attention,” said Malignaggi in retrospect.  “I want to continue to box.  But for different reasons.  I want to box for the financial safety of my future family, which I can’t wait for.  I want to find a wife I love and have beautiful kids to take care of- I never thought I would say that- all I ever cared about was clubs and cars and having fun with my friends, living the life.  But it was to fill an emptiness I realize now- because I came from a broken family and experienced a lot of hurt...but now I am ready to reverse that.”
 
Malignaggi took a tune up fight with game opponent Chris Fernandez on April 25th, 2009 at Foxwoods Resort and Casino in Connecticut.  Like he had vowed, the old Paulie was back and better than ever, with blinding hand speed and footwork reminiscent of an intricate dance. Malignaggi made the ring seem like a giant checkerboard as he went to work on the headstrong Fernandez.  Malignaggi walked away with the unanimous decision in a shutout of Fernandez, a tough opponent who throughout the fight and after was completely star struck by his opponent.
 
“Wow, Malignaggi was so quick, I couldn’t see anything coming,” said Fernandez in the locker room after the fight.  “He was so unbelievably fast.”
 
In April 2009 Malignaggi was cast in a Nintendo commercial for Wii’s new version of Punch Out!!  Malignaggi was chosen for the coveted role of ‘Lil Mac. The fictional character of Lil Mac originated in the 1980’s, and is old time favorite that bring up feelings of nostalgia for old fans of the video game.  A small scruffy Italian from Brooklyn that fights his way up to a title then loses it in tragic fashion and now back for a second shot, Lil Mac is an underdog that won hearts all over the world.  
 
In August, 2009 Malignaggi stepped away from the gaming console, and got back to the business in the ring, taking on former unified lightweight champion, Juan Diaz in Diaz’s hometown, Houston, TX. For the better part of twelve rounds, Malignaggi used his sharp boxing skills to keep Diaz at bay, and at the end of the night almost everyone watching, including HBO’s unofficial judge Harold Lederman, had the “Magic Man” pulling the upset. However, all three judges scored the bout for Diaz, which included an unfathomable 118-110 scorecard turned in by Judge Gale Van Hoy.
 
The outrage of the decision spread like wildfire throughout the boxing community.
 
“Excellent fight, terrible decision,” wrote Dan Rafael of ESPN.com. “…Texas judge Gale Van Hoy, who has a history of shaky scorecards favoring the hometown fighter, turned in a wretched scorecard that defies logic -- 118-110 for Diaz? Why even bother watching the fight?”
 
“Malignaggi redeemed himself with a tactful, hard-fought effort against Diaz that should have earned him a victory -- or at least a moral victory in a close loss,” said Mitch Abramson of the New York Daily News. “Instead, fighting in Diaz's hometown, Malignaggi dropped a unanimous decision by a wide margin that should call into question the integrity of the judging and further alienate fans from the sport.”
 
However, with the controversy came demand for a rematch, and both Malignaggi and Diaz stepped up the plate to make it a reality December 12, 2009 at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago, Illinois.
 
In the rematch, Malignaggi got his revenge. Using his jab all night, he kept the typically ultra-active Diaz at bay. In round 10, Malignaggi scored a knockdown on an uppercut to put an exclamation point on a dominant performance. And in this contest the judges had no problems, with all three scoring the bout 116-111 in favor of Malignaggi.
 
Almost immediately after Malignaggi had left the ring in Chicago with the victory, the boxing world began to clamor about a potential showdown with WBA champion, Amir Khan, who just one week earlier had stopped Dmitriy Salita in one round.
 
With both men understanding the potential for a mega event, they agreed to a May 15, 2010 bout at the Theatre at Madison Square Garden. With Malignaggi’s boisterous New York City fanbase, and Khan sure to bring many fans from his home in the United Kingdom, the fight promised to produce fireworks inside the ring, and an electric atmosphere outside of it.
 
And it did, but in the end, after a courageous effort, Malignaggi was stopped in the 11th round by the young champion from England.
 
Disappointed, but not ready to be counted out, Malignaggi regrouped, decided to jump to the welterweight division, and after signing a promotional contract with Golden Boy Promotions and moving his training camp out west, he got back on track on December 18, 2010 with a sixth round stoppage of Michael Lozada, Malignaggi’s first knockout win since August of 2003.
 
Rejuvenated, Malignaggi got 2011 off to a great start in his April 9th bout in Las Vegas against Jose Miguel Cotto, as he scored a near shutout unanimous decision win over the longtime contender, and he kept the momentum going with a near shutout win over tough Orlando Lora on October 15th.
 
But the biggest victory was yet to come, as Malignaggi traveled to Donetsk, Ukraine to fight and beat hometown favorite Vyacheslav Senchenko via ninth round TKO to win his second divisional world title on April 29, 2012.
 
Now the WBA world welterweight champion, Malignaggi successfully defended his belt for the first time on October 20 of last year with a split decision win over Pablo Cesar Cano, and though he lost the title to Adrien Broner by way of a close split decision on June 22, 2013, he will return to his hometown of Brooklyn, New York on December 7 to battle for local bragging rights with longtime superstar Zab Judah.