NEW YORK — Three thoughts on Paulie Malignaggi’s unanimous decision win over Zab Judah:
This was all Paulie. Billed as the Battle of Brooklyn, Malignaggi dominated. In a battle of two fading former titleholders, Malignaggi, 33, appeared to have far more left in the tank than Judah, 36. Malignaggi boxed well, moving in and out, peppering Judah with shots, landing 36 percent of his punches (220 of 607) to Judah’s 24 percent (121 of 498). Save for a questionable second-round knockdown, Malignaggi was in complete control.
The three judges scored it 116-111, 117-110, 117-110. SI.com scored the fight 117-110 for Malignaggi.
A prevailing storyline coming into the night was that Malignaggi wasn’t interested in fighting anymore, that he was ready to move full time onto his next career as a commentator for Showtime and Fox Sports. But Malignaggi was the more engaged fighter on Saturday, refusing to back down. Malignaggi is in the winter of his career, no question. But it doesn’t look like he is ready to retire just yet.
“This definitely allows me to continue boxing,” Malignaggi said. “With a loss, I don’t know if I would have wanted to continue.”
Malignaggi has options. Golden Boy has a deep stable of fighters at 147 pounds, and with Saturday’s win Malignaggi put himself in the mix for fights with all of them. Shawn Porter, who upset Devon Alexander on the undercard to win the IBF welterweight title, is a possibility. And next weekend features a pair of appealing 147-pound fights in Adrien Broner-Marcos Maidana (Malignaggi says he wants the winner) and Keith Thurman-Jesus Soto Karass. There is also Danny Garcia, who appears headed out of the 140-pound division.
It’s amazing, really, that Malignaggi (33-5) is still a legitimate factor. Three years ago Malignaggi’s career appeared over after a bad loss to Amir Khan. He talked of fighting in Europe, while his then-promoter, Lou DiBella, suggested he get into broadcasting. Yet here Malignaggi is, outlasting the bigger punchers, fighting on longer than some bigger names. It is quite an accomplishment.
Bad Zab. There is an oft-used phrase among people who have been associated with Judah’s career: You just never know which Zab you are going to get. Some nights, Judah is as tough as any fighter in his class, a sweet blend of speed and power. On others, he can appear disengaged, disinterested and be totally outclassed. On Saturday, we saw more of the latter. Before the fight, Judah promised to go after Malignaggi, spouting that he had no fear of Malignaggi’s power. What we got was a tentative jab, one outboxed a out power-punched (98-54) by a lighter puncher.
“It just wasn’t there,” Judah said.
Judah’s career can continue — Golden Boy’s aforementioned stable needs opponents, and Judah (42-9) still draw decent ratings on the network and helped draw a reasonable 9,363 to the Barclays Center — and it probably will. But his days as a legitimate threat at either 140 or 147 pounds are probably over.
– By Chris Mannix, SI