Paulie Malignaggi ready to retire after loss to Danny Garcia
Bensonhurst Boxer Ready to Call it Quits After Barclays Center Defeat
Paulie “The Magic Man” Malignaggi’s career as a professional fighter more than likely ended right where it began Saturday night.
“I’m probably not fighting again,” the 34-year-old Bensonhurst native painfully admitted moments after his ninth-round TKO loss to unbeaten Danny “Swift” Garcia at Downtown’s Barclays Center.
“You hate to make an emotional decision,” added Malignaggi, who dropped to 33-7 across a 14-year ring career that included a pair of world championships.
“My career started in Brooklyn [at Coney Island’s MCU Park] 14 years ago. If it ends in Brooklyn tonight, then at least I ended it at home where I’m from and in front of the greatest fans in the world.”
Known just as much for his gift of gab as his ring acumen, Malignaggi proved no match for the younger, stronger Garcia, who dominated at least seven of the first eight rounds before referee Arthur Mercante halted the bout 2:22 into the ninth.
“I’ve got a really good job commentating and watching great fighters fight ringside,” Malignaggi said of his ongoing gig as a SHOWTIME analyst. “I hope to sit around ringside for a long time. I felt like if I couldn’t put up a great performance tonight then it would be my last.
“I was trying to hang tough as much as I could,” he added. “I remember when I was taking big shots I just kept thinking ‘Don’t give in. This is your last night if you give in. Don’t show that you’re going to give in. If you can show that you’re still hungry for it then you’ll convince yourself that this isn’t the end.’ I wanted to keep showing that I want it. Little by little he broke me down, and I have no problem with the stoppage.”
Bloodied under his right eye, Malignaggi stood in the center of our borough’s new mecca for boxing, and humbly acknowledged that Garcia (31-0, 18 KOs) was the better fighter after the 27-year-old Philadelphia native shined in his welterweight debut and improved to a perfect 5-0 at Barclays Center.
“I think Danny can be an upper echelon fighter, he already is,” noted Malignaggi, who will doubtlessly be calling some of Garcia’s upcoming bouts from his announcer’s perch along the ropes. “He can put his name in the history books. He has a lot of talent. People don’t realize he has a lot of character too. He has a very good poker face. He doesn’t get frustrated, and if he does he doesn’t show it to you.”
“Paulie is a great champion,” said Garcia, who joined his father/trainer, Angel, in embracing Malignaggi following the bout. “He’s a crafty veteran with a great jab and foot movement. But I went in there and executed the game plan.”
Malignaggi’s game plan, one that included an upset win and a possible Hall of Fame-worthy ending to his successful career as a pugilist, never came to fruition despite a pro-Paulie crowd that rocked the Barclays.
Garcia dictated the pace throughout and landed a bevy of hard lead rights and left hooks, but ultimately outmatched Malignaggi, who had his right eye busted open in the fourth round.
“I was trying to take a bit of his confidence,” Malignaggi explained. “He was walking me down fairly well behind the jab. He cut me in the fourth and I think that upped his confidence. I never could get control of the pace though. In spots I felt I was giving up less ground and I had him missing. He got back on his groove though and he had a strong advantage.”
While Malignaggi ceded that his career had likely come to a close almost a decade and a half after his first-round TKO win over Thadeus Parker in Coney Island on July 7, 2001, Garcia is looking forward to bigger fights at the 147-pound mark.
“Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter are great fighters in this division. If they want, we can make it happen,” he insisted.
In the evening’s co-feature, Brooklyn’s Danny “The Miracle Man” Jacobs defended his middleweight crown against former world champion Sergio “The Latin Snake” Mora in a bizarre bout.
Both fighters scored flash knockdowns in the opening round, but in the second, a flurry of punches from Jacobs floored Mora and caused the challenger to buckle under the weight of his own fall, causing a severe ankle injury that forced a stoppage with five seconds remaining in the round.
“I wanted to stop him on my own,” said Jacobs, who boosted his record to 30-1 with his fourth win at Barclays Center. “I didn’t want him to quit on the stool, but I know that he knew it was going to end in a couple of rounds anyway.”
“I heard my ankle snap and my knee also felt funny and I couldn’t put pressure on it,” added Mora, who needed to be assisted back to his corner and out of the ring.
Jacobs was quick to shout out his next opponent to the revved up crowd, claiming a showdown with fellow middleweight titleholder Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillin would be an apt follow-up later this year in the same arena.
“I think these Brooklynites deserve something special and I think me and ‘Kid Chocolate’ would be that special fight here at Barclays,” Jacobs shouted over the crowd’s approval. “We’re on the ‘A’ side now, we’re champions, so let’s do it!”
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