"The Magic Man" - Paulie Malignaggi - plans on returning to the ring in late August with a repaired right hand and new manager, Sal LoNano, who guided "Irish" Micky Ward the final four years of his memorable career. Malignaggi, 24, has been inactive since December 4, when he improved his pro record to 19-0 (5 KOs) and captured the WBC International light welterweight title. But he broke his right hand in that fight and has undergone surgery twice.
"I've learned how much I love and miss boxing," the World Boxing Council No. 9 rated junior welterweight talked about his recovery period. "I feel like the kid who's been left behind. I belong in the mix and I see a lot of punks getting television time I should have. I'm coming back stronger than ever and the ones laughing now will be crying soon.
"I've been a one-handed fighter for most of my pro career, since my third fight, and I haven't really been able to let go with it, yet, since my last surgery. I've been doing light work and everything is good. I have 100-percent confidence in my surgeon, Dr. (Stephen) Margeles. I believe in him. Dr. Margles doesn't just look at my hand, he's done MRI's, x-rays and everything he can for me. He operated on Micky Ward's right hand, too, and everybody saw what he was like after that. You're going to see more knockouts from me, but I'm not going to go out here looking for KOs."
LoNano served as Ward's manager and developed a good relationship with promoter Lou DiBella, who also represents Paulie. Malignaggi recently signed a managerial contract with LoNano, who has put Paulie into a 10-week program with strength and conditioning guru Mike Boyle in a Boston suburb. Brooklyn-native Malignaggi is working out at World Gym in Tewksbury (MA), where Ward trained to fight Arturo Gatti, before he returns home to the famed Gleason's Gym.
"I sent Micky to Mike Boyle for conditioning before his fight against Shea Neary," Sal explained. "I saw what he did for Micky and I know that, by going there, Paulie is going to be a lot stronger. Paulie and Micky have different styles, but they both have a lot of heart and are respectful and loyal. Paulie's a good, young fighter with a lot of talent. He loves boxing and has a lot of passion for it. My son, Frankie, is a good friend of Paulie's and he really wanted me to manage him.
After Micky retired I didn't know if I wanted to manage another fight. I've followed Paulie's career and when he asked me to be his manager, I just couldn't refuse. We're going to work together to make him a world champion." Malignaggi's last three wins have been against fighters (34-4 Sandro Cassamonica, 18-1 Ramiro Cano and 40-9-1 Ray Martinez) with an aggregate record of 92-14-1 when they opposed Paulie. He still has his same cornermen - chief trainer Billy Giles, assistants Orlando Carrasquillo and Pete Sferrazza and cutman Danny Milano - but feels that LoNano was the missing link.
"My whole career has been like a puzzle," he remarked. "I needed all the pieces to fit together. Dr. Margeles was a piece and now Sal and Frankie are the last pieces. With my skills and talent, along with the same cornermen and promoter I've had, I think my team is now 100-percent perfect. Working together with Sal..... there will be no stopping us. "I want to be world champion in 15 to 18 months. I'll knockoff any of those fake contenders; they're really only pretenders. Now I have two good hands and a great team in my corner. 'The Magic Man' is back!"