Malignaggi shaves head then heads to hand doctor

By George Kimball


Malignaggi shaves head then heads to hand doctor

His fellow passengers probably didn’t even recognize the young fellow with the freshly shaved head on Tuesday morning’s New York-to-Boston Acela. Suffice it to say that the length of Paulie Malignaggi’s hair isn’t going to be an issue any time in the immediate future. He doesn’t have any. When he came to his senses and realized that wearing a head full of cornrow extensions into the ring against Lovemore N’Dou had nearly cost him the fight, the IBF junior welterweight champion went to the opposite extreme.

Paulie flew back to New York from Manchester on Sunday. He shaved his head on Monday evening, and by the next morning he was en route to Boston to consult with Dr. Steven Margles of the Lahey Clinic about the right hand he damaged on N’Dou’s head in England Saturday night.

“I think Paulie realizes now that he’s not a little boy any more, and he shouldn’t do stuff like that,” said promoter Lou DiBella, who had unsuccessfully argued against the coif in the dressing room even before the near-disaster in the ring at Manchester City Stadium.

“Manchester is a working class town. There were 58,000 people in the stands and he managed to alienate most of them before the fight even started, so he was not only dealing with a hostile crowd, but it didn’t sit too well with the judges, either. A couple of them admitted afterward that it had been a factor. Every time Paulie would feint, the hair would fly in front of his face, so if one of the judges couldn’t see exactly what had happened, he probably wasn’t going to give Paulie the benefit of the doubt. Ultimately he had to overcome the crowd, the disapproval of the officials, and a probably broken hand to beat N’Dou.”

Malignaggi (25-1) got the nod on the cards of two judges to pull out a split decision on Saturday night’s card, retaining his IBF 140-pound title and preserving the possibility of a November megafight against Ricky Hatton, who won a unanimous decision over Juan Lazcano in the other half of the Versus-telecast doubleheader.

Malignaggi’s ‘do began to unravel almost the first time he got hit, and a few rounds into the fight it was in such disarray that referee Mickey Vann ordered him back to the corner to be bound up with adhesive tape.

And once that stopgap measure proved inadequate, cut-man Danny Milano began snipping away at the dreads between rounds with a pair of shears. Over the last couple of rounds Paulie’s head looked like a partially-plucked chicken.

“It was,” said Malignaggi afterward, “a really hairy situation.”

When he got home he took one look in the mirror and reached for the razor. Less than half an hour later he looked like a contestant in a Lou DiBella lookalike contest.

Dr. Margles, who had earlier performed several surgeries on Micky Ward’s brittle hands, first operated on Malignaggi four years ago, grafting a bone from his pelvis onto the damaged paw, and has performed several subsequent repairs to the oft-injured hand.

“We won’t know for a fact that it’s broken until he sees the doctor,” said DiBella Tuesday morning, “but Paulie thinks it probably is, and I’m inclined to agree.”

Whether the injury will require surgery or just rest, it would seem to rule out an intervening fight, so Malignaggi almost certainly won’t fight again until his proposed meeting with Hatton in November.

Saturday night’s card was supposed to build interest in that one, but neither winner’s performance seemed exactly calculated to bring them running to the box office. In his first outing since December’s dismantling at the hands of Floyd Mayweather, Hatton (44-1), amusingly, came into the ring looking like the Pillsbury Doughboy, wearing a fat suit that teased his “Ricky Fatton” nickname, and although he won handily on the scorecards, Lazcano did appear to wobble him late in the bout.

“Unless the news (from Dr. Margles) is something truly catastrophic, it shouldn’t affect the November timetable at all,” DiBella told BoxingTalk on Tuesday.