Paulie the Magic Man to disappear from the sport, undefeated at 20-0?

By Ray O. Campbell Jr.


Paulie the Magic Man to disappear from the sport, undefeated at 20-0?

Malignaggi: “I don’t know if I am ever going to come back again if my hand isn’t 100%.”

Whether you wanted to root, boo or just stay neutral and pay close attention to see if this kid was going to put his talent where his mouth is, everyone was looking forward to the return of undefeated Jr. Welterweight prospect Paul “The Magic Man” Malignaggi 20-0(5) on August 25th. He had been out of action for eight months after capturing the WBC International Light Welterweight Title in December of 2004 when he defeated former world title challenger Sandro Casamonica. Right after the Casamonica bout, Malignaggi underwent surgery for the third time in less than three years to repair his right hand for injuries sustained during the fight. Things were supposed to start to look up for the flashy speedster from Brooklyn after the surgery, and it did. Well...somewhat. He went on to earn a unanimous decision victory over Jeremy Yelton 17-2(8) two weeks ago, keeping his prefect record intact on DiBella entertainments most recent installment of Broadway Boxing. Although he got the win, his hands didn’t quite hold up as expected. “I started feeling a little bit of pain, and the next thing you know, when I woke up the next morning it was really bad” he recalled. It was off to the doctor’s for more X-Rays. Following the visit, reports had been released that he indeed broke his hand during the Yelton fight, once again leaving the direction of his career in the sports most talented division in Limbo. “This time there is no plan, I am prepared to walk away from this man” stated Malignaggi with his normal confident tone absent from his voice. “I don’t know if I am ever going to come back again if my hand isn’t 100%.” Read on as you don’t want to miss what Paulie had to say as he lays it all out there for the people in this one on one exclusive. 

RC: Paulie, you were out for eight months after having your 3rd surgery in less than three years, and you returned August 25th and defeated a tough kid in Jeremy Yelton. There have been reports that you broke your hand again in that fight. Tell us exactly what’s up with your hand?

PM: You know it is funny because I am so use to dealing with pain, that I wasn’t sure if I had broken it or not during the fight. I was dealing with a lot of pain during the fight, but I had gotten so use to fighting with the pain that I just wasn’t sure. So after the fight I felt confident, I was like all right, I mean I felt some pain, but I was confident that I didn’t break it. And the next morning I woke up and it was all swollen. I went out and had fun the night of the fight afterwards, but I started feeling a little bit of pain, and the next thing you know when I woke up the next morning it was really bad. So at that point I knew something was really wrong and I had to go get X-Rays, and it revealed two fractures.

RC: Is your hand any worse than it had been before when you previously injured it, or is it not as bad? I mean give us an idea how of how bad is it this time in comparison to the other times you injured it?

PM: I can’t say it is as bad as the last one; the last injury I had seven fractures. And you know that going into this fight Ray I had told you that I was having problems with my hand towards the end of the camp. I didn’t tell too many people but you can vouch that I was having some problems in the last couple of weeks when I hurt it in sparring. The Doctors were telling me that there was no fracture, that it was just bruising and told me to keep using the hand. Now this time when I went for the surgery, because I broke it in another place during the fight, when I went in for the surgery, it turns out that is was a fracture in the place I had been complaining about during camp.

RC: Then why didn’t they see it initially?

PM: The problem was that it was underneath the screw, so the X-Ray came back inconclusive. When they opened me up to fix the fracture that I got during the fight, that is when they also found a fracture in the area that I was complaining about during camp. Now like I said, not too many people knew that I was having a problem during camp. It surprised even me because I didn’t think I fractured it during camp, I just knew I had a lot of pain. So I finished up camp with one fracture and then I broke it again during the fight.

RC: So how did you manage to continue in the ring like that once it started to bother you? I mean what does that feel like?

PM: The pain was always there, I was just trying to mentally block it out which is tough. People can criticize me or whatever but punching with a broken hand is one of the most difficult things to do, because it is just not the pain that you have to deal with. It is the hesitation and the reaction, and the timing that you have to deal with. People were saying “Ooh Arturo Gatti did it” Arturo Gatti didn’t break his hands every time he fought Mickey Ward, I spoke with Buddy McGirt, he told me he was having nerve damage in his knuckles. When you break your hands you literally can’t touch anything man. And any fighter that has really broken his hands can vouch for that. You really can’t punch with a hand that has broken bones. It is something that I don’t think too many people have had to deal with, I know my boy Brian Adams had to deal with it and it cost him his career. He is really the only person I can compare these injuries to, because they are worse than anybody else’s. They are worse than Arturo Gatti’s, they are worse than Mickey Ward’s injury. Brian Adams is the only person I feel might have had a worse time with his hands. So I can feel his pain, people can’t really relate to what I am going through because it is too much to deal with. People might criticize and say what they want to, but at this point I am so frustrated I don’t know where to go from here. People are always going to criticize; people are always not going to give me the credit I feel I deserve. I don’t know if I am every going to come back again if my hand isn’t 100%. You know what I am saying…….. I feel as if I am rambling right now, but there is just so much on my mind.

RC: Sounds pretty serious, do you plan on giving your healing process a little more time than you did the last couple of times or...

PM: (Cutting in) the plan right now is there is no plan right now. That is the plan. Every time I hurt myself there was a calendar plan so to speak. Where it was like Ooh by this day we are going to be in the gym, by this day we are going to be fighting and I would force the issue even if I didn’t feel good. This time there is no plan, I am prepared to walk away from this man. It is just so frustrating; it is not even fun for me anymore. It is not fun for me to go the gym and workout, it is not fun to talk trash and be able to fight because everything I do, I have to deal with so much pain and people just cant understand, people cant relate to it. It is easy for people to sit on their couches and sit with their note pads and criticize what I am doing. I feel like I am not being given credit for what I am doing, and like I said I don’t know if I am ever going to be 100% healed. So if that is the case I am not going to come back.

RC: It’s no secret you have many critics out there, and it looks like you won’t at least even have a chance to silence them with two good hands. Everyone that knows you know you have a lot of pride and always want to look good to satisfy your harshest critics, how does being in this situation make you feel?

PM: It is devastating to me. Yeah you are right; I do have a lot of pride, just me getting in the ring with injured hands, showed the pride that I have. I wanted to fight so bad and get back in the mix so bad, and there wasn’t anything I wasn’t willing to do. But at this point it affects my performances; I am having lethargic performances because I am breaking my hands in the fight. And then people instead of realizing that I am breaking my hands in the fights, and saying “Awe man he went into the fight with broken hands” instead of giving me credit for that, they are saying “Malignaggi is not looking good”, “He doesn’t even want to throw his right hand” and “He is garbage” and this and that. You know what I mean?... I am not getting the right reaction from the people. I just don’t feel as if I am getting the support from the people that I would like to. So I feel like what is the use, I love this, and I love what I do. I put my heart and soul into this every since I started when I was 15 and to really feel that backlash from the media, and the people, it has been kind of heart breaking. I know I have been a fighter that has gotten on everybody’s nerves and I understand that everybody is entitled to hate on me, but at least give me credit for everything I have gone through in this. And it is not happening, so yeah it is heartbreaking after all the work I put into this. (His voice tone gets even lower)… It is just heartbreaking man. 

RC: What does Paul Malignaggi do from here on out if he no longer has boxing in his life?

PM: I don’t know man; I am going to sit back for a little bit and just really reassess everything. Like I said I am not going to come back unless I am 100%, and that hasn’t happened. I haven’t been 100% in years. So I don’t know if that is going to happen. But I told myself, and I am preparing to not be able to come back if I am not 100%. I just have to reassess everything; I am praying every night that my hand can be 100% and I at least get that chance.  If I wasn’t good enough, and I failed being 100% healthy, then all right, I can at least say I had the opportunity. But to be injured and not ever get that chance, and have to walk away from this because of injuries, it is devastating.

RC: How does your promoter Lou DiBella and the members of your team feel about the possibility of you not coming back if your hand isn’t 100%?

PM: Everybody tries to put a positive spin on things. You know everybody tries to say “Ooh Yeah Yeah you are going to be back” and we are going to do this and we are going to do that. And I can applaud everybody on my team for trying to put a positive spin on things, but I know that it is not up to me, it is not up to them, it is not up to you, it is not up to anybody how my hands feels. It is up to my hands to heal. So no matter what anybody says, no matter what positive spin people try to put on things, it is not going to make my hand heal or be 100%. My hand is going to do what it wants to do, everybody tries to put a positive spin on things but you know what is going to happen is going to happen. And that is out of everybody’s jurisdiction including mine

RC: How do you feel about your last fight overall?

PM: I felt I looked really lethargic, I felt great walking into the ring and just hearing the crowd roar and everything. I mean that is what every fighter loves about this is being that center of attention in that ring, just that rush, that adrenaline rush is excellent and I loved it. But again I never really could get comfortable in fights and that was because I was in pain the whole time so that is obviously going to come with the territory. If you are in pain you are going to be concentrating more on the pain, more than you are going to be worried about being comfortable in that ring.  So there is not too much I can tell you about the fight, I was glad I came away with the belt and kept a Perfect record in tact. Like I said I am done going through this man, and like I said people don’t give me any credit and I am not going to cry and bitch about it. I can walk away from this and if I am not ever 100% ever again, I am just going to look at this from a fans point of view. But right now I don’t want to think about it, I just need some time to sit back and reassess everything and take the time off and really think about everything.

RC: Is there anything you’d like to add in closing to the people?

PM: That is pretty much it; this isn’t an interview that I am trying to get any sympathy from anybody. Believe me I don’t need anybody’s sympathy, so anybody that thinks I am out there trying to put out for some sympathy, it is not the case at all. I am speaking from the heart here; I am speaking from somebody who for the last eight years has been doing this. I thought this is going to make my life better, that this was going to take me to another place in terms of my financial situation and put me in another standing. I had hall of fame dreams, I had real big dreams for this, these are my personal feelings and I am just put it out there for everyone in this interview.


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