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February 15, 2017

ONE ON ONE WITH PAUL MALIGNAGGI
By G. Leon

GL: How's everything going in preparation for your March 4 bout with Sam Eggington? We're working hard in camp, we're trying to work on a couple of specifics for him specifically and we're working on just being in the best shape I can be in. I think it starts with me being the best fighter I can be first and then being able to make the proper adjustments as I go along.

GL: What do you know about Eggington? What are your thoughts of him as a fighter?

Paul Malignaggi: "I think he's an aggressive come forward guy. I think he has the aggressiveness of youth where you're willing to walk through fire at that age in order to prove yourself. I think he gets the sense of that as it gets closer to this fight, he's fighting his first big international name so I'm expecting him to be a very motivated guy."

GL: You've won several world titles in multiple weight classes, at this point of your career, what's motivating you to keep going?

PM: "For this particular fight I'll tell you what it is, it's a co-main event on a big UK card and those are the best fans in the world out there. This is a major event, the card is PPV and I know it's going to be a ruckus crowd, but it's going to be a crowd that's very into the fight and into the event in general. These are the kind of things I'm going to miss when I'm gone. I've won two world titles and I have the accomplishments I have, but these are time capsule moments, they go into your memory book and you're able to relive them in your mind. I don't take these moments for granted and I know there's not too many of them left at this stage of my career, but to be able to have moments that I'll keep in my mind one day."

GL: You've fought in England in 2015 but it wasn't against one of their own. This is the first time you're going into hostile territory since you won the title from Senchenko. You stopped Senchenko, do you feel you need to stop Eggington? Can you win a decision over there?

PM: "We have the WBC international title on the line and I left it on the line because it's going to get me neutral judges. I've been treated well in England, I can't say I'm going to get treated better than the hometown guy and I know the powers that be over there want Eggington to win, but I also don't think it's going to be hostile like going to Eastern Europe or even going to Texas to fight Juan Diaz. Don't get me wrong, I think the powers that be will be edging towards wanting Eggington to win the fight out there, but I also think I will have a little support from the crowd, I'm known out there and to a degree I have to hope to the judges are going to be fair, I'm going to have two neutral judges, but I have to make sure I do my job to where that doesn't come into play anyway."

GL: What are you hoping a victory on March 4 leads to?

PM: "I don't know. At this point of my career, I'm taking it one fight at a time. After the fight I'll assess how I look, I assess how I feel and I assess what should be next. The welterweight division is very top heavy in the top 10, the top 5 or 6 is very heavy, but after that it's kind of desolate so winning this fight I think it puts me back into the top 10, even it's the lower tier top ten. I feel like at that point I could be in the conversation for certain names at tha point in time, but it's going to depend on how I feel afterwards. I think it's a big accomplishment for me to be in the top ten after winning this fight, especially in the welterweight division at this stage of my career."

GL: Other than victory do you have a prediction?

PM: "No. I can't really say I'm going to have a prediction, but as exciting a fight as I think this will be and as aggressive as I expect Eggington to be, I think he matches up very well with me skill wise. I think that me in my 20's would have blitzed this guy and won every second of every round, I'm not that fighter any more, but what I lacked youthful excitement I make up with my craftiness. I do think I have enough in the tank to beat a Sam Eggington, this is not a top three welterweight. He's a solid fighter and I think he's gotten better over the years."

GL: You better f**king beat Sam Eggington, if you can't it's time to retire isn't it?

PM: (laughs) "Of course. I think so. I'm not looking at it from the perspective of Eggington can win, I'm looking at more how I look and feel after the fight will determine if I continue to fight and who would or could be next if I do. I plan to beat him in a way that I'm comfortable with my performance and I look good so after the fight I can say, maybe it's time to look at something bigger now. I don't know what biting off more than I can chew is at this point. I think I can enter the top ten beating this guy and I feel like that's justifiable. But what's biting off more than I can chew, and that will be determined after this fight."

GL: Who do you like in the Thurman-Garcia fight?

PM: "I'm not going to make a prediction, I know both guys well. I think it's a great fight, but I don't have a rooting interest that's for sure, but I'm not going to make a prediction."

GL: What does each guy have to do to win the fight?

PM: "I think Thurman has the better legs and he can do a better job of going around the ring boxing and being smart. I think Garcia is a bit more stationary, but he has a really good sense of timing. I think it's a matter of setting the traps that will lure the other guy into their strengths. I think both guys have the mechanisms to do that. The natural welterweight is Thurman so that's an advantage, but Danny Garcia has won fights where he's been the underdog before so you can't count either guy out."

GL: What about Brook and Spence?

PM: "That's a blockbuster, that's my favorite fight in boxing right now. I can't believe they made that fight. I think both guys have tremendous ability and superstar talent. Brook depending on his weight factors, I think that's the key issue here, how much is he going to struggle to make weight. When you're on the outside heavy and you're eating and you're comfortable, you're excited about something like this. But when it comes down to the last few weeks of making the weight and you're miserable, you wonder why you made the decision sometimes. That's the thing about Brook, he's taking the fight and he's excited about it, but those last few weeks there's a price to pay for staying at this weight and we'll see how much it effects him on fight night. That's one of the advantages Spence is coming in with, but Kell also has his advantages. Both guys have fire power, we've seen Kell take some pretty good shots and there's still some question marks about Spence's chin. There's a lot of firepower in Kell Brook's hands and it's the sharpest fire power Errol Spence will have faced in his career. Both guys are supreme world class welterweights and I can't wait to watch that fight."

GL: Is there anything you'd like to say in closing?

PM: "I'm excited to be back in the UK. I'm excited to even work there when I"m a broadcaster, I know that it won't be all love this time around because I'm fighting one of their hometown guys, I do look forward to the energy in the crowd. It's a certain kind of energy in the UK and it's indescribable, I've been to fights all over the world and the fights in the UK, the atmosphere on a major fight night, is like no other. To take part in a major night of boxing like this in the UK has me very excited and I cant wait to show my stuff on the 4th."

Send questions and comments to: boxingtalkg@yahoo.com



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