Paulie Malignaggi isn’t ready to serve as ceremonial gatekeeper to boxing’s next big star any time soon.
The former junior welterweight titleholder challenges WBA champion Amir Khan on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden, not far from his Brooklyn stomping grounds, in a fight billed as the American debut of the former British Olympian.
It wasn’t long ago that Malignaggi was fighting the best in the sport, though, from Miguel Cotto to Ricky Hatton. And he’s downright indignant at the thought of being anybody’s B-side.
“Everybody is saying this guy is so great, he’s the future, all this,” Malignaggi said Wednesday, speaking so quickly that his mouth had a hard time keeping up with his brain.
“This is the redemption right here, this is what I was waiting for, because nobody thought I would be back in a world championship fight.”
Malignaggi may be the best self-promoter in boxing, a constant stream of verbiage that flows like a raging river regardless of the subject. Just imagine Muhammad Ali in his prime, then hit the fast-forward button until the words start colliding with each other.
That’s one of the reasons he has managed to get another world title fight after a rocky stretch that includes two losses in his last four fights. His constant tormenting of Khan Malignaggi resorted to calling him “Amir Con” during the promotion and his use of social networking created a groundswell of support for the fight.