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paulie malignaggi

Paulie Malignaggi

  • Sport: Boxing
  • Decade Inducted: 2010s

Paulie Malignaggi is an American professional boxer and commentator.  He is a former two-weight world champion, having held the IBF junior welterweight title from 2007 to 2008, and the WBA welterweight title from 2012 to 2013.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Paulie “Magic Man” Malignaggi spent the early years of his life in his parent’s native Siracusa, Sicily before returning to America at 6 years old. Malignaggi’s father soon moved back to Italy and abandoned the family, leaving his mother to raise him and his younger brother.

Not allowed to play organized sports as a kid by his mother, Malignaggi didn’t start boxing until he was 16 but proved to be a quick learner.

“I got pretty good at it pretty quick,” Malignaggi recalls. “I started winning tournaments. I didn’t think right from there I’d be a world champion.   For the first time in my life I had something that I really liked and a reason not to get in trouble, a reason to want to stick with something when I hadn’t stuck with anything before.”

Upon turning pro in 2001, Malignaggi won his first 21 fights before suffering his first loss in a grueling battle with multiple-division champion Miguel Cotto in June 2006. Two fights later, Malignaggi would bounce back strong against rugged South African boxer Lovemore N’dou in June 2007, to win the IBF Light Welterweight Championship. After defeating N’dou once again in a rematch in May 2008, Malignaggi lost to Britain’s Ricky Hatton that November and dropped a hotly debated decision to Juan Diaz in Houston in August 2009. Malignaggi got his revenge four months later, when he defeated Diaz in their rematch.

British star Amir Khan would gain an 11th-round stoppage of Malignaggi in May 2010, leading the “Magic Man” to move up in weight and challenge 147-pound champion Vyacheslav Senchenko in a crossroads fight in Ukraine. “It was one of those back-to-the-wall fights,” Malignaggi says, “because if you lose it, your career is out.” Malignaggi didn’t just win, he pummeled Senchenko, stopping him in the ninth round, becoming the WBA Welterweight Champion in 2012.   The following year Malignaggi lost his title in a split decision to Adrien Broner.

As skilled with his words as his fists, Malignaggi was invited to contribute as a guest commentator for Saul “Canelo” Alvarez’s fight with Josesito Lopez in September 2012. Malignaggi quickly became an in-demand analyst, calling fights full time in addition to continuing his career as a boxer. He’s now one of the most popular voices in the sport as part of the PBC on CBS team, and won the Boxing Writers Association of America Excellence in Broadcasting Journalism Award in 2013 for his work on Showtime.

He was inducted into the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame in 2016.