Requiem for a Welterweight

Danny Garcia entered the ring at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn on Saturday night at a crossroads. After three straight unimpressive performances, he had to choose which path to travel. Would it be the dominant road Al Haymon fighters like Floyd Mayweather and Keith Thurman have taken? Or would he take the easy road that Al Haymon fighters like Adonis Stevenson and Adrien Broner have strolled down? Saturday’s bout against the feisty but shopworn Paulie Malignaggi, who Garcia easily stopped in nine brutal rounds, still leaves us with questions about which path Garcia will choose.

Engaging before a solid and vocal crowd, the two fighters showed off their differences straight from the outset. Garcia landed harder, but Malignaggi landed with more frequency. That first round may have gone to Malignaggi, but as the fight progressed, Garcia’s strength and punching power began to tell the tale.

Truth be told, it wasn’t a bout that could be written about in detail without the author coming across as cruel. Garcia simply brutalized his man, slowly and methodically, throughout eight plus rounds. When the referee finally stopped the savagery, Garcia actually looked relieved. He was simply far too much for the Brooklyn native.

Garcia Paulie 2
The heavier punching Garcia overwhelmed Malignaggi.

No doubt people will pile on Garcia now for not finishing his man off quickly, but this would be unfair. Garcia did what he had to do. Malignaggi, even in the state he’s in at the moment, is a slick and crafty veteran. Danny had no business whatsoever taking unnecessary risks; by punishing Paulie so deliberately, he made himself invulnerable and allowed his methodical power punching to dictate the fight.

Having said that, the focus here belongs on Malignaggi, as this should clearly have been the man’s last fight. He’s got nothing left. The guy never had much of a punch to begin with and now, with his slickster skills having deteriorated, he’s got nothing to hold off the likes of hard hitters like Garcia.

Keep in mind that Malignaggi is closing in on his mid thirties in what is still essentially a young man’s game. What’s more, his list of opponents is nothing if not impressive. Cotto. Broner. Porter. Judah. Malignaggi is clearly not one of those fighters who took the easy route throughout his career.

Add that to the fact that Paulie’s last fight was a brutal knockout loss to a Shawn Porter, a bout in which Porter looked like Jack Dempsey, and it’s understandable why Malignaggi won’t have the career longevity of a Floyd Mayweather or Bernard Hopkins. You can only get hit so many times, no matter how slick you are or how much pep you have.

Malignaggi never once posed a serious threat to Garcia.

Indeed, it’s notable that Malignaggi lasted as long as he did Saturday evening. The man simply doesn’t quit – even when he’s being beaten to a pulp. It’s that warrior spirit that endeared the guy to fans on Saturday, despite his mouth and the fact that he frequently attacks Manny Pacquiao with relentless energy and without any discernible reason.

Malignaggi now needs to look away from the ring. He can focus on his ringside work, for he’s one hell of a commentator. That’s something the “Magic Man” is pretty much universally-recognized for. Even after the fight, Malignaggi came across as being his fast, sharp-talking self. He’s got a great future ahead of him, so long as he understands it’s time to hang up the gloves.

All in all, it was a notable night of boxing in Brooklyn, at least as far as ESPN’s PBC broadcast was concerned. The first fight, between Sergio Mora and Daniel Jacobs, was also unique, to put it lightly. Jacobs dropped Mora in the first – then Mora came back and knocked down Jacobs before the round was over.

Things continued in their unusual way in the second round. Mora went down a second time, then appeared clearly hurt when he got up. He had injured his leg – or his ankle – and was unable to continue. Mora claimed he wanted a rematch afterwards, of course, but Jacobs wasn’t having it. Needless to say, the image of Mora being carried out of the ring was unsettling to see.

Mora had to be taken out on a stretcher after crumpling gruesomely.

Although the night went well, it had the stamp of Al Haymon all over it. From the unique – some say annoying – ring entrances to the lack of a clear narrative, it was classic Haymon. What makes Garcia hard to love, for instance, is the fact that he never, ever says he wants to fight anyone. Not really, at least. He leaves it all to Al the Great…and that’s annoying to fans.

Not that Garcia or any other top Haymon fighter has much reason to care. Garcia is said to have made over a million dollars for Saturday’s fight. That’s comparable, if not more, to anything MMA fighters made during last night’s UFC card. It’s worth noting that even Malignaggi went from disparaging Haymon to ending his career as a member of the man’s stable. Then again, after his last two outings, Paulie deserves the money (talk about a couple of bad days at work).

Although he may never have been a great fighter, Malignaggi has always been an interesting one both in and out of the ring. In a sense, it’s nice that his (hopefully) last bout occurred in front of cheering fans in his hometown of Brooklyn. It’s also nice to know he’ll still be around as an analyst of note. Sure, he can be aggravating, but – admit it – you kind of like the guy.

– Sean Crose

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