No Easy Task

By Francis Walker
Updated: January 6, 2008

GlovesNEW YORK— Once-beaten IBF junior welterweight champion Paulie Malignaggi (24-1, 5 KOs) successfully retained his championship for the first time following a tough 12-round battle with No. 1-ranked Herman Ngoudjo (16-2, 9 KOs) at Bally’s in Atlantic City, NJ. It was Malignaggi’s first fight since winning the IBF 140-pound title six months ago.

Malignaggi-Ngoudjo was the main event of the first nationally televised Showtime Championship Boxing card in 2008. The fight was more competitive than originally discussed. Some observers felt the fight should have been ruled a draw or a Ngoudjo victory.

However, the three official judges at ringside scored the bout 115-113, 116-113, and an outrageous 117-111 for Malignaggi.

“I wasn’t able to get off like I wanted to,” Malignaggi said after receiving three stitches above his left eye in his dressing room. “I was really looking for a big punch. That was what my problem was. Instead of just getting my hands off, I was looking for a big punch and that’s not my style. I was waiting and waiting. Later I (finally) found a home for the uppercut, but it was late at that point.”

Malignaggi, recognized for his dazzling heads and foot movement, hand speed, and defense, isn’t recognized for having knockout power. In fact, Malignaggi, who has only five knockout victories as a professional, hasn’t stopped an opponent in nearly 4 ½ years.

Since his only loss to Miguel Cotto in June 2006, Malignaggi was sharp as he breezed through Edner Cherry and blazed Lovermore N’dou to win the IBF 140-pound title last year.

Ngoudjo wasn’t expected to give Malignaggi a difficult battle. Everyone recognized the Brooklyn, NY champion’s vast skills and speed while overlooking Ngoudjo’s workman like style.

“He made me rush things at times because, I really thought I could stop this guy tonight,” Malignaggi stated. “Everybody was talking about how I’m not getting stoppages. In my last fight, I fought somebody that nobody stopped. So I didn’t even bother trying to stop (N’dou) though.”

Malignaggi’s timing and rhythm was off, Ngoudjo proved that no fighter should ever be underestimated and doubted their chances of winning any fight. Ngoudjo’s workman like style allowed him to apply pressure and hit Pauile with punches that he usually doesn’t get hit with.

Malignaggi didn’t pull away with the bout until the championship rounds (nine through twelve). It was then when Malignaggi started landing his right uppercut consistently.

“At the end of the day, maybe that’s what I could have done more of and that’s throw more uppercuts” Malignaggi added. “He was tough than expected. He wasn’t as aggressive as I though he was going to be.”

Following the decision, Ngoudjo voiced his disapproval and said that he’ll be back.

“He’s a good fighter, but today he just didn’t win,” Ngoudjo said. “That is life. Some people get things free. Some people suffer to get it. That is life. One day, the man is going to get something back. The man is going to suffer one day. I’m going to keep training and practicing. In my mind and in my dreams, I want to be the world champion.”

Malignaggi Wants Hatton in 2008

It appears as though Britain’s Ricky Hatton is a wanted man. Since losing to Floyd Mayweather in December, it is expected that Hatton is going to return to the junior welterweight division once again. In 2005, Hatton returned to the 140-pound weight class after struggling with Luis Collazo in their 12-round welterweight bout.

Hatton is expected to take a tune-up bout in the summer before taking another big fight. There have been rumors of WBC junior welterweight champion junior Witter, as well as proposed fight with Oscar De La Hoya at welterweight. Add Maliganaggi’s name to that list.

What’s special about a Hatton-Malignaggi bout is that Paulie’s IBF title will be on the line. Also, the fight would sellout on either on the Coast or in the United Kingdom, because both fighters have strong followings.

Johnson Eyes Dawson In April

Former IBF light heavyweight champion Glen Johnson (46-11-2, 32 KOs) stopped Hugo Pineda (39-4-1, 28 KOs) at 49 seconds into round eight. The victory was an important one for Johnson, who was also showcased on Showtime. With the win, Johnson sealed the deal on an upcoming showdown with unbeaten WBC light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson.

“On April 12, we’re going to be in Tampa and Chad Dawson is going to take his first whooping,” Johnson said. “Straight, it’s going to be his first whooping. I’m well aware of all of his tactics and skills and ready to go in there and chop them down.”

For months Dawson has called out Bernard Hopkins and Antonio Tarver. Hopkins has publicly stated “what does a fight with Chad Dawson do for my legacy?” Tarver has expressed no interest in fighting Dawson.

But Johnson is stepping up to Dawson’s challenge.

“Chad is a great young fighter, an up and coming guy,” Johnson added. He looked real good, impressive in the fights that he’s been in. I really admire the kid, but he’s not in my league. Dawson is on the upside. He can only grow. You look at everybody else and say that they’re on the downside. Chad Dawson is the guy and beating him will make a statement for Glen Johnson.”

Johnson, a 39-year-old Jamaican, who knocked out Roy Jones, Jr. in 2004, fought Tarver twice and lost to Hopkins while they were middleweights, and Montell Griffin amongst many others. While it can be perceived that Hopkins, Tarver, and Johnson are approaching the end of their careers, Johnson continues to fight hard.

“I’ve never backed down from a fight,” Johnson added. “For me, it’s about going out there and proving to the American people that I am somebody that you can spend your money on. I am trying to win the fans over. That’s why I take on serious challenges. These guys that already have some fame and the American public, they don’t really want to fight. They’re just taking the consumer money. They’re taking easy fights because they already have the American public.”