NEW YORK — He’s only 32. But in listening to Paulie Malignaggi talk — and he has spoken a lot — Saturday’s fight against Adrien Broner may be his last.
Malignaggi, the WBA welterweight champion, already has primed a great life after boxing as an analyst for Showtime. In the brief time Malignaggi has been behind the microphone, he has been glib, insightful and entertaining. And whenever he decides to hang up his gloves, he’ll need only walk as far as the first row of seats to stay involved in the sport.
“I don’t expect to fight much longer,” said Malignaggi, who has a 32-4 record with seven knockouts. “But as long as fights like this get my adrenaline flowing and get my juices going and get me excited to fight, then I’m going to keep fighting. As long as these fights are around, then obviously I’m not going to walk away from it.
“But once it starts becoming harder, you’ve got these kind of fights being harder, these fights my body tells me something different, then I’ll walk away.”
Malignaggi will earn $1.125 million Saturday while Broner will make $1.5 million for their scheduled 12-round fight at the Barclays Center. The bout will be televised on Showtime with a heavyweight rematch between Johnathon Banks and Seth Mitchell highlighting the undercard.
Broner has promised to retire Malignaggi to the broadcast table but Malignaggi says that’s unlikely given Broner has never fought anyone of his magnitude.
“Look who he’s fought — a bunch of garbagemen, a bunch of nobodies,” said Malignaggi, who won the WBA belt April 29, 2012, scoring a ninth-round technical knockout over Vyacheslav Senchenko in the Ukraine and defended the title Oct. 20 with a 12-round split decision over Pablo Cano in Brooklyn. “He hasn’t fought the guys I have — (Miguel) Cotto. Ricky Hatton. Amir Khan. I’m the best fighter he’s ever seen — amateur or pro.”
Both fighters made the mandatory weight limit of 147 pounds Friday at Brooklyn’s Borough Hall (Broner weighed 146.8 pounds, Malignaggi 146.4), and they maintained the X-rated trash talk that has dominated this promotion since the fight was officially announced May 4 at the MGM Grand.
“It’s gotten a bit crazy, I’ll admit that,” Malignaggi said of the verbal sniping that has become personal at times. “I can take some of the blame but I can’t take all of it. I can only apologize for my end. But at the end of the day, this is how the creation of Adrien Broner happened in my opinion. They put everything that’s wrong with boxing in one room, did everything that’s wrong with boxing in that room and gave birth to Adrien Broner.”
Rather than stay home and deal with distractions, Malignaggi trained on the West Coast for the fight. And while not many are giving him a chance to win — he’s a plus-900 betting underdog at the LVH with Broner listed at minus-1400 — he will have the crowd with him at the Barclays Center, located just a few miles from his Bay Ridge neighborhood.
“There was bad blood between us before we even signed for the fight and it didn’t bother me,” Malignaggi said. “I had a great camp. There’s nothing he can say that’s going to throw me off my game.”
Yet Broner believes he has gotten inside Malignaggi’s head. The fact Malignaggi is even hinting at retirement is all the proof the 22-year-old Broner said he needs to show he has gained a psychological edge and will remain undefeated.
“He’s ready for his 9-to-5 job and I’m going to see to it that Paulie gets there,” said Broner (26-0, 22 KOs).
While Malignaggi is older, he plans to draw on his wisdom to think his way around the ring tonight, avoid the land mines and outwork Broner, who has never been beyond 10 rounds.
“No talking has ever gotten me out of my game,” Malignaggi said. “He’s scared. I’m going to take him to places he’s never been before — dark places.”
The Showtime telecast begins at 6 p.m. PDT Saturday.
Contact reporter Steve Carp at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.