Malignaggi to move to welterweight
In the immediate aftermath of his lopsided 11th-round TKO loss to junior welterweight titlist Amir Khan on May 15, Paulie Malignaggi considered retirement, but now he's decided to fight on.
Although only 29, the former titleholder has been in some tough fights, he admitted after the loss to Khan that he wasn't as quick as he once was. Considering Malignaggi relies on his speed and reflexes because he has almost no prayer of a knockout, and the fact he has a persistent nerve problem in his neck, the retirement talk wasn't a surprise.
Nor is it a surprise that Malignaggi decided to carry on with his career, but he will do it by moving up to the welterweight division.
Malignaggi (27-4, 5 KOs) and promoter Lou DiBella are constructing a plan for Malignaggi to fight in Italy. Malignaggi is a dual citizen of the United States and Italy, where his family is from and where he lived from the time he was a few months old until he was 6.
"Now that I need a fight for my comeback, why not do it in Italy? I know a lot of people want to see me fight in Italy," Malignaggi said. "This would be a chance for people there to see me live. Maybe I can get the Italian welterweight title, make it interesting.
"Financially, I don't have to fight again. I've done well for myself. I don't have to fight, but you wonder what will you do with yourself? I'm a fighter. That's what I do. I am a fighter to the core. It's something you miss if you stay away from it, so while I still have the option, let's see what I can do. It might be fun to go the European route."
"He's not ready to hang 'em up and he's never fought in Italy and he always wanted to fight there," DiBella said. "There is interest in him fighting in his hometown, Siracusa. He said, 'I don't want to end on that note.' He would like to go out better than he did in the Khan fight. Paulie wouldn't mind spending a little bit of time fighting over in Italy, going for the Italian title, maybe the European title."
DiBella said he has been in touch with Salvatore and Christian Cherchi of OPI 2000, the leading promoter in Italy. He said the Cherchis are interested in putting something together.
Malignaggi said he'd like to fight as soon as late summer or early fall. Eventually, Malignaggi said he wants to fight for the European title, which is held by Matthew Hatton, the brother of Ricky Hatton, who stopped Malignaggi in the 11th round in 2008 in defense of the junior welterweight championship.
Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.
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