A former two-weight world champion, Paulie Malignaggi now brings 16 years of boxing experience to bear as a commentator for Showtime and Sky Sports.
Being a professional boxing commentator is all about picking up on the patterns of the fight, the subtle stuff, and assessing how fighters should adjust their approach before it even happens.
So says Paulie Malignaggi, who works as a boxing analyst for Showtime and Sky Sports, and who also used to work for Fox Sports 1.
“I try to involve the fans and try to make them more cognizant of what’s going on,” he says. “Sure, it’s just two guys fighting, but what you’re talking about is fighting tactically. I talk about the things I learned from my perspective as a fighter.”
Malignaggi, who’ll turn 38 this month, is a former two-weight world champion who held the IBF junior welterweight title from 2007 to 2008 and the WBA welterweight title from 2012 to 2013. He retired after his last fight in March 2017. He was inducted into the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame in 2016.
Although he prefers certain styles of boxing over others, he certainly can’t pick sides when he’s commentating. “Sometimes one guy has the advantage over the other guy, so I’ll tell you what’s happening,” he says. “Why is this fight going into a lull? What is this guy doing that is causing the other guy not to react? A regular fan would call that fight boring. You have to explain what’s happening, why that’s the case and how things could change.”
Malignaggi was undefeated for his first five years, suffering his first loss in June 2006 after his debut in July 2001. All the while he was climbing the ladder, “raising the bar as far as the level of opposition as to who you start fighting,” he explains.
He suffered hand injuries and had to undergo surgeries and finally got a shot at his first world title – and lost it. Naturally, he was disappointed, feeling like he came up short, but the loss also gave him motivation, he says. “You got to regroup, you got to get back on the horse.”
He got another shot at a world title a year later, and that time he clinched it. “It was determination, hard drive, work. It was years of putting in what it took.”
He was introduced to the sport as a youngster in Brooklyn, New York, after his grandmother told one of his uncles to take him to the boxing gym. “She thought it would be good for me to spend some of my energy there.”
Boxing helped him find a place in life at a time when he needed guidance. Before boxing, he explains, he didn’t have the discipline or the motivation to apply himself to any tasks, and the sport became the one thing he cared about enough to be scared to lose it.
“For the first time, I had consequences facing me,” he says. “It gave me that drive and that focus. There’s probably a million stories like mine. Some better, some worse.”
The decision to retire was simply about getting older, he says. “The workouts were getting more tough, I was more injury prone, all these things became a drag. Once you’re not passionate about something, you won’t improve, and it’s harder to improve when your body is not cooperating.”
These days, he jogs a couple of times a week and stays fit for his TV job, but doesn’t do much boxing, mostly due to his travel schedule, he says.
He travels back and forth between his homes in New York and Florida and goes a couple of times a year to Sicily, where he lived as a boy and where his father still lives.
“I love Sicily,” he says. “If I didn’t have so many things holding me back here, I would probably live there. For sure.”
The above appears in the October 2018 issue of the print version of Fra Noi. Our gorgeous, monthly magazine contains a veritable feast of news and views, profiles and features, entertainment and culture. To subscribe, click here.