The CBZ Newswire

Paulie Malignaggi Gets Sweet Revenge, Wins NABO Crown in Chicago

by on Dec.13, 2009, under Boxing News, Juan Ayllon

By Juan C. Ayllon at ringside

Photos by Tom Glunz* 

M(right) unloads an uppercut on the chin of Diaz as referee Genaro Rodriguez looks on

Malignaggi (right) unloads an uppercut on the chin of Diaz as referee Genaro Rodriguez looks on

CHICAGO, December 12, 2009 – The clamor of an estimated 4,600 fans at the UIC Pavilion was so loud tonight that one couldn’t hear the winner’s post-fight interview with HBO’s Max Kellerman.  Even in the face of a decisive points win, the volatile chemistry generated in the wake of the rematch between Paulie Malignaggi and NABO Light Welterweight champion Juan Diaz took on a life of its own.  It was as if the crowd did not want this “magic” night to end. 

In August, Diaz had won a controversial unanimous decision over Malignaggi for the vacant NABO Light Welterweight title, one that sparked cries of robbery worldwide.   

Team Mhears it from the boo birds.

Team Malignaggi hears it from the boo birds.

It’s several hours earlier.  Loud boos greet the introduction of Paulie Malignaggi, which isn’t surprising, as Chicago is a large mecca for Mexican-Americans and Malignaggi’s opponent is former WBA, WBO and IBF World Lightweight champion, Juan Diaz, a rugged, Mexican-American boxer who wades in and slugs just the way they like it, hailing from Houston, Texas.  Cheers ring down and nearly drown out his traditional Mexican theme music.

Chicago was selected as a neutral site for a rematch of their first fight held in Diaz’ hometown, Houston, where he won by unanimous decision.  Yet, tonight, it’s clear that the crowd isn’t neutral, heavily cheering Diaz as he makes his entrance.

M(left) pops the jab in Diaz's face

Malignaggi (left) pops the jab in Diaz's face

As with their first fight, Malignaggi kicks off round one circling and out-speeding with quick jabs and occasional crosses.  A loud chant of “PAULIE, PAULIE, PAULIE!” echoes throughout the stadium.  Malignaggi raises his right glove in acknowledgement.  Moments later, an equally loud chorus of “DIAZ, DIAZ, DIAZ” counters.  The crowd is electrified.

Diaz is ripping lefts and rights to the body and ducks under counters in the second.  A left hook upside the head staggers Malignaggi.  Loud cheers ensue.  Malignaggi turns and runs, then plants momentarily to fire sharp countering blows and move out.  A right hook knocks Diaz to his right.  Cheers alternate for each fighter.  More cheering follows.   

Diaz (right) catches Mon the end of a left in a furious exchange

Diaz (right) catches Malignaggi on the end of a left in a furious exchange

Diaz bangs to the body and head.  Malignaggi nods his head and fires back with quick, stinging blows.  The crowd is raucous. 

Moving and punching in quick bursts, Malignaggi is playing Ali – make that Ali in neon green leggings and cornrows – to Diaz’s bearded and stocky impression of Joe Frazier, bobbing, weaving and ripping in blows to the body up close.  Alas, Diaz has the energy and some pop, but lacks Frazier’s crippling power.  

Diaz (right) bounces a right off the head of M

Diaz (right) bounces a right off the head of Malignaggi

This lack of fight-ending power is especially apparent at light welterweight, and afterwards, Diaz’ manager concedes that he needs to move back down to the lightweight division.

A left dug to Malignaggi’s right obliques in the fourth seems to bother him.  Yet, he continues to school the oncoming Diaz.  A loud chorus of “DIAZ, DIAZ, DIAZ!” is followed by shouts of “PAULIE, PAULIE, PAULIE!”  Diaz is bleeding from a small cut on the outer corner of his left brow. 

Rights and lefts bounce off Malginaggie’s head.  Sweat flies.  The crowd thunders.  Malignaggi fires quick bursts of punches and then circles out.  He flurries and moves – sometimes jumps – out of harms way. 

M(left) jars Diaz with a right hook

Malignaggi (left) jars Diaz with a right hook

Moving forward in the sixth, Diaz bounces three or four looping blows off Malignaggi’s head. However, a sharp Malignaggi counter right catches and staggers Diaz.  Cheers crescendo, followed by loud cries of “PAULIE, PAULIE, PAULIE!”  Malignaggi raises his cocked right gloved fist as if winding up for a bolo punch, fires a lightning quick salvo, and holds his gloves behind his back, leans forward and sticks his chin out at the bell. 

Msticks his chin out,  inviting Diaz to swing

Malignaggi sticks his chin out, inviting Diaz to swing

Referee Genaro Rodriguez warns Diaz for a low blow and gives Malignaggi a break to walk off the ache early in the eighth.  A short vignette follows that captures the brunt of the controversy of Diaz-Malignaggi I:  Cornering Malignaggi, Diaz batters him over and under.  Malignaggi ducks, covers and – need I say it – runs.  Make no bones about it:  Diaz is pressing the action, and at times, that’s damn impressive looking.  However, moments later, Malignaggi lands a volley of flashy blows that knock an off balance Diaz a step back or two.  The question remains:  Which has more substance?

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Playing picador to Diaz’ “Baby Bull,” Malignaggi is circling, jabbing, picking away, and scoring points in the ninth, while Diaz continues to press forward and swing hard. 

Diaz is driving Malignaggi backward in the tenth with pressure and hooks.  Malignaggi fires back in short, violent bursts.  A flashy right hook sends Diaz tumbling forward.  Apparently, his right glove touches the canvas which, technically, makes it a knockdown.  Genaro Hernandez gives him a standing eight count, drawing boos from the crowd.  Diaz is incredulous, and  watching the replay on a giant screen during the minute break following this round, a large segment of the crowd thunders in disapproval.  Reengaging, Diaz charges in swinging blows with wanton abandon.  However, that’s two points down in a close fight.  The damage has been done. 

The crowd boos Malignaggi’s incessant running and evasive maneuvers in the eleventh.  A chopping right sends spray flying from his head.  But, his counters keep tagging an onrushing Diaz.  A crisp right lances the head of Diaz, which streams blood from a gash over his left eye. 

Diaz and Mlet their fists fly in the closing seconds of their bout

Diaz and Malignaggi let their fists fly in the closing seconds of their bout

Pursuing Malignaggi in the twelfth round, Diaz sends spray flying from the cornrows with a chopping right.  Referee Hernandez warns Malignaggi for throwing the elbow.  Diaz is battering Malignaggi with a succession of hooks and rights.  Malignaggi returns the favor, but Diaz has the momentum.  Taking a deep breath, Malignaggi steps back.  Diaz surges forward behind looping fists.  Malignaggi opens up a ripping counter offensive of his own, and gloved fists fly in a frenzied furor. The crowd, which has been standing for the better part of the fight, is cheering in delirium.

Referee Genaro Rodriguez separates them at the final bell and the two tap gloves and embrace, eyes brimming over with love. 

Scores are 116-111 thrice for the new North American Boxing Organization Light Welterweight champion, Paulie “The Magic Man” Malignaggi.  Thunderous cheers mixed with boos greet the outcome. 

Seated next to his promoter, Lou DiBella, Manswers questions in the post-fight press conference.  His opponent, Juan Diaz, wasn't there, as he had to go to the hospital to have a deep cut stitched up.

Seated next to his promoter, Lou DiBella, Malignaggi answers questions in the post-fight press conference. His opponent, Juan Diaz, wasn't there, as he had to go to the hospital to have a deep cut stitched up.

Afterwards at the post-fight press conference, a smiling Malignaggi says, “I love it here in Chicago.  I like the noise.  Even if they’re booing me, I love the noise.  It shows me they’re into this fight.” 

Well, Malignaggi made some noise of his own, and gained some new fans in the process. 

Ortiz vs. Diaz

Ortiz (left) batters Diaz along the ropes

Ortiz (left) batters Diaz along the ropes

Ventura, California’s Golden Boy contender, Victor Ortiz, and Cochella, California’s veteran Antonio Diaz entertained in a scintillating, but short-lived affair. 

After retreating under pressure in the first and taking some abuse early in the second, Ortiz lit up the crowd with a heavy left hook upside the head.  His surge was short-lived, as the round subsided into a more calculated give and take affair, but it served notice that a conclusive explosion may lay ahead.

Diaz (right) is on the attack.

Diaz (right) is on the attack.

For his part, Diaz kept pressuring Ortiz, who was rumored to have a suspect chin in past sparring sessions. He’d been stopped in a war versus Marcos Maidana for the Interim World Boxing Association Light Welterweight title, and Diaz was doing his best to dent that chin and bring home a victory. 

But, it was not to be.

Ortiz (right) drives a whistling straight left to Diaz's chin

Ortiz (right) drives a whistling straight left to Diaz's chin

A searing straight left-right hook combination dropped Diaz hard in a corner in the second.  The crowd roared.  Rising, Diaz took more abuse, but his experience and ring savvy saved him.  Regrouping, a left hook of his bounced off the side of Ortiz’ head, staggering him momentarily.  More cheers. 

A Diaz right smacks the side of Ortiz’ head in the third.  Ortiz fires back, but is retreating under pressure.  Another right clips him on the chin and he pulls close up to avoid more damage. A left uppercut clips Diaz on the chin in the fourth, drawing a large “Ohhh!” from the crowd.  Circling deftly side to side, Ortiz keeps his gloves high, jabs, and looks to pot-shot with the straight left.  The crowd buzzes with anticipation.  When will the hammer come down?  Diaz wears a look of frustration as Ortiz runs and circles.  Many punches miss or are blocked.  They touch gloves at the conclusion of the round to some scattered boos.  They came for war, not a track meet.

Opening up, Ortiz drives Diaz back into a corner.

Opening up, Ortiz drives Diaz back into a corner.

Ortiz spears Diaz with a sharp right jab as the fifth round gets underway.  Diaz is bleeding from a cut over his left brow.  Referee Gerald Scott halts the bout to have a ring doctor examine the cut.  Resuming, Diaz pursues with a renewed sense of urgency.  Ortiz is banging in some sharp counters, Diaz bleeds, and cuffs with a right. 

Ortiz (right) rattles Diaz with a punishing right uppercut.

Ortiz (right) rattles Diaz with a punishing right uppercut.

A straight left buckles Diaz’s knees at the bell.  The right corner of Diaz’s mouth curls down, as if to say, “Okay, he got me,” and the crowd applauds.

In between rounds, it’s announced that the fight has been stopped.  Boos ensue. The fight is stopped at one second into the sixth.  Ortiz (144 lbs.) has won by stoppage, raising his game to 25-2-1 and 20 knockouts.  Diaz (144 lbs.) now stands at 45-6-1 and 27 knockouts.

A crowd mobs Ortiz at an entrance tunnel to the dressing rooms off the main floor, and yet more call out Diaz out for an encore curtain call.  

The Undercard:

Lara (right) drives Perez to the ropes with a hard left.

Lara (right) drives Perez to the ropes with a hard left.

  

Smooth-boxing former amateur world boxing champion and Cuban National Boxing team defector Erislandy Laras notched another win in his ascension up the professional ranks, this time beating Michoacan, Mexico by way of Chicago’s hard-swinging Luciano “El Gallo Michoacan” Perez over eight rounds. 

Perez is a brawling slugger who would never be mistaken for a consummate technician.  His punches are unwieldy, he’s often off balance, and he wades in with all the subtlety of a bull goring a man in the streets of Pamplona, Spain during their annual “running of the bulls.”

Laras bid his time, boxed well and scored well with straight lefts and occasional jarring left uppercuts in the first three rounds, while Perez maintained a tighter guard than usual and ripped thudding blows to his sides. He tried muscling blows around and through Laras’ high guard, but struggled to keep up with this thoroughbred boxer standing in front of him.

A straight left drove Perez on his heels in the fourth, but charging in like a bull, Perez responded with a furious body assault.  A straight right pierced Laras’ guard and knocked him back a step, drawing a loud, collective “Ohhhh!” from the crowd. 

Perez (right) unloads with a thudding right, as Lara covers up.

Perez (right) unloads with a thudding right, as Lara covers up.

Perez continued to batter Laras’ sides, arms and midriff early in the fifth.  Sidestepping him, Laras shoved Perez down. The crowd booed.  Laras rammed a straight left through Perez’ guard, but Perez answered with a volley of lefts and rights that had Laras covering again.

Lara (left) punishes Perez as referee John O'Brien looks on.

Lara (left) punishes Perez as referee John O'Brien looks on.

Early in the sixth, Lara drove Perez back to the ropes with a flurry of straight lefts and rights. Had the previous round’s relative passivity been planned?  He was now jarring Perez and backing him up with thumping blows of his own.  A straight left to the head staggered Perez.  Laras bounced a hard left hook off Perez’ head, who returned the favor with his right.

A straight left drove Perez into a corner, but regrouping, Perez battered back with an assortment of lefts and rights. 

Perez swung and missed in the seventh, falling to the mat with his forward momentum.  He was wilting under the onslaught.  A right hook smashed Perez’ cheek.  A straight let buckled him.  And another.  Like a wounded bull, Perez fought back hard, but like a skilled bullfighter, Lara appeared to be setting him for the fateful stroke of his sword. 

Lara rams a punishing straight left into the chin of Perez.

Lara rams a punishing straight left into the chin of Perez.

A Lara right hook sent spray flying from Perez’ head.  Carefully measuring, he lined Perez up for the kill, corralling his man, firing looping rights and straight lefts, and raising his guard and avoiding return fire.  A short right at the bell buckled a charging Perez. 

It’s the ninth round and Lara is punishing Perez, battering his head to and fro with jarring, hurtful lefts and rights.  Referee John O’Brien is circling nervously, keeping a close watch.  He may have to intervene at any moment.  Yet, Perez refuses to go under.  Stagger, yes – but he’s not going down if he can help it. 

Perez (right) has Laras covering up, as referee John O'Brien watches.

Perez (right) has Laras covering up, as referee John O'Brien watches.

Now in the tenth, Perez is ripping away at his tormentor.  He’s warned for hitting and holding.  It’s his last stand, and he’s doing his darnedest to blow away this Olympic pretty boy.  It’s not working.  He’s staggered by a straight left which pierces his guard.  Perez batters away, but his most of his punches are blocked.  Lara fires a quick counter and darts out.  The bell rings moments later. 

Referee John O'Brien holds up the gloved fist of the victorious Lara.

Referee John O'Brien holds up the gloved fist of the victorious Lara.

Judges scored the bout 100-90 and 99-91 twice for Lara, who won by unanimous decision.  Lara had won handily, bringing his ledger to 9-0 with 5 knockouts, but, this time, there would be no ears and a tail served up.  For his counterpart, proud warrior Luciano Perez had gone the distance and walked away with his senses intact and a record of 17-10-1 with 15 knockouts.

Mendez (left) rocks Chule.

Mendez (left) rocks Chule.

Brooklyn, New York’s Argenis Mendez (130 lbs.) and Nairobi, Kenya’s Morris Chule (155.5 lbs.) pitched a hard-fought, technical back and forth bout, with Mendez landing the greater portion of damaging blows, but took some sharp return fire in spots. Judges scored 78-74 and 80-72 twice in favor of Mendez, bringing his tally to 15-1 and 9 knockouts, while Chule left the ring at 7-8-1 and 7 knockouts. 

Herrera (left) charges out, driving Palacios back...

Herrera (left) charges out, driving Palacios back...

...and down goes Palacios!

...and down goes Palacios!

Chicago’s Jimmy Herrera (146 lbs.) kicked off his pro debut with a bang.  Backing his opponent to the ropes, his right uppercut snapped back the head of his opponent, Gustavo Palacios, and a straight left dropped him hard.  Sitting on his haunches, his back against the ropes, fellow Chicagoan Palacios looked up at referee John O’Brien.  He rose, but he wavered.  Sagging to one side, he was finished.  O’Brien waved it off immediately at 28 seconds into the first.  Herrera had won by technical knockout, while Palacios (148 lbs.) fell to 2-7 with 1 knockout. 

Tapia (right) batters Williams in a corner, as referee Pete Podgorski watches closely.

Tapia (right) batters Williams in a corner, as referee Pete Podgorski watches closely.

Tijuana, Mexico’s Humberto Tapia (137 lbs., 14-11-1, 7 KO’s) and Houston, Texas’ Hylon Williams (137 lbs., 11-0, 3 KO’s) pitched an entertaining scrap over eight rounds, with William’s edge in speed and accuracy, combined with cat-quick fire bursts, won over his plodding counterpart, who never stopped trying.   

Williams (facing the camera) opens up on Tapia.

Williams (facing the camera) opens up on Tapia.

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Watching from the press section, promoter Lou DiBella noted that Williams backed up instead of using lateral movement.  “He should be moving side to side,” he told a man standing next to him.  Judges scored the bout 80-72 thrice for Williams, who earned a unanimous decision win with his effort.

Bailey (right) stalks the evasive Sanders.

Bailey (right) stalks the evasive Sanders.

Former World Boxing Organization Light Welterweight champion and vaunted 140-pound Miami, Florida bomber Randall Bailey put a pounding on slick Chicago veteran Jermaine Sanders, whose quick reflexes and shifty evasive style kept him in the game, but also earned him a systematic battering over eight rounds.

Bailey dropped Sanders – who had a habit of keeping his left low – with a crunching right to the side of his head towards the end of round one.  Rising, Sanders finished okay, but walked to the wrong corner at the bell.

In the second, Sanders popped Bailey – who fell to the canvas.  However, referee Gerald Scott ruled it a slip.  Bailey bounced hard, glancing rights off the head of Sanders, who fired back crisp counters and bore down on the back of his neck with his elbow in clinches.   Finally, a right caught him on the side of his head.  Rising, Sanders listed and drifted to his left after rising, but steadied himself to pass the standing eight count.  Skittering side to side and dodging, he evaded subsequent bombs. 

It was target practice over the next several rounds when, in the fifth, a thudding right to the side of the head froze Sanders and a smacking left hook dropped him for a short count.  Again, Sanders avoided subsequent to finish him.

Sanders (right) assumes the attack, backing Bailey back to the ropes.

Sanders (right) assumes the attack, backing Bailey back to the ropes.

Sanders made a better stand in the seventh.  His head was clear now.  Sanders fired right and lefts.  A pesky jab backed Bailey up and stinging rights disrupting the one sided drubbing.  His left cheek reddened and swollen in the eighth, Bailey showed newfound respect for his cagey opponent who simply refused to fold.  “This guy has guts,” he seemed to say.  At one moment, Bailey caught Sanders’ head under his left arm and smiling, tapped him playfully on the top of his head.  He picked up the pursuit, but seemed content to let Sanders finish.  They embraced and exchanged warm words of mutual respect after the final bell rang. 

 As expected, judges scored the bout 78-71, 79-70 and 77-72 for Randall “The Knockout King” Bailey.  With the win, Bailey rose to 40-7 and 35 knockouts, while Sanders slipped to 27-8 and 17 knockouts.

Charlo (left) pressures Lozano.

Charlo (left) pressures Lozano.

Moments into their bout, Houston’s undefeated welterweight Jermell Charlo dropped Las Vegas, Nevada’s Abdon Lozano.  Rising, Lozano bent forward at the waist and touched his toes to clear his head.  Coming forward, he crowded Charlo, limiting his opportunities to get full extension on his punches.  

Lozano (facing camera) leans hard on Charlo.

Lozano (facing camera) leans hard on Charlo.

Lozano kept pressing in, occasionally walking into hurtful blows.  Suddenly, a sharp right froze him in his tracks.  Lunging off the ropes, Charlo crashed into him.  Lozano fell hard onto his back.  His gloved fists resting behind his head, he appeared more to be reclining on a hammock than trying to rise from the canvas as referee Celestino waved it off at 2:11 into round two. 

Retired female boxer, Rita Figueroa, with John Morrissey (left) and husband, Mike Figueroa (photo by Juan C. Ayllon)

Retired female boxer, Rita Figueroa, with John Morrissey (left) and husband, Mike Figueroa (photo by Juan C. Ayllon)

Rita Figueroa with popular boxing writer Coyote Duran (photo by Juan C. Ayllon).

Rita Figueroa with popular boxing writer Coyote Duran (photo by Juan C. Ayllon).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bolo Punch Boxing Hour's Chris Guzman with Tommy "The Hitman" Hearns (photo by Juan C. Ayllon).

Bolo Punch Boxing Hour's Chris Guzman with Tommy "The Hitman" Hearns (photo by Juan C. Ayllon).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Telemundo TV anchor Sara Vargas seen here taking in the fights with her father.

Telemundo TV anchor Sara Vargas seen here taking in the fights with her father.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Editor’s note:  I was informed that a 10-count tribute to fallen Chicago warrior Francisco Rodriguez, who died several weeks ago following an unsuccessful post-fight brain surgery, was not broadcast on HBO’s Boxing After Dark telecast.  That’s too bad.  Rodriguez was well-loved and respected in Chicago’s boxing community for his never-say-die attitude and kindness and compassion outside the ring.  This compassion extended past the boundaries of his life, as he was a designated organ donor.  Now, seven people will be able to live due to his generosity. 

Francisco Rodriguez seen here getting his handwraps approved prior to a fight about a year ago (photo by Juan C. Ayllon)

Francisco Rodriguez seen here getting his handwraps approved prior to a fight about a year ago (photo by Juan C. Ayllon)

Promoters:  Dominic Pesoli’s 8 Count Productions, Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions, and Lou DiBella’s DiBella Entertainment.

*Unless otherwise stipulated

CBZ potographer (right) mugs for the camera with David Diaz (photo by Juan C. Ayllon).

CBZ potographer (right) mugs for the camera with David Diaz (photo by Juan C. Ayllon).

Juan C. Ayllon (left) mugs for the camera with HBO's color commentator, Max Kellerman

Juan C. Ayllon (left) mugs for the camera with HBO's color commentator, Max Kellerman

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