Mailbag: Paulie Punch Out!

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There aren't many folks – at least not many in their right minds – who would offer a comparison between Paulie Malignaggi and Mike Tyson other than to point out each is from Brooklyn, N.Y., and each was a world champion boxer.

Tyson, the former heavyweight champion, is one of the most powerful punchers in history, while Malignaggi, a super lightweight, relied on his speed and guile and precious little power to win his bouts.

Malignaggi, though, is the successor to Tyson as the face of a Nintendo video game. Nintendo modeled the character "Little Mac" in "Punch Out!", its just-released game for the Wii, after Malignaggi. And it used Malignaggi to shoot a commercial that is available on YouTube.

Malignaggi plays Little Mac, a boxer who lost his title 15 years earlier. With the re-release of the game, he's seeking to regain his championship. Malignaggi was chosen for the part after an audition that included professional actors, but he said he didn't really have to act.

The character essentially was him.

"I want to get into acting at some point and this gave me a head start," said Malignaggi, who faces highly regarded prospect Mike Alvarardo as part of a June 27 Latin Fury pay-per-view card in Atlantic City, N.J. "This situation was kind of weird, though. The character I had to play was a young Italian-American guy, good looking with a cocky attitude and a heavy New York accent.

"I saw that and I was like, 'Wow, this is me.' I didn't have to act. I was just myself."

The characters in the game are the same as they were in the classic version, except that Malignaggi has replaced Tyson.

Malignaggi wants no part of fighting like Tyson, and feels like he got away from his elusive style that carried him to a championship and made him one of the game's most popular stars.

He hooked up with trainer Buddy McGirt in a bid to take his career to the next level. But he said McGirt changed his style that robbed him of much of his speed and quickness. He made the decision to replace McGirt after his loss to Ricky Hatton in November and hired Sherif Younan.

Malignaggi won his first fight under Younan on April 25 when, in a preliminary bout to the Jermain Taylor-Carl Froch fight in Mashantucket, Conn., he decisioned Chris Fernandez over eight rounds.

"I have nothing bad to say about Buddy, but his philosophy on boxing and mine are completely different," Malignaggi said. "I was starting to doubt myself, and you know that's not me, but I didn't want to doubt my trainer. Let's face it: I was winning fights, but even in the fights I was winning, I didn't look good. I wasn't fighting like Paulie. I'm not kidding anyone.

"That fight with Ricky Hatton, I feel I would have won it if I had been fighting my way and not Buddy's way. Ricky's not faster than me, but he looked faster than me that night because of the style I was using. I'm not that impressed with Ricky Hatton and I knew [Manny] Pacquiao was going to beat him. I knew it. I would have, too, if I'd fought the style that made me who I am."

Malignaggi will be back in the mix if he gets past Alvarado. If he doesn't, he's going to become little more than a steppingstone.

"I still have a lot to give, I promise you that," he said. "I have a lot of great fights left in me."

With that, let's get on to this week's edition of the boxing mailbag. I invite you to follow me on Twitter and send me questions there.

My answers to your questions and comments are in italics.


If anyone is still wondering why you criticized Chad Dawson's effort against Antonio Tarver, they need look no further than Andre Ward's performance against Edison Miranda on Saturday in Oakland, Calif. Like Dawson, Ward was pitted against an overmatched yet dangerous opponent. Unlike Dawson, Ward took full advantage of the stage that Showtime gave him. Instead of doing just enough to win each round and the fight, Ward took the fight to Miranda and put on a great show. Despite getting a cut above his eye early in the first round, Ward stood in the pocket and wisely stayed inside Miranda's wide but heavy punches. Although Ward never did put Miranda down, it wasn't for lack of trying. Ward blended boxing and punching beautifully, proving that he is both deserving of a title shot and worthy of more TV time.

Mike C.
Van Nuys, Calif.

I agree with you 100 percent, Mike. I can't dispute a single point.


I just watched the fight between Andre Ward and Edison Miranda. There's no question that Ward outboxed Miranda, and I would love to see what the results in future fights would be for Miranda if he would throw more punches instead of the macho bravado posing he does. What I didn't like is the fact that Ward continuously clinched, held and kept his forearm in Miranda's throat with no penalties from the referee. Both the judges and the referee were from California, which is also the same state Ward is from. Do you feel that it should be mandatory to have referees from different states whenever the fight is in a fighter's backyard? I feel Ward still hasn't been tested. What would you think of an Andre Ward versus Allan Green match?

Little Rock, Ark.

I didn't have a problem with the officials in any capacity on Saturday and I don't think an official's residence makes a difference. Do you think they check what state NFL referees live in before assigning them to games? They do not. I would like to see a Ward-Green fight, though. It would be a great test for both men.


In his last few fights, particularly his disaster against Andre Ward, Edison Miranda has looked increasingly confused by what his opponents are doing. Do you think he's getting bad advice, tuning his team out, or a combination of the two? Also, do you think he could return to contending for titles if he brought in an elite trainer?

Brian P.
Tucson, Ariz.

Brian, I've never thought Miranda was that good. He was/is a strong puncher, but he's never really had good boxing skills. I'm afraid it's too late in his career for him to make the fundamental changes he'd need to really become an effective fighter.


Why doesn't Yahoo! Sports have a column on the boxing page that ranks the top 10, or top 20, boxers in each division? I would like to see who's No. 8 or No. 12 in the heavyweight division.

Hobie H.
Butler, Pa.

The problem, Hobie, is that there is little interest in such rankings and it would take a massive amount of time to compile. And even once compiled, weight-class rankings are only a guess, at best, because it's too difficult to see all the top fighters in all the different classes and accurately judge them. The only real way to make those comparisons is to see the fights in person and that's impossible to do. Instead of spending an inordinate amount of time catering to something that appeals only to a tiny minority of the readership, we choose to work on stories that will appeal to a much wider audience, both hard-core fans and casual fans alike.


I wanted your opinion on the widespread criticism of Floyd Mayweather Jr. for taking on a perceived smaller man in Juan Manuel Marquez. We heard the same thing prior to and especially after Mayweather's last fight was against a perceived smaller man in Ricky Hatton, who moved up from 140 to 147 to fight him. I don't get it. As I see it, the case could be made that Floyd was actually the smaller man against Hatton, and Marquez is actually closer in size to Mayweather than Mayweather was to Hatton. Hatton turned pro in September 1997 at 140 pounds. In September 1997, Floyd fought at 131 pounds, a nine-pound difference. Meanwhile, in September 1997 Marquez fought at 125 pounds, just six pounds less than Floyd. My point is that Floyd moved up in weight throughout the years only because he was chasing money, not because he's some natural welterweight.

Robert Y.
Cambridge, Mass.

Robert, I think it's pretty clear that "Pretty Boy" is the bigger fighter in this match. Suppose both Marquez and Mayweather were offered a fight with a guy at 130 pounds that would pay them the largest purse of their careers, with the stipulation that each must make 130 pounds. Marquez could make it, without question. There is zero chance that Floyd could. Floyd has grown into a natural welterweight. Marquez is a lightweight who is talented enough to fight at a higher weight. Floyd is the bigger and faster guy in this fight.


I do not understand why Manny Pacquiao's win over Ricky Hatton was declared a TKO. In slow-motion replays, frame-by-frame, it showed that Hatton possibly was unconscious right after he was hit with Manny's thunderous left, even before he hit the canvas. It should have been declared a KO and not TKO. Give Manny what is due him!

Reuben R.
Lake View Terrace, Calif.

The referee didn't count to 10, which is why it is officially a technical knockout and not a knockout. But what's the big deal? It has zero impact upon anything.


Have you heard of any news if Freddie Roach will actually train Ricky Hatton for his next fight? Or were all those rumors just that, rumors? I would really like Ricky to benefit from what Freddie could teach him.

Joe S.
Pittsburg, Calif.

Hatton hasn't made a decision whether he'll fight again, so that decision needs to be made first. And remember, the story was that Freddie Roach's agent called Hatton's promoter. There was no indication that Hatton's people had any interest in Freddie, nor has there been any since the fight. Once Ricky decides whether he'll fight again, then he'll get to the business of hiring a trainer.


Ranking Vic Darchinyan over Nonito Donaire? I do not believe this ranking! Nonito floored Vic during their bout.

Milan, Italy

It's a vote of 30 boxing writers around the world. Remember, Darchinyan has faced much better competition than Donaire since they met. It's obviously a factor.


If Mayweather loses to Marquez on July 18, what is a better fight: Pacquiao-Marquez III or Pacquiao-Mayweather? Why?

Jerry E.

If Marquez wins (which I don't expect), it's a no-brainer. It's Pacquiao-Marquez III. Both men would have a claim on the top pound-for-pound spot in the sport and they've already fought two outstanding fights.


Who do you think would win if they fought in their primes, Manny Pacquiao or Sugar Ray Leonard?

Cainta Rizal, Philippines

Leonard. He's one of the top 10 boxers of all-time and he was the bigger man. He started at welterweight (remember, De La Hoya started at 130). Leonard would simply have been too big.

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