After struggling to make the junior welterweight limit for over a year and not quite dazzling the boxing world as he did when he dominated Lucas Matthysse, former 140-pound world champion Danny Garcia finally made his welterweight debut a terrific one. Garcia dominated former multiple-world champion Paulie Malignaggi in the main event of the Premier Boxing Champions on ESPN card Saturday night, scoring a ninth-round stoppage.
Garcia was patient throughout, sticking with a determined gameplan of jabbing while constantly moving forward and mixing in scattered body shots. Malignaggi was on his back foot for the almost the entirely of the bout, and his pawing jabs couldn’t keep “Swift” away. Garcia started to increase his aggression – slowly – and when he cut Malignaggi over his right eye in the third, he took control of the fight.
Malignaggi tried in vain to find a rhythm, while trying to offset Garcia’s offense. But he rarely was able to pull the trigger. Virtually immobilized by Garcia’s jabs to the midsection, Malignaggi slowly had the fight siphoned out of him. Garcia began throwing harder punches when he got inside. As the rounds wore on, the punches that “the Magic Man” routinely avoided, he was suddenly getting nailed with.
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“I was trying to dictate the pace early on,” Malignaggi said after the fight. “I didn’t want him to get into a groove and load up on big shots. I wanted to keep him guessing so he wouldn’t throw his power shots. But Danny was walking me down behind the jab. He cut me in the fourth and I think that gave him some confidence and it made him stronger. I couldn’t keep him away.”
Garcia certainly got stronger.
Just as the ninth began, veteran referee Arthur Mercante Jr. told Malignaggi that he needed to show him something, or he wouldn’t allow him to take any more punishment. But Garcia turned his opponent into a sponge as he forced Malignaggi to absorb crushing hooks to the body and clubbing overhand rights. With blood streaming from two cuts now around his right eye, Malignaggi was hurt by a wicked left to the body. He backed into the ropes to try to recover, but the Philadelphia fighter was all over him.
Garcia swarmed him with a ruthless assault to the head and body as Malignaggi sagged into the ropes. Just about to be beaten to a pulp, a loopy right hand crashed on Paulie’s head, prompting Mercante to jump in and halt the mugging at 2:22 of the ninth.
“My dad wanted me to be sharp,” Garcia said afterward. “It was my first fight at 147 and he wanted me to throw straight shots. I stayed with the jab and I got the job done.”
Garcia needed to win impressively to remain among the elite around the welterweight division. The stoppage of Malignaggi (33-7, 7 KOs) did just that and “Swift” has several big name opponents waiting to lock horns with him.
“Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter are great fighters, great champions,” Garcia stated. “If we can make the fights happen, we can make it happen. Let’s do it.”
As for Malignaggi, he hinted at retiring from the Sweet Science for good.
“I’ve got a really good job commentating,” Paulie said. “I love commentating great fights and commentating great fighters. I hope to sit around ringside for a long time. Coming into this fight, I said to myself that if I didn’t come up with a good performance tonight, I would hang them up.”
“I couldn’t give in,” he continued. “I wanted to keep showing that I wanted it but little by little he broke me down. I have no qualms with the stoppage. I wanted to finish it out but I couldn’t. I don’t know because I’m emotional now, but I’m probably not (coming back). I started my career in Brooklyn and if it ends tonight, at least I did it in Brooklyn. This is probably my last fight.”
In the PBC on ESPN co-feature, Daniel Jacobs survived a first-round scare before stopping former world champion Sergio Mora in the second. After a tentative opening minute, Jacobs drilled “The Latin Snake” with a thudding right. The punch felled the Californian, but Mora got up and once the fight resumed, he leveled “Miracle Man” with a textbook counter left hook.
Jacobs was badly hurt by the strike and he had to continue the frame on wobbly legs. Jacobs was able to hold at opportune times to keep Mora away. By the time the second round began, his head was free of cobwebs. Still, Jacobs was cautious for much of the second, looking for Mora to leave himself open.
Mora eventually backed into the ropes as Jacobs unloaded a barrage of punches to the head and body, but when the Brooklynite nailed him with an overhand right, Mora fell awkwardly, snapping his ankle in the process. Mora was able to climb back to his feet, but he told referee Gary Rosato that he couldn’t continue, signaling to his busted foot. The stoppage was ruled a TKO because it came after he was knocked down awkwardly, and the end came officially at 2:55 of the stanza.
“When I went down I felt my knee pop,” a disappointed Mora (28-4-2, 9 KOs) said. “I need to see the replay because my ankle is broken. I came here to fight. He’s a great champion but, I want a rematch.”
Jacobs (30-1, 27 KOs) had other plans.
“No rematch,” Jacobs said sternly afterward. “No reason for me to go back now. It didn’t come out the way he wanted to but I’m not giving him a rematch.”
The win was the 10th-straight knockout for Jacobs, who has his eyes fixed on the middleweight elite. Sitting ringside was Peter Quillin and the defending WBA middleweight champion called him out.
“These Brooklynites deserve something special,” Jacobs said. “I think me and ‘Kid Chocolate’ would put on a great show. Let’s do it.”
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