Malignaggi beats Diaz by unanimous decision
Paul Malignaggi wanted to prove that he won his first fight against Juan Diaz by thoroughly dominating him in the rematch.
He also wanted to prove that he wasn't just a boxing burnout.
The brash, Brooklyn-based Malignaggi did both on Saturday night, winning a clear unanimous decision after the controversial scoring in his first fight against Diaz in August. All three judges scored it 116-111 for Malignaggi at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago.
The common scorecards were in stark contrast to the wild difference of scores in their first fight, when Diaz won by unanimous decision in his hometown of Houston.
Two judges had that bout 115-113 and 116-112, but it was the 118-110 scorecard turned in by a Texas judge that prompted calls for an immediate rematch.
``I think most critics were saying, 'This guy is a has-been or this guy is a never-was,'' Malignaggi said. ``I was trying to really say, 'It wasn't me, man.' I just made a mistake with the direction I took my career as far as management and training was concerned.''
The first fight against Diaz was the low point of a rough 18 months for Malignaggi, a former junior welterweight titleholder who also lost to Ricky Hatton in late 2008.
The 29-year-old Malignaggi (27-3) came out more aggressive than normal against Diaz and was able to land his jab, keeping good distance.
Malignaggi refused to back up through the fight, almost afraid that the judges would use that against him in the scoring. Diaz (34-3) tried to bull his way inside, but Malignaggi made it more difficult as the fight progressed for him to land combinations.
The ``Baby Bull'' was cut under his left eye during the second round by a punch, though it was never a major factor in the outcome. The 26-year old Diaz was most successful in the fifth round with Malignaggi on the ropes, but struggled to take over the fight.
The flamboyant Malignaggi toyed with Diaz at times, playing to the crowd by putting his hands behind his back and making winding motions as he was readying to punch.
Malignaggi didn't appear significantly marked throughout the fight, proving how tough he was when he stood up to Diaz in the 12th round and exchanged punches in the middle of the ring.
``Maybe sometimes I do too much clowning around, but I was having a good time,'' Malignaggi said. ``It's not a disrespect, I just get caught up in the moment sometimes.''
Malignaggi said that he's willing to fight anybody in the loaded 140-pound class, including WBO champion Timothy Bradley, who looked impressive in beating Lamont Peterson on Saturday night in Rancho Mirage, Calif. He also called out WBA champ Amir Khan and WBC champ Devon Alexander.
In the co-main event, Victor Ortiz (25-2, 20 KOs) rebounded from an embarrassing loss to Marcos Maidana to stop veteran Antonio Diaz one second into the seventh round.
Ortiz is a prized prospect for Golden Boy Promotions and had been on the rise until he was knocked down in the first and sixth rounds by Maidana in June. Ortiz quit after the second knockdown, and needed a dominant performance against Diaz (46-6) to get back on track.