From high school dropout to two-time world boxing champion and now arguably boxing’s preeminent color analyst, Paulie “Magic Man” Malignaggi is a real winner having overcome numerous obstacles that would have finished lesser men.
Amateur boxing has played a significant role in Malignaggi’s life, starting in 1998 when he was a 17-year-old competing in the New York Golden Gloves.
“I was thrown out of high school the year before,” Malignaggi explained. “I had no place to go, nothing to do, and my family wanted me to do something to keep out of trouble. They were teaching me a lesson.
“My family didn’t plan for me to be a fighter, but I liked boxing a lot and enjoyed the competition. Through boxing, I learned to set goals, and for the first time in my life I had something to lose. I liked boxing enough to value staying out of trouble.
“It’s cliché to say boxing saved me, because anything you made a career of you can look back at, and say it saved me. I felt boxing was unconventional; usually people go to college, learn a trade, get a job. Boxing is the last option to attract people. There are many other options, boxing isn’t the first option, but that was my choice.”
Malignaggi went on to record a 41-9 amateur record, highlighted by his gold-medal performance at the 2001 Everlast U.S. Championships, to go along with him capturing top honors at the New York Golden Gloves Championships. Later that same year he turned pro.
“Winning the U.S. Championships was a major accomplishment that was a springboard for my pro career,” Malignaggi commented. “Amateur boxing gave me structure. I learned to think, technique, and how to box correctly. No matter what a pro fighter becomes, he can always go back to the basics he learned in the amateurs, the base in which to box.
“I also learned that you can’t always win. Case in point, learning to lose in the amateurs doesn’t kill a career, like it can block a career in the pros, because you come back in the next tournament.
“I was never concerned about consequences, never applied myself, until I started in the amateurs. Amateur boxing taught me the importance to apply. I started applying myself in the gym and changed as a person without realizing it.”
Malignaggi has distinguished himself as a unique boxing analyst who, pun intended, doesn’t pull any punches. His insight is unparalleled in the industry and his personality comes through the television screen.
As a former boxer, he knows what it takes to breakdown a fight, but he expresses his knowledge better than anybody else with strong convictions and in his Brooklynese accent. What he consistently does, unlike most other commentators, is prepare viewers in advance for what to watch for next during a fight.
Today, the high school dropout has developed at ringside like he did inside the four-cornered ring, honing his skills to articulate and nurturing his entertaining style, to become an award-winning color commentator for numerous networks, including Showtime Championship Boxing, Fox Sports 1, CBS Sports Network and in the United Kingdom, Sky Sports and occasionally the BBC.
“My dream was to become the best fighter I could be,” Malignaggi admitted, “but I never considered being an analyst. I was a thinking fighter, always asking questions, instead of just hitting the pads. I wanted to know who, what, why and when. I can see patterns better from outside the ring, when I’m relaxed (as opposed to being intense inside the ring), to explain things on air.”
In spite of multiple hand surgeries, countless stitches and a bevy of broken bones, the 38-year-old Malignaggi is still fighting. He is scheduled to make his bare knuckles boxing debut June 22 for Bare Knuckle FC against former UFC fighter Artem Lobov.
As well as he can breakdown a fight and boxers, Paulie “Magic Man” Malignaggi is a real fighter at heart, in and out of the ring.