Paulie Malignaggi (36-7, 7 KOs) took on fellow Brooklynite Gabriel Bracero (24-3, 5 KOs) in the final bout on ShoExtreme’s televised undercard for Leo Santa Cruz vs. Carl Frampton event at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY.
In a spirited, but uneventful 10-round affair, Malignaggi outworked Bracero for the majority of the fight, helping him capture a unanimous decision.
At this point in his career, it’s apparent that Malignaggi isn’t able to rely on footwork and movement like he used to.
The former two-time champion set the pace of the fight early, but he wasn’t able to effectively switch back to defense after throwing punches, as Bracero had much of his success returning fire with hard punches in those moments.
The first four rounds were tightly contested as both fighters had their moments, but it was the prevalence of Malignaggi’s jab and his ability to be first that gave the appearance of control to the judges.
During the fifth round, the pace of the fight changed briefly, when Bracero tried to step on the gas and apply some pressure at the request of his corner. Malignaggi wasn’t able to evade Bracero’s hard punches as cleanly he would have liked, but despite that, Bracero never landed a punch hard enough to hurt or slow the “Magic Man.”
Down the stretch, it seemed Bracero adopted a puncher’s mentality, waiting on the perfect counter instead of remaining active throughout. That allowed Malignaggi to regain control and out work Bracero for most of the fight. It was the accumulation of those moments of inactivity that cost him on the scorecards.
While Bracero had a slight edge in power punches, landing 64 to Malignaggi’s 49, it was Malignaggi who severely out-jabbed Bracero 119 to 70, allowing him to stay active and setting up many of his scoring combinations.
Judge Carlos Ortiz scored the bout 96-94, while both judges Julie Lederman and Robin Taylor scored it 98-92, all in favor of Malignaggi.
“I knew Bracero was a counter-puncher like myself. I was just trying to be the sharper counter-puncher. We both try to set traps and I just wanted to make him earn any points that he got. At the same time, I felt like I had to earn my points. I dictated the fight with pot shots and stepping over,” declared Malignaggi during the post-fight interview.
Malignaggi also spoke about the reliance on his jab. “As the fight went on, I just used my movement and feints to stay in control. I noticed that every time he picked up his foot, he would have trouble setting his defense back up. I started taking half steps back and once he would come at me I would shoot a jab. It wasn’t super damaging, but it dictated my distance and frustrated him,” said Malignaggi.
A win over Bracero definitely puts the 35-year-old Malignaggi back in the conversation for a welterweight title shot. As for what lies ahead in the future, Malignaggi isn’t quite certain.
“I’m going to head to Italy on Tuesday, take a vacation and then think about my future.”
While Malignaggi may not have the same speed and reflexes he enjoyed for most of his career, it’s clear he is still capable of out-boxing his opponents.
Photo by Marilyn Paulino/RBRBoxing
Staff Writer for Round By Round Boxing, husband, soon-to-be father, boxing fan, gamer, moviegoer, extroverted-introvert, whiskey drinker, ex-white-collar boxer, Falcons fan & comic nerd. Oh, I like to talk about race.