Next stop Barclays Center.
A Bensonhurst-born boxer snatched a World Boxing Association title belt from the Ukraine Master yesterday, paving the way for a defending bout at the Barclays Center this fall — the first fight to be held at the Brooklyn Nets’ new home.
In a near-repeat of the end of “Rocky IV,” Paulie “Magic Man” Malignaggi pounded undefeated Welterweight Champion Vyacheslav “Ukraine Master” Senchenko for nine rounds in Senchenko’s hometown of Donetsk, pulping the Ukrainian’s face so badly the referee finally stopped the carnage and declared Malignaggi the winner by technical knock-out.
The referee said Senchenko was hurt so badly that he couldn’t see out his left eye.
Sunday’s victory marked the fifth title win for the South Brooklyn scrapper, as well as his 31st win in a 35-fight career.
But it also means that one of Malignaggi’s dreams will now come true: he will get his first match in Brooklyn since he made his professional debut in an under card fight at the former Keyspan Park in 2001.
“I’ve always wanted to have a big fight in Brooklyn,” Malignaggi told this paper before the fight. “I had my first fight 11 years ago in Coney Island, and I’ve always had a sour taste in my mouth because I never had another fight here. The Barclays Center promised me that if I win against Senchenko, the first fight there will be my defense of the title.”
Paulie, whose face appears in banner ads for the new arena, said his next battle will be his shot at the history books.
“I want to be the answer to the trivia question, ‘Who had the first fight at the Barclays Center after it opened?’ ” he said. “Paulie Malignaggi.”
Reach reporter Will Bredderman at (718) 260–4507 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.