Bensonhurst-born welterweight champ Paulie Malignaggi flipped off a booing crowd moments after scoring a controversial victory on Saturday night, when world-title boxing returned to the Barclays Center.
The 31-year-old scrapper earned a split decision against the 23-year-old Mexican fighter Pablo Cesar “El Domoledor” Cano, and the crowd, which clearly thought Cano was the victor, reacted with a hail of boos. The “Magic Man” then waved his wand and stuck out his tongue at the naysayers, and later claimed the negative response didn’t faze him.
“I think I won pretty handily,” said the champ— who wasn’t defending his title because his opponent came in three-quarters of a pound overweight. “I thought I was controlling the action.”
Malignaggi used his quick hands to concentrate on the left side of his opponent’s face, and in the second round opened up a grisly gash over Cano’s eye that got bigger and bloodier as the fight wore on.
But the strategy left the two-time world champion open to several hooks to the jaw — including one that knocked him down in the 11th round.
Cano angrily said through an interpreter that he was the true victor.
“Thank you to the public for your support,” Cano said, vowing to challenge Malignaggi again. “They see who really won here tonight.”
It was Malignaggi’s first fight since taking the World Boxing Association title from Ukrainian fighter Vyacheslav Senchenko on April 29. Malignaggi said he wished more had been at stake in the bout.
“I was pretty disappointed that my title wasn’t on the line,” he said.
Malignaggi’s record now stands at 32–4, with just seven stoppages, while Cano has 5 wins, two losses, and one draw, with 20 knock-outs.
The return of world-title boxing
Saturday night’s Boxing at Barclays featured three championship bouts — the first to take place in Brooklyn in 81 years, and on hand to watch were Bedford-Stuyvesant-born heavyweight legend Mike Tyson and former undisputed world welterweight champion Zab Judah of Brownsville.
Philadelphia-born World Boxing Association, World Boxing Council, and Ring Magazine Super Lightweight champ Danny Garcia faced off against Mexican fighter Erik Morales for the second time, and easily knocked out the older boxer in another controversial match.
Morales tested positive twice for banned substance clenbuteral before leading up to the fight, but a negative result the day of allowed it to take place. But the south-of-the-border contender appeared tired and unable to get out of the way of Garcia’s power punches. A left hook to the jaw sent the former champ down at 1:23 of the fourth round.
The right-handed Garcia credited the defining blow to his southpaw family.
“That left hook, I get that from my mom,” said Garcia, who is undefeated with 25 wins, 16 by knock-out. “Thanks mom!”
In other action, Peter Quillin won the World Boxing Organization Middleweight Championship from French fighter Hassan N’Dam by unanimous decision.
The St. Louis-born fighter Devon Alexander also earned an unanimous decision over Florida native Randall Bailey for the International Boxing Federation Welterweight belt, in a slow, dull fight that almost had more clinches than punches.
Two other Brooklyn fighters were also on the card.
Orthodox Jewish Brooklyn boxer Dmitriy “Kid Kosher” Salita won his second fight in a row since his return to the ring after more than a year’s absence, defeating Brandon Hoskins of Missouri in a six-round match-up. Salita’s record now stands at 35–1–1, with 18 knock-outs.
The Ukraine-born, Flatbush-raised fighter and Malignaggi initially wanted to fight each other on Saturday night, but Golden Boy, the company that promotes Malignaggi and has a contract with the Barclays Center, ultimately picked on Cano.
Brownsville native and hot prospect Danny Jacobs made his triumphant return to the ring by knocking out another Missouri-born boxer Josh Luteran, just 73 seconds into the first round.
The victory came after Jacobs scored an even bigger win earlier this year — over spinal cancer.