Brooklyn fan favorite Paulie Malignaggi was stopped at 2:22 of the ninth round by Danny Garcia Saturday night at Barclays Center, but despite suffering a deep gash under his right eye and a disfigured nose, he survived with his verbal faculties intact. That's important because Malignaggi still can talk a good game, and he admitted his future in boxing most likely is behind a microphone as a ringside commentator from here on out.
Malignaggi retired once before after being stopped in the fourth round by Shawn Porter 17 months ago. Like so many before him, two-time welterweight champion Malignaggi (33-7, 7 KOs) got the itch to return, but he picked a spot that was far too tough against the undefeated Garcia (31-0, 18 KOs) in his first fight at 147.
Pressed on the retirement question, Malignaggi said: "I'm probably not fighting again. You hate to make an emotional decision. My career started in Brooklyn 14 years ago. If it ends in Brooklyn tonight, then at least I ended it at home where I'm from and in front of the greatest fans in the world."
The crowd of 7,237 cheered those words, understanding the 34-year-old Malignaggi has a great future as a commentator and doesn't need the kind of risk he took against Garcia, who dominated from start to finish. Two judges had Garcia in front, 79-73, and one had him winning, 78-74, when referee Arthur Mercante Jr. stepped in to save Malignaggi in the ninth. Newsday had Garcia ahead, 79-73.
Garcia pounded Malignaggi with right hands early and combined it with effective left uppercuts and lefts to the body in the middle rounds.
"He was walking me down fairly well behind the jab," Malignaggi said. "He cut me in the fourth, and I think that upped his confidence. I never could get control of the pace. He had a strong advantage, maybe 70 percent to 30 percent."
Garcia had poor showings in two of his previous three fights and wrote it off to problems making the 140-pound weight. The move to 147 left him feeling much better. "I felt a lot stronger," Garcia said. "In the ninth round, it felt like it was round one . . . I'm proud of myself. There are things to work on, but 147 is where it's at."
Garcia said WBA champion Keith Thurman or former champ Porter might be in his future. Maybe Malignaggi will be at ringside for the call.
"I've got a really good job commentating and watching great fighters ringside," Malignaggi said. "I felt like if I couldn't put up a great performance tonight, then it would be my last . . . Little by little, he broke me down, and I have no problem with the stoppage."
In the earlier WBA middleweight title fight, champion Daniel Jacobs retained his title with a stoppage of Sergio Mora at 2:55 of the second round. But it was a wild fight while it lasted with both men hitting the deck in the first round before Mora was knocked down again in the second and suffered a right leg injury that left him unable to continue.
"I wanted to stop him," Jacobs said. "I didn't want him to quit on the stool. He knew what the outcome was going to be a few rounds later."
Mora told referee Gary Rosato to stop it because of the injury and later called for a result of "no contest." Jacobs pounded Mora with repeated right hands in the second round, finally sending him to the mat before the bell. Mora's right leg buckled awkwardly as he went down from the barrage.
"I heard my knee pop, and I want to see the replay because I know my ankle is broken," Mora said. "The commission told me anything less than four rounds is a no contest . . . I give him credit, but I came to take his championship. I want a rematch."
Jacobs said there's no need for a rematch, and he hopes to face fellow Brooklynite Peter "Kid Chocolate" Quillen at Barclays later this year.