In case you missed it yesterday, junior welterweight contender Paulie Malignaggi stopped by our Open Thread to say “hi.” He did it even though he was tired and repeatedly said he was going to sleep, and he did it even though he didn’t quite understand what our site was. He did it merely because a few friends of TQBR on Twitter — IR, JPF, MJ — asked him to visit.
Malignaggi inspires a lot of strong opinions. He’s a loudmouth, he gets a lot of “Jersey Shore” jokes because of his grooming habits and accent, he’s had stretches where he wasn’t so fun to watch or even all that inspired in the ring, etc. I’m not insulting him — he’s admitted most of that, and in some of his more public screw-ups, like the ill-fated hair extensions he wore into the ring once and had to be cut off, he couldn’t stop talking about how stupid he was.
But at his best in the ring, Malignaggi is pretty damn good, and he’s been in any number of very entertaining fights, like his first bout against Juan Diaz or his spirited effort against Miguel Cotto. As much negative attention as he gets for some of his antics outside the ring, you have to admit that just as many of his antics are wildly amusing; aren’t you kind of glad he wore those hair extensions, since it gave us all an opportunity to see a boxer get a haircut midfight? He crosses the line occasionally, like his periodic remarks about how so-and-so might be on steroids, but that’s the consequence of a guy who constantly speaks the truth as he sees it, and that also means we also get to listen to Paulie saying the impolitic things boxing needs to hear, such as with his epic rant after the Diaz fight about what’s wrong with the sport.
Most importantly, you’d be hard-pressed to find a boxer who matches him in his desire to interact with his fans and keep them happy. Paulie kept asking me to tell people to follow him on Twitter, and I’m happy to for a couple reasons: One, it’s the least I can do to return the favor; and two, you really won’t regret it, because odds are good that if you talk to him, he’ll talk to you, too. As IR pointed out, he’s also probably reading what you are saying even if you don’t directly address him. You’ll say “hi” to him, he’ll say, “weren’t you talking shit about me earlier?” then you can go about having a friendly, all-caps chat with him if you want.
I’ve been up and down as a fan of Paulie’s. I didn’t like him at first. After the Cotto fight, I became a big fan. Then, when he went through a period where he looked like boxing wasn’t in his heart anymore, my fandom waned. I’m fully back on board after his renaissance from the Diaz fights, and after he took the time to make a small gesture like leaving some comments on this blog.
Go ahead. Follow Paulie on Twitter. Boxing needs people like him, and he deserves our devotion in return for his devotion to us.