Last October, there were rumblings among insiders that then-WBA Welterweight Champion Viacheslav Senchenko (then 32-0, 21 KO) was a likely opponent for Manny Pacquiao. Even Pacquiao's trainer, Freddie Roach, speculated of the possibility of a welterweight unification showdown between Pacquiao and the Ukrainian.
"The Ukraine people haven't seen Manny and Senchenko's promoters are very wealthy," Roach told the Philippine Star. "His promoters control the coal and metal mines in the country. Manny could fight Senchenko in Ukraine for a lot of money."
Despite his impressive record, the 34 year old Senchenko had not fought a 'name' opponent heading into last weekend's bout against the "Magic Man," but had a reputation for being tough, disciplined and technically-sound. And most importantly, the Ukrainain held the WBA Welterweight title and was purportedly considered as a possible opponent for Manny Pacquiao following the latter's superfight with Juan Manuel Marquez in November.
Photo Credit: Chris Farina, Top Rank
But Senchenko, who won the WBA Lightweight title in April 2009 and successfully defended it three times, was handed is first loss on Sunday compliments of a revived, resurgent Paulie Malignaggi.
Will Paulie Malignaggi (31-4, 7 KOs) now be mentioned as a future opponent for Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather Jr?
As of May 1, 2012, major world title-holders at the welterweight division are:
- Manny Pacquiao, WBO
- Floyd Mayweather Jr, WBC
- Paul Malignaggi, WBA
- (Andre Berto and Victor Ortiz will contest for the IBF title in June)
Although some will argue Malignaggi, like Arturo Gatti before him, is simply a better-than-average fighter who's not in the same league as boxing's elite pugilists, many have forgotten Atruro Gatti, despite his critics' assertions, fought the two biggest names of his era, Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Photo Credit: Henry Boothe/Golden Boy/Hogans Photos.
Given that Paulie, also like Gatti, is a crowd-pleasing, popular, charismatic pugilist with a large fan base who, as of yesterday, happens to own a major welterweight world title, he will likely be mentioned as a future opponent for, both, Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr should they win their respective bouts in June and May.
And if Paulie decides to pursue a bout with Kell Brook or Devon Alexander next, a win against either man would undoubtedly make the "Magic Man" a clear-cut, viable option for Manny Pacuiao or Floyd Mayweather Jr.
On Sunday, the 31 year old Maliganaggi's footwork and upperbody movement was masterful and was the foundation of his brilliant defense. Although Senchenko was able to land sporadic punches throughout the entire contest, nothing of consequence ever found its mark.
Now a two-time world champion, the eccentric Malignaggi possesses the speed, footwork, technical expertise and durability to, at the the very least, give Floyd Mayweather Jr and Manny Pacquiao problems in what could be highly entertaining match-ups.
Of note, all four of Paulie's losses have been in the jr welterweight division. He lost a hard-fought decision to Miguel Cotto in 2007, was TKO'd by Ricky Hatton in the ninth in 2008, found himself on the wrong end of a highly controversial (hometown) decision to Juan Diaz in 2009 which he later avenged in their rematch four months later, and was stopped by Amir Khan in the eleventh last year.
But following his loss to Khan, Malignaggi has moved north to welterweight (147 lbs) and collected four wins in as many bouts:
- April 29th 2012 - TKO 9, Vyacheslav Senchenko, (then 32-0-0)
- October 15, 2011 - UD 10, Orlando Lora (then 28-1-1)
- April 9, 2011 - UD 10, Jose Miguel Cotto (then 32-2-1)
- December 18, 2010 - TKO 6 Michael Lozada (then 36-6-1)
Before Sunday's bout, Malignaggi claimed to be in better health and proper condition after moving to the talent enriched Welterweight division.
"Fighting at 147 pounds has made a huge difference in my career," explained the new WBA Welterweight Champion. "I have more spring in my legs and can work for three hard minutes of every round. Before moving up in weight, I felt weak and depleted. Now, I feel like a brand new fighter in the Welterweight division."
Should Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather Jr win their upcoming bouts, will Paul Malignaggi be next in line for one of them?