The last time Paul Malignaggi toed the line and traded punches with another being for a purse was back in March of 2017. He hung up his gloves after losing that match, but the lure of that life, of the payoffs emotional, and mental and monetary are magnets as powerful as the strongest illicit stimulants.
That buzz isn't really replicable…so 38 year old men who had decided to find another less taxing vocation get lured back into the fray. That fray, in this case, was the squared circle, indeed, literally a ring, at Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship 6, in Tampa, Florida, on Saturday night.
Malignaggi heard boos as he readied himself against Artem Lobov, a UFC (MMA) vet, and looked to test himself against maybe a stiffer foe, Father Time.
The scrap at the Florida State Fairgrounds Expo Center, promoted by David Feldman, ran on PPV, featured both men wearing no gloves. True bare knuckle tussling, and Lobov came in the younger man, at 32.
Relative youth beat the vet, or so said the arbiters that counted the judges…After five three minute rounds, the judges saw it for Lobov, by scores of 48-47, times three.
I didn't, I thought Paulie won 3-1-1.
After the bout, Paulie started classy but then he got salty, and dissed Florida judges. It was a pretty easy fight to score, he said, and it would have been better if he hadn't broken his right hand in round two, he declared.
It is over, he said, he expected to be treated better, as an ex champ, he didn't want a gift decision, but he thought he got the W. One punch, one hard punch is all Lobov landed on me, he declared. Some on social media responded with jeers.
This clash was a culimation, on paper, after Paulie fueded with Conor McGregor, a pal of Lobov's, prior to the Conor McGregor-Floyd Mayweather mashup. The trash talk between Paulie and the Russian-born Lobov was pretty putrid, profane and then some–we wondered if the fighting would match the intensity of the smack talk. It didn't, Paulie managed to keep it mostly a boxing match.
In the first round, the righty Paulie looked to jab, and hold on, and then dodge swings from the lefty Lobov. Paulie was the aggressor, and Lobov stood tall, and looked to land power lefts. In the second, we saw Lobov aggress more. The Paulie jab got cooking. He got more comfy, moved well, slid out when Lobov tried to close distance.
In the third, we saw Paulie feint, repeatedly. Lobov's hand brushed the mat, but no knockdown was called. Lobov did land a decent left that Paulie felt late in the round. A little cut under Paulie's right eye didn't bother him. In round four, we saw Lobov try dirty boxing. Paulie didn't move so much in this round, as Lobov got closer, pressing.
“Pay him back for everythin' he fookin' said,” the trainer told Lobov. The fifth round started. Paulie got back to moving, and Lobov showed too much respect. No knockdowns, and the men showed respect at the end.
We awaited the cards, and I expected to hear Paulie being a three point winner. Oh, wait…THIS is theater of the unexpected too?