NEW YORK -- If I had to turn in a scorecard, I'd say Paul Malignaggi won the first part of Thursday's news conference at Barclays Center ahead of his Saturday title defense against Adrien Broner.
Broner, the (maybe) next big thing out of Cincinnati, won the second half of the event.
Promoter Richard Schaefer of Golden Boy asked the gents to play nice, requesting they stick to the topic and sphere of boxing and not digress into personal matters, as has occurred repeatedly in the buildup to this Showtime clash. Broner months ago had started the ball rolling when he referenced a woman he said he was friends with who said she'd dated Malignaggi. The nature of that relationship and quality of interaction was debated, and often in some rather raw terms, in the public sphere and on the Internet.
So Schaefer -- rightly, in my opinion -- asked that the fighters not go there again.
Broner, though, fancies himself a provocateur in the Floyd Mayweather vein, and brought his lady friend to the presser, and pointed her out to Malignaggi. The Brooklyn-bred boxer tried, it appeared, to not delve into the subject, but couldn't help himself. He addressed the lady, and quizzed her, asking if she knew the name of his mom, as a test to prove her true level of history with him.
The issue died down, and the two men did a staredown for the cameras, but Malignaggi, who works as an analyst for Showtime when he's not gloving up, kept fuming. He looked to exit the building posthaste, and only slowed down long enough to answer a few questions from Showtime. He then collected his crew and strode to the exit.
Broner was left with a gaggle of media around him. He insisted he didn't bring the lady to Brooklyn to get under Paulie's skin, but declared that her presence did just that.
Malignaggi scored with lines like, "Stop trying so hard. People see through you. Be yourself," and "Broner is a talented fighter but [adviser] Al Haymon has got him where he is." But when Malignaggi defied Schaefer's wishes and spoke to Broner's guest, it seemed as though, perhaps, his focus was shifted. And when he appeared salty after the event, one had to wonder if Broner's ploy worked.
Could Malignaggi fight a different fight than perhaps he should on Saturday, in an attempt to punish Broner for his stunt?
Maybe, but I'm guessing the 12-year vet collects himself, shrugs it off, gets on message and fights the sort of fight, tactically, he intended to all along.
Your thoughts, readers? Did Broner get into Paulie's head and plant a bad seed?