Brash lightweight titlist Adrien Broner will move up two weight classes to challenge welterweight titleholder Paulie Malignaggi on June 22, Golden Boy Promotions announced Thursday.
The fight, the headliner of a Showtime card, will take place at Barclays Center in New York, Malignaggi's hometown, and will include heavyweights Johnathon Banks and Seth Mitchell in a rematch in the co-feature.
"This [kind of major] fight was the main motivation for winning my second world championship last year," Malignaggi said. "I wanted be in a huge main event at Barclays Center. This is a blockbuster event, and I can't wait to make a successful title defense in Brooklyn where my roots are."
Broner didn't think the location was an advantage for Malignaggi.
"Is the weight class ready for Adrien Broner? That's the question," Broner said. "It's a helluva fight. I don't care where the fight is. I'll fight him in a closet, his backyard, my backyard, the Barclays Center, at a barbecue. It don't really matter to me. Being in his hometown ain't gonna help him when I start beating his ass."
The card will mark the Showtime debuts of Broner and Mitchell, who were HBO regulars until the network recently announced it would stop buying fights from Golden Boy after the relationship deteriorated over the past year as the promoter moved more and more of its top fighters to rival Showtime.
"Broner is surprised Malignaggi took the fight, and Malignaggi is surprised that Broner took the fight," Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer said. "The interesting thing is what that shows you is both fighters are absolutely convinced beyond any doubt they'll win."
Malignaggi (32-4, 7 KOs), 32, a former junior welterweight titlist, and Cincinnati's Broner are two of boxing's most amusing trash-talkers. It didn't take long for them to get started.
"When guys move up a lot of times, they want to force a catch weight, try to meet you in the middle like [Manny] Pacquiao does all the time," Malignaggi said. "I was never asked about a catch weight. That was a positive thing. They look at my lack of knockouts and they never came with a catch weight. I think that shows their ignorance. It shows a bit of arrogance.
"Broner's supposed to be confident, but his team should know better. Not that I would accept a catch weight, but it shows arrogance or overconfidence. I think it will bite his team in the ass and they will feel very, very stupid on June 23."
Broner, who has won titles at junior lightweight and lightweight but is skipping over the talent-rich junior welterweight division, at least for the time being, said: "'Paulette' better be in some shape. On June 22, I will be a three-time world champion in three weight classes at just 23 years old.
"[Malignaggi] is a good fighter. He wouldn't be a world champion if he wasn't. He's a [trash]-talker. I'm a [trash]-talker. He backs it up some of the time. I back mine up all of the time. I never had no beef with Malignaggi, but at the end of the day, it's business. I'll kick his ass, and then we can be friends. If he takes it personal, that's on him, not on me."
After Malignaggi was stopped in the 11th round by Amir Khan in a 2010 junior welterweight title fight, he moved up to welterweight and has won five consecutive fights, including traveling to Ukraine last April and stopping Vyacheslav Senchenko on cuts in the ninth round to win a world title. In October, on the inaugural boxing card at Barclays Center, Malignaggi got knocked down in the 11th round but hung on to win a controversial split decision against Pablo Cesar Cano in his first defense.
"Paulie Malignaggi is the type of fighter that is not going to let anyone take his belt from him on his home turf, but he has his work cut out for him against one of the most talented fighters in the sport in undefeated rising superstar Adrien 'The Problem' Broner," Golden Boy president Oscar De La Hoya said.
Broner (26-0, 22 KOs) won a vacant junior lightweight belt via third-round knockout of Vicente Martin Rodriguez in Cincinnati in November 2011. Broner made one defense but was stripped for missing weight before facing Vicente Escobedo this past July. In November, Broner moved up to lightweight and dominated Antonio DeMarco en route to an eighth-round knockout to win another title. He dropped Gavin Rees twice in a fifth-round knockout in February.
With the top junior welterweights -- Danny Garcia, Zab Judah, Lamont Peterson, Lucas Matthysse and Khan -- all tied up with upcoming fights, Broner decided to make the jump from 135 pounds to 147 pounds when he was offered a shot at Malignaggi.
"I could have been offered a lot of fights -- Shane Mosley, Andre Berto, [Marcos] Maidana," Malignaggi said. "And I wound up with Broner. I found it ironic to be offered the most money to fight the smallest guy, a guy who has a lot to prove in my eyes. He's been fighting guys who can't fight. So when they offered him to me, I thought it was a joke at first.
"It was a no-brainer. I've always talked a big game and I've never said what I will say now -- I am going to beat the s--- out of this kid. He is not on my level at all. This is a bad matchup for him. It's not gonna be close. You got guys saying it's not going to be close at all because he's going to beat me. Well, those people are right. It's not going to be close, but they just have it the wrong way. I don't see any way he beats me."
Schaefer said Broner's move to 147 pounds for this fight does not preclude him from dropping to junior welterweight when top opponents become available.
"I can definitely see, assuming he is successful, that Broner will pick opponents after this fight that are among the top 140-pounders," Schaefer said. "There are a lot of big names and many are promoted by Golden Boy, so they are easy fights to make. At 140, there is not one name Adrien wouldn't fight. Khan-Broner or Broner against the winner of Garcia-Judah or Peterson-Matthysse, you name it. You can mix and match. He's willing to fight all of those guys, but they were not available. Not only is Broner willing, I want to make those fights. It takes a willing fighter and it also takes a willing promoter, and here you have both."
Detroit's Banks (29-1-1, 19 KOs), 30, scored three knockdowns and stopped Mitchell in the second round in November in an upset. Mitchell (25-1-1, 19 KOs), 30, of Brandywine, Md., exercised his contractual rematch option, and they were due to meet Feb. 16 on the Broner-Rees undercard. However, Banks broke his right thumb sparring, and the fight was postponed.
"I feel very good about this fight," Banks said. "I expect a more determined and a more powerful Seth Mitchell for the rematch, and I look forward to the challenge. I'm excited to be fighting and intend to put on a terrific performance."
Said Mitchell: "I'm excited about my opportunity to rematch Johnathon Banks. I was disappointed with my last performance against him and look forward to meeting him in the ring once again. My team has been working extremely hard in preparation for this fight. I'm confident that my performance will properly showcase my abilities and will reignite talks of me competing for the heavyweight championship of the world."