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Paulie Malignaggi: Media writers won’t clean up combat sports because they’re fanboys & sellouts

By Zach Arnold | October 21, 2013

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This press conference rant is all over the place without much focus or context. So, rather than try to logically dissect Paulie Malignaggi’s comments, I’ll just present them to you in unedited form. You can respond to whatever portion of his rant that you would like.

“Speaking of the last fight (with Adrian Broner), there’s some things that irked me. The result definitely irked me. I don’t mind losing a decision, it’s close, it can go both ways. Things happen. I was a little bit irritated with the media putting the decision in the context of some ridiculous decisions, you know. There has not been a day since June 22nd that I don’t get at least one or two people come up to me no matter what I’m city in in the country or the world, no matter where I am, that don’t come up to me and say, ‘Paulie, you got screwed in that Broner fight.’ And I’m not saying everybody has to agree with it but it’s the kind of fight that could have went both ways. So when I hear reporters putting it into the context with the split decision that was ridiculous like Mayweather/Canelo majority decision. Guys, I don’t know about you, but I don’t think one person is going up to Canelo Alvarez telling him that he won that fight, I don’t think one person.

So, I don’t know what bifocals some of you guys had on the night I fought Broner but get some thicker ones for the rest of your careers if you’re going to the job. Because if you’re going to do this job, at least get it right. We do the fighting, we do the hard part, you know what I’m saying? You guys at least put the correct bifocals on and score the fight right and do the thing you’re supposed to do. You could at least do that, that’s the least you owe us fighters.

It’s you guys that have the responsibility to do that, not me. It’s not my responsibility to fix up the fight game. It’s my responsibility to put on a good show and entertain, OK? It’s you guys responsibility to bring out what’s wrong with it and what’s not wrong with it and to change things for the positive. So, it’s just not up to the media to make your fantasy pound-for-pound lists and ‘this guy’s better than this guy.’ That’s cool, but it’s nerd stuff at the end of the day. Go forward and try to make the sport a better place for the athletes and for the fans and everything because we can’t do it on our own, you know what I’m saying?

Like, you know, I remember years ago I was talking about PEDs in boxing and I’m not saying anything has to do with this fight, I was talking about PEDs in boxing. People looked at me, laughing at me, talking about how ridiculous I am. And now everybody’s now on this whole PED [crusade]. If you guys would have listened to me five years ago instead of calling me ridiculous, maybe things would have changed for the better. So, there’s other things that need to change in the sport, you know what I’m saying? We do need to make things better for us fighters, too, so it’s up to you guys.

You guys criticize a fighter for, ‘hey, man, he was way ahead and he just played it safe for the rest of the fight because you know he just wanted to play it safe and he owes the fans entertainment.’ Well, you guys owe it more than us, OK? You guys want us to put our necks on the line in a fight we’re up ahead, we’re ahead in the fight and want us to getting risked knock out? Why don’t you guys risk your jobs and bring out what’s wrong with the sport sometimes instead of keeping quiet so you can get ringside credentials? A lot of you guys are fanboys instead of media guys, you know what I mean?. Hey, if boxing was a mainstream sport… a lot of you guys would not have a job because real media guys would be covering it, OK? A lot of guys ought to be thankful that this a secondary sport in the country. It’s popular, but it’s a secondary sport. So, do your job right.”

OK, I change my mind. A couple of comments. His heart is in the right place and I understand where he’s coming from here. So, as a general opinion, he’s at least in the right neighborhood with his criticisms.

Here’s the problem: for those of us who do write about the dirtier side of the business and have made efforts to clean up the business, we very get little support behind the scenes. I think I am actually qualified to speak on this topic given how I went after PRIDE for being a yakuza dummy company and for all the various issues involving state athletic commissions. Ask Che Guevara in California about the politicians who paid attention to my writings. It’s easy for fighters and managers (and some regulators) to come to me with their grievances and have me write about them. However, time after time, there are countless stories in which people have asked me to carry their water only for those same people to back out when there’s any sort of response or pressure from those they accuse of hurting combat sports. In a sport where you have to fight for survival, I have never seen so many cowards in my life.

I don’t write because I want show tickets. I’ve never accepted credentials for a show in my life. No freebies, no gifts. No desire to do so. I never got into writing to make money and that’s why I’ve always been realistic about what covering combat sports is worth. I’ve never sold out to a promoter once in my life. But I understand that I’m the rare ugly duckling in the fight media sector and I don’t begrudge anyone who tries to cash in by cutting a deal with a promoter or a television network as long as they are open & transparent about it. Just don’t count me in that group because I have no desire to be a paid PR flack.

You want media writers to help clean up the sport when it comes to bad regulators and judges? OK, Paulie, then put your money where your mouth is. Show up at all the monthly athletic commission meetings at 8 AM or 9 AM when ACs start ’em in order to avoid fans appearing and confronting the bureaucrats. Work the phone lines and call politicians to get something going. Use some elbow grease. When I went after that dangerous idiot Keith Kizer and the individuals propping him up in Nevada (Sig Rogich, Marc Ratner, Skip Avansino), I stated that nothing would change because no one ever goes to the AC meetings and no one from the business who is an active fighter ever confronts the fixers face-to-face. Instead, it gets dumped on the laps of the media to do the dirty work for those in the industry who are too scared to show up at AC meetings or too scared to get into the political game.

I’m not going to change my style or my efforts in covering combat sports the way I do. I’m honest to a fault. I don’t expect any payment in return. But I also understand why so many in combat sports media don’t want to go that route. The reason they don’t want to go that route, besides being fanboys, is because they know that once they start raising hell on issues that need to be fixed in combat sports, the people who have the most on the line (fighters, managers, promoters) are the first to bail or take a small payoff when the spotlight gets bright and when their presence is needed the most. A perfect example of this is right now is happening in California. The athletic inspectors continued to get screwed over. Bogus legal opinions are pushed by Consumer Affairs in Sacramento to not pay the travel for non-lead inspectors. Issues relating to time-and-a-half pay for inspectors who are full-time state employees also are cropping up. And yet when it came time to vote on unionization, the athletic inspectors started turning on each other and sold out certain veteran inspectors who were trying to educate their cohorts on state laws and how to fight for their rights. So, why should writers fight for those in the industry who won’t fight for themselves and are willing to accept table scraps from politicians who make up the rules as they go along in screwing the grunts on the ground working shows?

Do I wish media writers would go after fixers like Sig Rogich and Skip Avansino? Of course I would. But very few writers in the fight game are altruistic. Paulie is right in saying that most writers only care about getting tickets to go to shows and to party after fights with people. He’s right in that it’s a social circle. However, most writers go this route because they know that if they have to fight for the rights of the fighters, those fighters are not going to be there for them when the battle really counts. So, why bother?

Topics: Boxing, Media, Zach Arnold | 12 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

12 Responses to “Paulie Malignaggi: Media writers won’t clean up combat sports because they’re fanboys & sellouts”

  1. Just want to note on a comment that appears in the RSS preview – yes, in MMA, it’s pretty embarrassing. We had yet another example of that on Saturday, when a “reporter” on the floor of the press conference actually called for people to “give a hand” to Cain Velasquez. The ignorance and lack of ethics of self-proclaimed MMA media members is pretty distressing.

    But – and I say this with the note that this is totally anecdotal and coming off my brief experience covering the scene in Upstate New York and watching scrums and press conferences at big-money events – it’s arguably much worse in boxing. The amount of shilling and particularly the blurring of promotional lines is jaw-dropping, in that it’s much more transparent and shameless.

  2. Nod Salab says:

    Funny no mention from Paulie on the ringside commentators, of which he is one. Their stupid comments, and pointless commentary hurt Boxing more than any writer does. Unfortunately, TV fans listen to the jiberish people like Atlas, and that Mario guy Showtime added to the useless losers who sit ringside and run their mouths.
    Boxing fans read about the sport,but millions of viewers hear their BS on TV

    • Chuck says:

      In what way does Teddy Atlas hurt boxing? I agree with about 95% of what he has said on FNF for the past eleven years that I have been watching ESPN2 FNF. Are you saying commentators are useless, and shouldn’t call fights? How asinine of a statement is that?! Of course there have been bad commentators (Gus Johnson, Antonio Tarver, Lennox Lewis, Bobby Czyz, etc.). Funny how three of the four guys I mentioned were former or current (Tarver) fighters.

      Really, I don’t understand what your overall message is here. Shut up and watch the fights, with nothing attached except for the combat in the ring? Again, how asinine. Or that many commentators that have talked about problems in the industry don’t “put up or shut up”? Come on man, elaborate!

      • Nod Salab says:

        What purpose do commentators serve. You tell me. Ever notice that while you at a live event, if you ever go, there are no commentators.

        • Chuck says:

          So what? I like listening to Teddy Atlas (I think he sometimes likes being on TV too much, but whatever), Jim Lampley, Harold Lederman (don’t always agree with his scoring of fights), Max Kellerman, Joe Tessitore (sometimes tries too hard to makes things seem excitable, but he’s not as bad as Gus Johnson), Barry Tompkins, etc. Hell, Paulie is pretty decent at commentating. A good commentator will explain what is happening (I’m a huge boxing fan, so I might not need the help, but others do), explain a fighter’s back story (for those that care), talk about the current happenings in the boxing world, talk about the problems permeating the industry (like Teddy Atlas and the HBO crew are especially known for), etc. I most like the last one.

          Okay, you just straight don’t like commentary. That’s fine. But to say that it is pointless and useless is just plain ridiculous. Hey, as I mentioned before, a bad commentator can make things worse. But there aren’t too many shitty or mediocre ones. The worst one right now may be Mauro Ranallo. That is because he is extremely annoying and tries too hard to be funny/humorous (he sucks at comedy). And he comes off as a mark/fanboy too often sometimes. But he knows the game, and isn’t quite terrible, so he has a nod over Gus Johnson (clueless idiot). Sometimes talks too much too (another like that was Nick Charles, who unfortunately died a while back).

  3. We need a Federal Overseer to save the sports. WTFU

  4. nottheface says:

    This almost reads as a companion piece to Brian D’Souza’s “Shill ‘Em All” series.

    • Goes without saying that Malignaggi read the piece/series and co-opted the parts of the message he liked (unfair/biased criticism of fighters; media being used as the promoter’s tool; etc).

      Paulie is a good fighter, and less intuitive when it comes to the politics/dynamics of athletic commissions. Why is judging corrupt? Why did Junior dos Santos-Cain Velasquez go on too long? Why does Keith Kizer still have a job?

      Only place you can find out answers to these questions is here at But this website requires promotion, investment, attention, and most importantly– respect.

  5. edub says:

    Heart’s in the right place.

  6. Chris says:

    This was a mixed bag for Paulie. Some elements of truth mixed in some self serving comments to soothe his bruised ego. But overall not a bad job.

  7. […]’s Zach Arnold dissected Malignaggi’s rant, and came up with things that fighters can do in order to support change like attending commission meetings or pushing back at the right time. Zach’s point is that any change in combat sports requires fighters and managers act as active participants who are involved in all issues across the board. […]


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