Paulie Malignaggi fought about as well as he could on Saturday night against Adrien Broner. This turned out to be well enough to hang around, entertainingly and impressively and impressively mohawk-edly, for 12 rounds. It was also just well enough to wind up on the short end of a split decision that gave the undefeated Broner what had been Malignaggi's WBA Welterweight championship belt. All of this was, give or take a few Malignaggi combinations, more or less what was expected.
The 23-year-old Broner seems pretty great, the 32-year-old Malignaggi is not quite great but does have a unique haircut, and things went more or less as they were supposed to. Until Showtime's Jim Gray got involved. It's probably not fair to blame all this on Gray, as Malignaggi and Broner had done more than the requisite amount of smug-eyed reality TV trash talking before the fight. But it's hard to overstate the enduring power of Gray's trollvibes.
Gray has lost a step since his Pete Rose-baiting glory days, maybe, but he remains one of the greatest trolls in sports broadcasting. And while he did nothing in particular to bait Adrien Broner during his post-fight interview, Gray still dragged a moment of batshit ill-judgment out of the new Welterweight champ. After Broner showed off some elite boxing interview skills -- surprisingly high voice; extreme dude-jewelry; idiosyncratic "negative"-instead-of-no syntax decisions -- he delivered what he evidently believed was the knockout blow that had eluded him all night. "I'm good," Broner said in response to Gray's question about whether he regretted any of the pre-fight trash talk. "I beat Paulie, I left with his belt and his girl." At which point Malignaggi re-entered the picture. At which point things got very interesting and more than a little Real Housewives and very shouty.
So there was also all that. It might be worth mentioning that the chortling Oh Snap No He Didn't dude over Broner's left shoulder after he (um) brags about (um) taking Malignaggi's (um) side piece is Broner's father. Also that Malignaggi later went on to imply -- if not quite say, when Gray asked him outright -- that the fight was fixed against him. "Boxing's always full of shit," Malignaggi concluded at the end of his interview. That is one way to look at it, and maybe not a wrong way to look at it. It might be easier just to blame Jim Gray.