I’m not sure when one of my all-time favorite boxers, Buddy McGirt, went stupid.
A couple of years ago, he was the flavor of the month. A once brilliant fighter, McGirt was on his way to becoming one of the best trainers in the game. Suddenly, all the guys he was winning with have gone south. Seeing that bald head in the corner is like an invitation to bet on the other guy.
I remember collecting 5/2 odds on him when, in one of the most delicious displays of the sweet science ever performed, he virtually shut out one of those pound-for-pound guys Simon Brown. Heck, I thought so much of McGirt the fighter I bet on him for his rematch with Pernell Whitaker. His marvelous trainer, Al Certo, had a lot to do with that, extolling Buddy’s virtues until I believed he could outbox the purest boxer since Willie Pep.
Then he caught fire as a trainer, convincing me that Antonio Tarver would beat the great Roy Jones Jr. Tarver came close so I stayed with him for the rematch and collected nicely.
McGirt turned around the career of Arturo Gatti, convincing the human highlight film that fighting face first was not always necessary. Buddy has since lost his marbles and Gatti fired him.
Oh, yes, he’s stupid. Tarver can’t beat 40-year-olds who come out of retirement. Just the other week, there was Tomasz Adamek being outboxed by the latest student of Floyd Mayweather Sr., Chad Dawson. And here comes McGirt again with another one of last year’s losers, Paulie Malignaggi.
I could not find any odds, even on mismatches.com, for Malignaggi’s HBO Boxing After Dark appearance next Saturday in New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom. He must be heavily favored against Edner Cherry, a decent journeyman moving up in weight from lightweight to junior welter. With McGirt in the corner, the loquacious New Yorker probably will have a tough time in the main event of the HBO triple-header.
Malignaggi was last seen taking a horrific beating from Miguel Cotto, who later moved up to welterweight and destroyed the capable Carlos Quintana. The undefeated Puerto Rican, who had some close calls at 140, is now an overwhelming minus $25 (to win $1) against his plastic belt mandatory, Urkay Oktal, on March 3.
Malignaggi was worth a bet against Cotto, though with his history of hand problems, it was as if he were armed with pea-shooters in a clash with a battleship. Dumb McGirt. He somehow allowed the fight to take place in a phone booth — a ring measuring 17 feet 3 inches instead of the usual 20 feet.
Actually Buddy didn’t have much say in the matter. The powers that be wanted the probable next Puerto Rican superstar to win. Malignaggi showed great courage and heart in fighting Cotto’s fight, but in the last four rounds he underwent the kind of battering that often ends careers.
That was Malignaggi’s only loss on a 21-1 ledger. Cherry is 21-4-2, but he throws the type of long punches that can catch Paulie as he moves away. If you need action on Feb. 17 and are willing to take a flyer, Cherry should be a live underdog.
The third HBO fight was intended to feature a hot young 140-pound prospect, undefeated Andre Berto, against a worthy trial horse in Ben Tackie. But Tackie fell out and his replacement is not worthy of mention. Neither is the fight.
That leaves us with the second matchup, which is a nice little middleweight contest between two once-beaten fighters. Sechew Powell, who was taken to school by Kassim Ouma (no disgrace in that), should have enough punch and skills to overcome one of the original contenders Ishe Smith. I wouldn’t’ bet on this evenly matched contest unless, of course, McGirt shows up in one of the corners.
Sugar Shay Smith, for example, has lost only a split five-round decision to Sergio Mora in the Contender series. He has beaten such as Randall Bailey and David Estrada. Frankly, it’s a fight I want to see, but not one I’m willing to risk my hard-earned shekels.