Paulie Malignaggi may be a professional boxer boasting a record of 36-8, 7 KOs and world championships in two weight classes, but on Saturday, June 22, 2019 Malignaggi entered the exceptionally small ring in a different capacity–bare knuckle fighting.
It was an interesting decision from a boxing slickster with notoriously fragile hands, however Malignaggi explained his decision to enter Bare Knuckle Fighting Championships beforehand.
“You have more options in some ways, and less options in other ways,” said Malignaggi. “It depends who you are, and what you’re doing. The punches are shorter. There is less loading up on shots. You can be faster–for a speed guy such as myself, it is advantageous.”
Artem Lobov entered the ring as an experienced MMA fighter–making it to the finals on the popular show Ultimate Fighter in 2015–as well as the former teammate of Irish superstar Conor McGregor (with whom Malignaggi famously has bad blood).
Lobov was making the second appearance of his three fight contract with BKFC, having defeated Jason Knight via UD in his first outing.
While the trash talking was rampant on both sides, Lobov appeared anxious for the opening bell to begin the festivities of five, two minute rounds.
Malignaggi started quickly, jumping on Lobov and utilizing his superior hand and foot speed, landing several solid combinations against his southpaw rival, arguably banking the first two rounds on activity and accuracy.
Rounds 3 and 4 saw things tighten a bit as Lobov was able to pressure Malignaggi and land a number of telling blows. Although neither fighter was clearly dominant, the pressure seemed to weigh on the Brooklyn native more.
Round 5 saw Malignaggi fencing with Lobov, trying to make him miss and counter with several straight shots without going on the offensive while the Russian stayed in dogged pursuit.
The end result saw Lobov emerge victorious by unanimous decision with three scores of 48-47, something Malignaggi obviously didn’t agree with.
“I am not sure what the judges were looking at, but I felt like he walked into a lot of my jabs and check left hooks,” said Malignaggi, who also said he suffered a hand injury after Round 2. “Maybe it’s beneath me, but I thought I would give it a shot, give him a shot. Maybe I was wrong. I am 38 years old so I am not interested in campaigning or competing in Bare Knuckle against this loss. I kind of liked the adrenaline rush and it was different, but I am done.”