NEW YORK: Unbeaten Adrien Broner became a champion in his third different weight class on Saturday (Sunday in Manila), beating Paulie Malignaggi by a split decision to take the World Boxing Association welterweight title.
Two judges gave the all-American showdown of rival champions to Broner by scores of 117-111 and 115-113, while the third saw Malignaggi a 115-113 winner.
Broner, also the reigning World Boxing Council lightweight champion and World Boxing Organization super featherweight champion, improved to 27-0 after stepping up two weight divisions to fight Malignaggi in his hometown.
Broner joined Roberto Duran, Roy Jones Jr. and Robert Guerrero as the only fighters to win a world title in their first bout after jumping up two weight classes to fight.
“It’s a tremendous accomplishment,” Broner said. “Who’s doing it like me in the game? Nobody.”
Malignaggi, nine years older than his opponent at age 32, fell to 32-5 and complained about the most lopsided judge’s decision against him.
“That was disgraceful. This was a close fight,” Malignaggi said. “The fight could have went either way. I don’t think he did enough to take the belt from the champion tonight.
“I’m not saying it was fixed, but the politically more connected fighter always gets the close decisions.”
Broner went past 10 rounds in a fight for the first time in his career while Malignaggi went 12 rounds for the eighth time in his career.
“Paulie fought exactly how I thought he was going to fight — once he saw my power, he got on his bicycle, and I had to cut him off the whole fight. I didn’t have to use my footwork. He ran. All I had to do was cut off the ring,” Broner said.
“He couldn’t hit me. He was shadow boxing.”
Malignaggi said Broner would rest through many of the rounds, his punches looking worse than they were and causing little damage.