Unbeaten Adrien Broner became a champion in his third different weight class on Saturday, beating Paulie Malignaggi by a split decision to take the WBA welterweight title.
Two judges gave the all-US 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 WBC lightweight champion and WBO 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.
“I thought I worked him,” Malignaggi said. “He was sharp in his spots, but he wasn’t busy. He didn’t land a lot of the shots he was taking.”
Broner took the WBC lightweight title in November last year with an eighth-round stoppage of Mexican southpaw Antonio DeMarco and defended it in February, when Welshman Gavin Rees retired in the fifth round.
He won the WBO super featherweight crown in July last year, stopping American Vicente Escobedo in the fifth round for a vacant title.
Malignaggi was making the second defense of the title he took from previously unbeaten Ukraine fighter Vyacheslav Senchenko with a ninth-round stoppage last year in his rival’s homeland.
BIKA VS PERIBAN
AFP, NEW YORK
Cameroon-born Australian Sakio Bika won the World Boxing Council super middleweight crown on Saturday, taking a majority decision over previously undefeated Marco Antonio Periban of Mexico.
Bika, who failed in three prior attempts to claim major world titles, took the vacant WBC throne when two judges scored him the winner by margins of 116-112 and 115-113, while the third judge scored the bout a 114-114 draw.
“It means a lot,” Bika said. “Periban was a very tough guy. I respect him. Like all Mexicans, he comes to fight.”
Bika, 34, improved to 32-5 with two draws while Periban, 28, fell to 20-1 and objected strongly after hearing the decision.
“I won this fight, and the people in the crowd know I won this fight,” Periban said. “He’s not the champion. That’s not justice. He’s going to take that belt, and it’s going to be a lie.”
Bika improved to 4-4 in fights that have gone the full 12 rounds, while Periban had never been past the 10th round before in his career, a factor the Aussie credited for helping him withstand a last-round flurry by the Mexican.
“It was very hard to survive,” Bika said. “I always work hard. When you are working hard, everything comes out right.”
Periban, who suffered a cut on the left side of his head after an accidental head butt in the eighth round, staggered Bika for a moment early in the 12th, but could not capitalize.
“It was definitely a strong fight. I showed my best against him, and I deserved to win,” Periban said. “I’m a better boxer, a cleaner boxer. He started the head butts. He even hit me in the neck one time.”
It was the first world title fight for Periban, but the fourth for Bika, who had lost unanimous decisions to unbeaten American Andre Ward and Welshman Joe Calzaghe and drawn with Germany’s Markus Beyer in the previous three.
The WBC stripped the title from Ward earlier this year, saying he had not fought a mandatory challenger soon enough nor shown proof to support his claim of a shoulder injury that had required surgery.
Bika called out Ward for a rematch after his victory.
“If Andre Ward wants to fight me, come to my manager. I’m ready,” Bika said. “I want to fight him. I want to fight the best.”