Danny Garcia had no trouble stepping up in weight to 147 pounds Saturday night.
He gained a ninth-round technical knockout of Paulie Malignaggi at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, likely ending the career of the former two-division champion and hometown hero.
“I wanted to walk him down, let my hands go, cut off the ring and dominate," Danny Garcia said. “We had to get away from his jab, because I knew he was going to use his footwork. The jab and the right hook to the body were effective and the right to the head. I stayed smart, composed, didn't get desperate and let the knockout come."
Malignaggi was cut on the right eyelid by the third round, and had a large welt beneath the eye by the sixth that stretched into a deep gash by the end of the fight.
Malignaggi was being hammered when referee Arthur Mercante Jr. stepped in and wrapped his arms around him, signaling the end at the 2:22 mark of the ninth.
"I’m in there to protect the fighter. I didn’t want to see him get hurt anymore,” said Mercante, who summoned a ringside doctor to examine Malignaggi after the eighth. “Paulie was taking a lot of shots to the head and had nothing on his punches while the other kid was coming on stronger.”
Malignaggi’s corner was poised to throw in the towel when Mercante stopped the fight.
“That shot in the last round hit me in my ear and I went off balance. I’m competitive and want to go out on my shield," Malignaggi said. "In the moment, I didn’t agree with the stoppage, but in hindsight, I agreed with it. No excuses.”
Garcia’s performance occurred with his girlfriend, Erica Mendez, sitting pregnant at ringside and expecting the birth of their daughter on August 11.
“I can’t lie, it was on my mind. It would be crazy and historic for her to have given birth at the fight,” said Garcia (31-0, 18 KOs), who defended his 140-pound title five times before stepping up in weight. “It’s a good thing that the baby wasn’t born. Now, I can just relax and do it the right way.”
On the other side, Malignaggi (33-7, 7 KOs) sounded like this was the end to a brilliant career in which he won world titles at 140 and 147 pounds, but lost three of his last four fights.
“I think so. What else am I going to prove? I don’t have the legs I used to. I don’t fight backwards as well, but that’s part of getting older,” said Malignaggi, who also works as a TV boxing analyst.
“Danny told me after the fight, ‘Man, you can still beat a lot of guys.’ I was once an elite-level championship guy, but I’m starting to become that pesky, crafty guy that comes up short. I don’t want to be that guy."
For complete coverage of Garcia vs Malignaggi, visit our fight page.