ATLANTIC CITY - Paulie Malignaggi successfully defended his IBF junior welterweight title by unanimously outpointing Cameroon's Herman Ngoudjo at Bally's Atlantic City Hotel Casino on Saturday.
The American fighter received scores of 117-111 from judge Al Bennett, 116-113 from Kenny Chevalier and 115-113 from Steve Weisfeld.
"It wasn't one of my better performances, but I felt I won the fight," Malignaggi said. "At the end of the day, I have the heart of a lion and if you don't knock me out, I'm going to stay here."
But it wasn't easy.
Malignaggi (24-1, 5 KOs) and Ngoudjo (16-2, 9 KOs) treated a sellout crowd at Bally's ballroom to an exciting fight, with the outcome in doubt until Malignaggi appeared to take control in the later rounds.
Ngoudjo, based in Canada, came forward at every opportunity in the first half of the fight. Malignaggi tried to establish his jab early, but Ngoudjo's aggressiveness and effective counter-punching frequently had Malignaggi retreating.
"I actually thought he would be more aggressive," Malignaggi said. "But he wasn't and I tried to be and wound up running into some punches."
Ngoudjo, ignoring the chants of "Paulie! Paulie!" from the fans, opened the seventh round with a right hand that sent sweat and gobs of gel flying from Malignaggi's blond-streaked hair. He rocked him again with a left and a right and eventually widened a cut in the corner of Malignaggi's left eyelid. - Sapa-AP