By Jake Donovan
Less than two months after Bernard Hopkins once again rewrote the history books, the Barclays Center once again plays center stage to a big night of action. Headlining the Brooklyn show on Saturday evening is the very fighter who helped christened the newly erected venue. Danny Garcia returns in a 140 lb. title defense against former two-division champ, Brooklyn’s own Zab Judah.
The bout serves as the headlining act of a Showtime-televised tripleheader.
Garcia (25-0, 16KO) is coming off of a breakthrough campaign in 2012, scoring three title fight wins. None was bigger than his 4th round knockout of Amir Khan last summer, establishing himself as the class of the 140 lb. division.
The last trip to Brooklyn saw controversy for different reasons, as Garcia nearly saw last October’s rematch with Erik Morales canceled after the Mexican boxing legend failed multiple pre-fight drug tests. A clean sample was eventually pushed through, allowing Garcia to take out his frustrations on the faded former star, stopping him in brutal fashion to cap a banner year.
While Garcia enjoyed a steady stream of activity, Judah (42-7, 29KO) has been forced to ride the pine. The Brooklynite has been out of the ring for 13 months, ironically following his first ever fight in his home borough when he lit up previously unbeaten Vernon Paris last March.
The win put Judah back in title contention, and was believed to face Lamont Peterson for a belt last year. However, the offer on the table wasn’t particularly enticing, forcing the veteran to go in a different direction.
From there it became a game of hurry-up-and-wait. Judah agreed to terms for a fight with Garcia, with the two originally to meet this past February. The bout was postponed after Garcia reportedly suffered a rib injury, causing an 11-week delay due to location and TV conflicts. The lengthy gap provided plenty of time for the two camps to exchange unpleasant remarks through the media, through social networks and in person.
Months of trash talk and ridiculous press conference antics are finally over, as the two get to settle their differences in the ring.
The fight comes as part of a busy Saturday for the sport, though viewed by many as the most competitive of the bunch. The staff at Boxingscene.com shares those very sentiments, as indicated by the predictions offered below.
B-SCENE PREDICTIONS – DANNY GARCIA v. ZAB JUDAH
“Zab Judah by decision”
- Damien Acevedo (Judah)
“In an upset I like Zab Judah over Danny Garcia. We've heard the line that the "old Zab is back" and that he's "more focused than ever" before but I think Zab gets to Garcia early. Garcia was getting busted up before catching Khan and also was bloodied up against a past his prime Erik Morales in their 1st encounter. If this fight goes past the 6th then you can throw this prediction out the window. Judah TKO5”
- Ryan Burton (Judah)
“This is as great of an opportunity as any for a Judah upset. The Brooklynite is a fast starter while Garcia takes a couple of rounds to get out the gate. The first four rounds will be crucial for the unbeaten Philly boxer, though he’s shown an ability to handle adversity, a trait historically lacking in Judah’s career. Once the takeover begins, Judah declines and looks for a way out late in the fight, either by stoppage or getting himself disqualified.”
- Jake Donovan (Garcia)
“Garcia TKO6. Judah is such an enigma he could be the type of fighter that gives Garcia issues (fast of hand and foot) but I believe Father Time will betray him and eventually Garcia catches him. We could very well see a score favoring Judah at the time of the stoppage but it will be for nothing.”
- Ernie Gabion (Garcia)
“No question Zab is in the young champion's head. Danny has been in these kinds of head games in his young career so it will be interesting to see how he responds in the ring. Zab has the hometown advantage as well as the psychological advantage while Garcia has youth and strength. The question is will the old Zab Judah show up which could be a possibility since Zab has a chip on his shoulder. This is a tough fight to pick but I will go with Zab UD.”
- Tim Kudgis (Judah)
“With his myriad offensive skills, Zab Judah is the eternal live underdog even this late in his career. However, Danny Garcia has that sneaky type of power, and now that he's had time to have a proper camp after postponing the first time around, I'm picking him here to continue his ascent and ultimately wear Judah down.”
- Ryan Maquinana (Garcia)
“Last July, Amir Khan was supposed to win a dubious vacant Ring title with a victory over Danny Garcia. That same undeserved title will change hands on Saturday. Judah is usually the featured head case in any fight he participates in. Not this time. Garcia's dad is the main head case, and that may be to cover the insecurities of his young protégé. This time, Judah has gotten into the heads of the Garcia's. That boost in confidence will be enough to push Judah in his hometown to win later rounds he may normally give away or outright lose. Judah win 12 by SD.”
- Richard Najdowski (Judah)
“Garcia's old man is so obnoxious it makes one almost want to root for Judah. That said, the son ain't the father and the son is the one who laces them up. Garcia emerged big time last year and showed real growth against Erik Morales and Amir Khan. Now he gets the unpredictable Judah. Judah should give Garcia some tough times in the first five or six rounds, but eventually the steady attack of Garcia will take over. Youth, confidence, and heavy enough hands should carry Garcia to a decision.”
- Cliff Rold (Garcia)
“We've seen through fight week the war of words between the two. Now we will see who can back it up. I've been going back and forth on this. If Judah is able to box and control the distance throughout the fight, then he is able to pull it out. We will see if Garcia gets caught up in all this hoopla. Will he fight a disciplined fight? What happens if he faces adversity early? I've always thought a motivated Judah is a dangerous Judah. I may be in the minority, but I think Judah pulls off the upset, either by decision or TKO.”
- Francisco Salazar (Judah)
“Garcia TKO8 - As great of a game Judah is talking and as much as we want to think "he's back" the truth is he's not. To his credit, he has done a great job selling this fight but I see Danny scoring a stoppage over the Brooklyn native. I think we see Zab start strong but once Danny times his speed, he'll use Zab's aggression against him and start backing him up. Eventually Danny puts him away with his signature looping left hook.”
- Luis Sandoval (Garcia)
“Zab's best days are well behind him, and I cannot see him winning a fight against a younger and much sturdier champion. Garcia takes a punch well. He can also hit presumable much harder than Amir Khan, who was the last to stop Judah. The only fight against a fighter of the championship caliber over the last eight years has been won by Zab via a highly controversial decision. And, surely, Vernon Paris and Kaizer Mabuza aren't in the same league with Garcia. The latter will slowly break Judah down into oblivion.”
- Alexey Sukachev (Garcia)
Totals: Danny Garcia 6, Zab Judah 5
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, Yahoo Boxing Ratings Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox