By Jake Donovan
The Battle of Brooklyn suggests hometown bragging rights, but actually means so much more for Paul Malignaggi and Zab Judah.
The two square off in tonight’s main event at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, both in need of a win to close out a 2013 campaign that has otherwise played in line with many of New York’s sports franchises over the course of this calendar year.
Both fighters dropped their most recent fights at the venue. Malignaggi (32-5, 7KO) saw his welterweight title reign come to an end, falling short to Adrien Broner in their June affair that serves as one of the highest rated broadcasts of 2013. The loss and the politics surrounding the fight prompted Bensonhurst’s finest to bite the bullet and sign with boxing powerbroker Al Haymon.
Malignaggi’s lone other appearance at Barclays – aside from his role as a Showtime commentator – was a disputed decision over Pablo Cano in the venue’s inaugural boxing event last October.
Judah (42-8, 29KO) was valiant in defeat in his lone appearance at Barclays, climbing off the canvas to offer a competitive – albeit losing – effort versus Danny Garcia this past April. Every fight is suggested as the Brownsville boxer’s ninth life, but the former two-division champ continues to remain afloat, managing a meaningful win every time he’s knocked down a rung or two.
Which fighter goes on to remain relevant in the sport’s most lucrative division, and which will need to start thinking about life beyond boxing in 2014?
Read on to see how the Boxingscene.com staff believes the Showtime-televised main event plays out.
PREDICTIONS – AUSTIN TROUT vs. ERISLANDY LARA
“Brooklyn wins, no matter what. Give me Paulie to pull this one off.”
- Damien Acevedo (Malignaggi SD)
“I also like Zab to try for a knockout early and when he sees that Paulie isn't going anywhere, boxes his way to a decision victory.”
- Mitch Abramson (Judah UD)
“To me this is a toss-up fight and a lot depends on which Judah shows up. I think Paulie edges it out in what may end up being a controversial decision.”
- Ryan Burton (Malignaggi SD)
“The unpredictability of both fighters makes this a coin-toss pick. No matter what happens, the loser will find reason to bitch about the decision. I look for Zab to start strong, but fade after six, with slow and steady winning the race for Malignaggi in a 115-113 type of fight.”
- Jake Donovan (Malignaggi UD)
“The aspect that Malignaggi simply does not hit hard enough to deter Judah will be the key factor in this fight. Judah can at times get overly cautious with opponents with some pop in their fists and with Malignaggi there should very little concern about that. Judah can match Malignaggi in speed and if he stays on track should win comfortably.”
- Ernest Gabion (Judah UD)
“A few years ago, I would've gone with Zab Judah in this battle for the Brooklyn borough, but as of today, I feel he's just a step slower -- just enough to help Paulie Malignaggi win enough exchanges, and thus, rounds, to edge the decision.”
- Ryan Maquinana (Malignaggi by decision)
“If Malignaggi had any power at all, he could hit Judah enough to stop him late. As it is, Judah will not be deterred by Paulie's punches, and Paulie will occasionally be rocked by Judah's punches.”
- Richard Najdowski (Judah SD)
“Paulie has always struggled to defeat men at a certain level. Judah is a fighter who flirts with that level. While never consistent, Judah has more speed and power and should be too strong for Paulie.”
- Cliff Rold (Judah by decision)
“I think Judah’s experience will be crucial and he will beat Malignaggi.”
- Reynaldo Sanchez (Judah UD)
“This is one classic crossroads fight. It’s also a horrible stylistic match-up, which will be realized as a stinking chess-match, with a younger and more elusive boxer getting an edge over the long-fading veteran.”
- Alexey Sukachev (Malignaggi SD)
Paul Malignaggi 5
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