By Rick Reeno
BoxingScene.com had been advised that the "Battle of Brooklyn" is on. Former champions Paulie Malignaggi (32-5, 7KOs) and Zab Judah (42-8, 29KOs) have reached an agreement to fight each other in a welterweight showdown on December 7th at the Brooklyn's Barclays Center. Showtime will televise.
Both fighters are coming off competitive defeats.
Judah lost a twelve round unanimous decision to WBA/WBC junior welterweight champion Danny Garcia in April. Judah survived an eight round knockdown and came back to rock Garcia in the later rounds.
Malignaggi lost a spirited twelve round split decision to Adrien Broner in June. The strong effort by Malignaggi spoiled Broner's anticipated big splash at 147-pounds.
Golden Boy Promotions Richard Schaefer had been working on the fight for several weeks. Initially there were monetary concerns on the side of Malignaggi and the fight appeared to be in jeopardy of being scrapped, but the "Magic Man" tells BoxingScene that everything has been resolved.
"The fight is made. As far as I know Zab has accepted and I've accepted the terms. The battle of Brooklyn. This is what it's all about. The Barclays arena was not just set up for basketball but for boxing. This is a fight with two fighters from Brooklyn, who made their legacies and their names from Brooklyn, two former world champions and we'll see who is the best Brooklyn fighter of this generation. It's for bragging rights, respect," Malignaggi told BoxingScene.com.
"It's a fight that could really cause a Brooklyn civil war in a way because it's a boundary battle. We're both from the same borough but now everybody is going to have to take sides. At the end of the day, the fact that me and Zab are both from Brooklyn it gives us this chance to have this fight at the Barclays arena. Sometimes life is about circumstances and timing. If me and Zab both weren't from Brooklyn, this fight probably wouldn't happen or wouldn't be as big. Me and Zab are both coming off losses but we're coming off losses where we both looked good. And being in our 30's, we showed that we still have a lot to give. It's a turf war, a grudge match."
When Malignaggi made his pro debut in July of 2001, he never anticipated that one day he would be facing Judah - who at that point was the IBF 140-pound champion and a pro since September 1996.
"I never imagine it up until the last few years when people start saying Malignaggi and Zab would be a good fight. It never crossed my mind up until a few years ago. When I started boxing Zab was already a pro. I started boxing late. I remember hearing about Zab Judah in the gyms when he was a young phenom, already a pro with an undefeated record. I was literally a kid who wanted to box. I watched him sparring a couple of times. He used to train late. I used to come early in the morning. A couple of times I stayed late just to see him spar. I remember thinking 'wow, this guy is amazing.' I watched him my whole career and I made my own name over the years," Malignaggi said.
One possible fight to get paired up with Malignaggi-Judah is a battle of welterweight sluggers - with undefeated Keith Thurman (21-0, 19KOs) taking Jesus Soto Karass (28-8-2, 18KOs), but that fight has yet to be confirmed for the date.
Malignaggi hopes the fight gets finalized and lands on the Barclays card.
"That's a good fight. Keith Thurman is a young guy who makes exciting fights. He's must see TV. You can't blink when Keith Thurman is in the ring because you might miss a good knockout. And Soto Karass keeps upsetting the applecart and lately he's really been making a name for himself by doing those kind of things. I think styles make fights and I think that's a dynamite fight," Malignaggi said.