Borough natives prepare to square off in 'Battle for Brooklyn'
By John Torenli, Sports Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Normally, collecting a world championship belt is the prime motivation when a boxer enters the ring for a major bout.
Come Dec. 7 at Downtown's Barclays Center, Paulie "The Magic Man" Malignaggi and Zab "Super" Judah both readily admit that they will be fighting for the biggest title of their professional careers, even if it doesn't come with a world championship belt.
"It's a really emotional fight," admitted Malignaggi, a two-time world champion out of Bensonhurst.
"You want to be king of Brooklyn. It's the kind of fight you get up for because there are a lot big fights in your career, but there is a lot of extra emotion being able to represent your borough and being able to be the king of Brooklyn. I know I have what it takes to be a world class fighter; I know what it takes to get back to the top. Winning a fight like this and getting myself a chance to get another world championship in my career is something I don't doubt."
Judah, who has five world-title belts in his trophy case, is equally adamant regarding the importance of beating Malignaggi next Saturday night.
"I mean, to be crowned the king of BK, that's a very big accomplishment coming from Brooklyn," the Brownsville native noted. "There's one thing a lot of people will tell you - there's a pride about being from Brooklyn. Now we've got the opportunity in a sport that I've been in for the last 18 years of my life to be called the king of it. I'm excited for this one and that's where the motivation comes from on my part."
Malignaggi is eager to wipe the bad taste out of his mouth from his controversial decision loss to Adrien "The Problem" Broner here in Brooklyn last summer.
But he's also beginning to admit that with each training camp, he feels closer and closer to committing full-time to his job as a ringside analyst for SHOWTIME, which will televise the Dec. 7 Barclays card.
"Sometimes before camp starts you wonder, 'Do I really feel like getting up and starting another training camp?'" admitted the 32-year-old veteran of 37 pro bouts.
"But once I'm in training camp, I do the miles and I put the hours in the gym wholeheartedly. There's never a time where I say I don't want to train today because I could fall back on something. I'm not the kind of person that does something half-assed. If I know I won't do it wholeheartedly I won't do it. When I accepted this fight I knew what that came with."
Judah, who will be stepping into the squared circle for the 52nd time when he squares off against his Brooklyn rival, remains steadfast in his belief that at 36 years of age he can still compete with the world's, as well as this borough's, best.
"No, as far as the age, my age is great," Judah insisted. "I'm highly motivated. You've got one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world, Floyd Mayweather, he's older than me. You've got Juan Manuel Marquez, he just knocked out Manny Pacquiao with one punch, he's older than me. You've got Bernard Hopkins, one of the baddest fighters of today's era, he's my grandfather. So when you say old, what do you mean by old? Old by what, longevity? I've been in the game since I was 18 years old and I've been world champion multiple times in different weight classes."
As both fighters have consistently indicated on their path toward Gleason's Gym for Tuesday's pre-fight media workout, Friday's weigh-in at Barclays and next Saturday night's fight before a potential sellout crowd at the Barclays Center, this bout is for much more than any purse, belt or rise in the rankings.
This one's for Brooklyn.
"I think it's more for the fans," Malignaggi conceded. "It's hard to go back to your fans and say, 'Oh man you're not the best fighter in your borough.' I think the motivation is from there. You fight guys from other cities and you rep your neighborhood, you rep your city real well. I get announced as from Brooklyn, N.Y., regardless of where I've lived in my career because it's a sense of pride."
"Like I said, this is a fight where there's no animosity or anything like that, Judah added. "It's just us going in there and representing for our city."
Read next week's Eagle sports pages for a comprehensive preview of the "Battle for Brooklyn" bout as both fighters' camps descend on our fair borough in advance of the Dec. 7 showdown at the Barclays Center.