Boxing returns to Brooklyn’s Barclays Center this Saturday night, as two of the borough’s biggest stars, Paulie Malignaggi and Zab Judah, face off for supremacy.
Both fighters are brash, outspoken, and looking for one more major title bout. That alone should make for an electric scene Saturday night.
But both are also coming off solid bouts, albeit losses for Maliganggi against Adrien Broner, and Judah against Danny Garcia.
The two men for all their talking don’t hate each other, and generally have a unique respect for what they are about to embark on.
“Zab is a guy I admired especially when I was an amateur, when I was on the way up. This is a guy who motivated me just being from the region.”
“I had a jumpstart on the career first. I was champion of the world before he turned professional. 18 years that I’ve been a solid professional. I’ve had a great career. Five world titles, two different weight classes. Fought some of the biggest and the best guys in boxing today. Cotto fight. Floyd fight.”
Malignaggi and Judah have both fought at the world-class level at 140 and 147 over the past decade. Malignaggi may be the less talented of the two, but he’s a slick technical boxer who gets by on excellent defensive footwork, and movement.
What Paulie lacks in power, he makes up for in at getting the angle on his opponents and delivers punches in quick, accurate combinations.
Malignaggi has an underrated chin, and performs well under pressure from some of the better fighters in the world. I expect Judah to use his speed and athleticism to try and apply pressure early to Malignaggie. Paulie on the other hand will probably try his best to ward off the onslaught of Judah, while waiting for Zab to run out of gas, as has been the status quo for several of his recent fights.
Malignaggi needs to make Judah miss and then come back with aggressive multi-punch combinations. He’s going to need to make it an active, busy fight and simply wear Judah down in the later rounds.
Judah will need to apply smart pressure to Malignaggi, but not to the point where he gets caught with a shot that will have him doing the infamous Judah dance.
Zab would be wise to utilize body shots as well as his famed jab. This fight in my opinon will figure squarely on Judah’s conditioning and how well he can maintain it in front of the home crowd.
Pride and bragging rights alone should make this a compelling and formidable feature main event. I can see both fighters having the upper hand at some point in the bout, but I give it to Judah in the end simply because of his advantage in speed and punching power.
I have it 7 rounds to 5, 115-113 Judah.
JUDAH VS. MALIGNAGGI FIGHT CARD:
Zab Judah (42-8; 29 KOs) vs. Paulie Malignaggi (32-5; 7 KOs) – Welterweight (147 lbs)
Devon Alexander (25-1; 14 KOs) vs. Shawn Porter (22-0-1; 14 KOs) – Welterweight (147 lbs)
Austin Trout (26-1; 14 KOs) vs. Erislandy Lara (18-1-2; 12 KOs) – Light Middleweight (154 lbs)
Sakio Bika (35-5-2; 21 KOs) vs. Anthony Dirrell (26-0; 22 KOs) – Super Middleweight (168 lbs)