Boxing: Barclays Center

Ali, Browne ready for Barclays bouts

September, 26, 2013
9/26/13
5:01
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Barclays Center will stage its fifth fight night on Monday, with a card unfolding in the Cushman & Wakefield Theater, topped by a Sadam Ali-Jay Krupp main event.

[+] EnlargeSadam Ali
AP Photo/Gregory PayanSadam Ali
Ali and others on the bill, including Staten Island's Marcus Browne, showed up at Gleason's in DUMBO on Thursday to hype the Golden Boy event.

Ali, a Brooklyn resident who had a place on the 2008 U.S. Olympic squad, has taken his time to get to this place. He staged his own cards and stayed independent until he and his father/manager, Mahmoud, who stood next to the 25-year-old hitter while he chatted with NYFightblog, found the right terms. I asked Sadam if he had ever gotten impatient, to the point of severe frustration, since turning pro in March 2010 and seeing some other folks who arguably might not be as skilled as he is get signed to promotional deals.

"No," he said, "not at all. I knew this day would come."

And what about the father?

"Of course I did," the father admitted with a tiny grin. "I'm just always wanting what's best for my son."

The 16-0 welterweight takes on the 17-5 Krupp, who features a Mike Tyson-style peek-a-boo look he honed under ex-Tyson trainer Kevin Rooney. Ali didn't seem phased by the Tyson talk. "He can't peek-a-boo me if he can't see me," Ali said.

The 22-year-old Browne finished skipping rope, and I approached him for a quick chat. What if, I said, you upstage your pal Sadam, I asked. Will you feel bad?

"Of course not," the 6-0 light heavy said. "That's what you're supposed to do! Boxing isn't a team sport." Browne takes on 5-1-1 Lamont Williams, who is a half-step up from anyone he has tangled with before as a pro.

All the fighters seemed to be on message, and Ali, for one, was tested. Thursday was his birthday, and publicist Kelly Swanson presented him with a cupcake.

"I can't eat it," Ali said. "I'll eat it after the fight."
Luis CollazoElsa/Getty ImagesLuis Collazo, right, hopes that a win on Monday yields an Adrien Broner or Keith Thurman matchup.

It's Labor Day Weekend, and for many, there is no resting their weary bones or minds. There will be some rest, but not much, for Brooklyn-born Queens resident Luis Collazo as he counts down to a Monday contest in Texas.

The 33-year-old former welterweight titlist, who is keen on getting back to that apex he enjoyed in 2005, is fighting Alan Sanchez at Cowboys Dance Hall in San Antonio (Fox Sports 1).

Collazo (33-5, 17 KOs) hasn't had to go far to fight of late. His two most recent contests -- wins against Steve Upsher Chambers last October and Miguel Callist in April -- came at Brooklyn's Barclays Center.

I recently reached out to Collazo and asked him what brought him to Texas for a Labor Day weekend gig.

"I was originally supposed to fight Shawn Porter," he said. "I said yes, but it fell through. So this was another fight Golden Boy came up with. I just want to fight. This is something I love doing. I like entertaining the fans."

Collazo will be fighting Sanchez (12-2-1, 6 KOs), of Fairfield, Calif., for a minor welterweight title.

"Alan Sanchez is tough, young and hungry," said Wilson Oswaldo Naranjo, Collazo's manager. He's coming off of seven straight wins. But we are pretty confident."

And if Collazo wins, what's next? Is he nearing a title shot? "I'm not sure of the promoters' plan, but I know my plan. That's to bring the belt home, back home to Brooklyn," Collazo said. "That's my plan."

Naranjo clued me in a bit more: "After the win, we would like to fight Keith Thurman or Adrien Broner."

Broner is expected to clash with Marcos Maidana next. Thurman (21-0, 19 KOs), who holds a welterweight world title and doesn't yet have a scrap set, would seem to be the smart bet for Collazo.
Barclays Center's commitment to boxing is reaching another level, with word that Golden Boy will be putting on a show at the Cushman and Wakefield Theater, a smaller venue within the building, on Sept. 30.

Sadam Ali, a new signee to Golden Boy, will make his promotional debut on the card.

A Carlos Molina-Michael Perez bout will also be featured, and Staten Island's Marcus Browne will return to the ring as well. Fox will televise portions of the Monday evening promotion.

The event is being promoted as an anniversary fete for the building. Jay Z kicked open the doors with a gig on Sept. 28, 2012.

"There's no place like home," said Ali (16-0, 10 KOs), who had been acting as his own promoter. "I've seen some great fights at Barclays Center and I have waited for my name to be called to fight here. Now that day has come and I couldn't be more excited. This is going to be a performance and a win you won't forget."

Welterweight Ali was a heralded amateur, a two-time N.Y. Golden Gloves champ, a two-time National Golden Gloves winner and a member of the 2008 US Olympics squad. He turned pro in January 2009. His foe on Sept. 30 will be Jay Krupp (17-5, 8 KOs), a Louisiana-born hitter who lives in Catskill, N.Y., and has been trained by ex-Mike Tyson trainer Kevin Rooney. "I'm part of the Cus D'Amato legacy," Krupp has said, speaking of the sage who molded young Tyson into "Kid Dynamite."

Perez (18-1-2, 10 KOs), a 23-year-old Jersey boy (Newark), will meet Molina (17-1-1, 7 KOs), the 27-year-old Californian who fought Amir Khan and was stopped in Round 10 of their Dec. 15, 2012 faceoff. A junior welter title will be up for grabs.
The news that he was headlining the first Golden Boy show at the Best Buy Theater in Manhattan, on Aug. 19, didn't drive Danny Jacobs to tears ... but it came darn close.

The 26-year-old middleweight contender will meet Giovanni Lorenzo, a perennial title challenger, in the first of 24 cards that will run on Fox Sports 1 on Monday nights. When Jacobs (25-1 with 22 KOs) learned that he would be topping the bill, he held off tears and recalled his lowest moment a few years ago, when cancer had him on the verge of a TKO.

"It was a couple days after my surgery," he said, referring to the procedure that removed a tumor on his spine in May 2011. "I was in bed, I couldn't move my legs at all, I was about 230 pounds, I was completely down. I started crying. I felt like my life was over, that I'd never be able to box again, that I'd never be able to take care of my child the way I wanted to. Fast forward to today, it's so amazing."

Jacobs did interview after interview at a press conference held at Planet Hollywood on Tuesday to trumpet the card and the series. He had to pinch himself, make sure it wasn't a dream. "I come from Brownsville! What? We don't ever get these opportunities! I want to make the best of the opportunity."

I admit, I didn't think it was any kind of sure bet when Jacobs said he was coming back to boxing after the cancer fight that he would ever get past an inaugural return to the ring. Guess what? He didn't know that he would either. "I didn't know how I was going to perform," he admitted. "It was 50-50. I could have had a frail chin, or not the same power I had before." No worries; he's stopped all three of his foes since his return.

Being a smart soul, he knows not to get ahead of himself and look past the durable, Dominican-born Lorenzo (32-5 with 24 KOs; age 32). But yes, Jacobs admits, he has allowed himself to drift off and fantasize about winning the middleweight crown at Barclays Center.

"I do think about that opportunity," he said. "Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer said when I fought for a world title, I'd win it at Barclays. I believe that. Whoever they put in front of me, it will be historic."

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Paulie Malignaggi, Adrien Broner Al Bello/Getty ImagesCould we see a Paulie Malignaggi and Adrien Broner rematch sometime in the future?
Paulie Malignaggi, many smart and studied boxing folks said leading up to his June 22 clash with Adrien Broner, was quite likely to get steamrolled into oblivion at the Barclays Center. Broner -- the younger, stronger, faster fighter -- would be a bridge too far for the Brooklyn-bred Malignaggi, who turns 33 in November. The fight itself would be simply a formality, a torch-wresting exercise, they reasoned.

It didn't play out that way, as is often the case.

Then-welterweight titlist Malignaggi didn't disgrace himself in the least and proved he wasn't in over his head against a man tabbed by some as a leading contender to be the sport's top performer within a few years. One judge, Tom Miller, was taken with Malignaggi's showing, especially his volume edge, and scored the fight for the vet 115-113. He was outvoted by Tom Schreck (117-111) and Glenn Feldman (115-113), who both decided Broner's power edge spoke louder than Paulie's busy work.

In the week after the bout, Team Malignaggi litigated the scrap, making their case that Broner didn't win and in fact was exposed as an overhyped attraction, and pushed for a rematch.

Malignaggi adviser Anthony Catanzaro makes some solid points when he lobbies for a rematch:

It was a success at the gate, with 11,461 fight fans showing up at Barclays Center to take in the card that night, he pointed out. Also, the headline clash drew a peak of 1.3 million viewers during the broadcast on Showtime, he noted. Since Showtime began tracking individual fights in 2009, Broner-Malignaggi is its second highest-rated bout, trailing only Austin Trout's victory over Miguel Cotto in December. This being the boxing business, that the fight did well in that arena looms large. Money and eyeballs were generated, which has to factor into a decision to do it again.

"It was a very entertaining fight that Paulie won, so why not?" Catanzaro said to NYFightBlog.

Barclays and Nets CEO Brett Yormark told me he thought Malignaggi won as well, so Catanzaro has good backup to point to.

I'd be curious to see what Malignaggi could and would do differently in a sequel. From my semi-expert seat, I think he'd have to at least consider factoring in that many, if not most, judges prize power over volume and might have to alter his strategy to attack the body and sub in more head shots. That could open him up to fire and potentially make a more explosive, and less tactical, bout.

What are your thoughts?
Back in July 2010, when the people from the Brooklyn arena that hadn't been built yet, Barclays Center, announced they were getting into boxing, with an exclusive deal with California-based Golden Boy Promotions, it's fair to say the reaction wasn't shock, awe and optimism across the board.

After all, the topic was boxing, that much-maligned throwback sport whose best days were in the rearview mirror of the Camaro. A niche sport, they sniffed, relevant once or twice a year -- and probably for not that much longer, once Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao packed it in.

I confess, I had doubts myself, whether the NYC region would sustain the demand for regular dates at the Barclays Center. At the time, I recall asking Brett Yormark, the CEO of Barclays Center and the Brooklyn Nets, if the arena would have a micro-arena built, a theater to accommodate 5,000 or so fans, max. The implication of my question was clear: I don't think you can find enough boxing fans to fill up the barn on a regular basis. He assured me then that there would be no mini arena and that the fans would come.

Fast forward to today; I admit my skepticism was misguided. Barclays and Golden Boy has put on four boxing shows, the most recent one taking place on June 22, topped by a Paulie Malignaggi-Adrien Broner welterweight tussle. The attendance for each event has been healthy, and 11,461 people watched Broner take a split decision from the Brooklyn native.

I sat down last week for a chat with Yormark and asked him to reflect on the journey, getting boxing back to being more of focal point, not just a side dish, in the region.

"In some respects I feel vindicated," he said. "We've been able to do exactly what we hoped for, and more, and that's to bring an incredible sport back to Brooklyn, where it has a heritage, and have it flourish. And in less than a year we've been able to do that."

The grumblers, the tear-down artists, were out in force at the start. Boxing debuted on Oct. 20, 2012 at Barclays, and the "I told you so" crowd noted that they saw ticket markdowns and package deals available everywhere in the weeks leading up to opening night. They cited that as proof the endeavor would fail. In fact, audience response has been quite respectable, Yormark said. The first show drew 11,112; the second, on March 9, 2013 drew 12,293; the third, on April 27, drew 13,048. All the main events and select undercard bouts were televised on Showtime.

Critics mumble under their breathe that those figures represent a large dose of "comps," or freebies, to paper the house. Not so, Yormark told me.

"We did not comp," he said. "We're not comping. There are very few comps. The first two fights we discounted probably a little more than we wanted to, but we have not comped. We don't believe in comping here. One of the things we had to learn, we had to learn price it right, and in the last two fights, I think we really priced it right."

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NEW YORK -- Promoter Richard Schaefer breathed a sigh of relief when the Friday weigh-in for the Saturday card at Barclays Center concluded, and no premature violence broke out.

The event unfolded at Brooklyn Borough Hall Outdoor Plaza. Welterweight titlist Paulie Malignaggi and up-from-lightweight Adrien Broner talked trash and glared at each other, but held it together and no melee occurred.

Schaefer's ace in the hole is fighter Bernard Hopkins, who works for Golden Boy and was right there, in between the main-event boxers as they did a staredown after making weight. "I can take a step back and I don't have to worry about it and I know Bernard will have it under control," Schaefer said. "He's my secret weapon."

Schaefer said he thinks some last-minute smart money will go toward Malignaggi, and the 11-to-1 odds in favor of Cincinnati boxer Broner set by the smarts might be too high.

If Broner beats Malignaggi, a scrap with Marcos Maidana could be in the works, Schaefer said. "Who wouldn't want to see that?" he asked.

Other possibilities for Broner, if he prevails, include the Andre Berto-Jesus Soto Karass winner; Devon Alexander; Amir Khan; or veteran Shane Mosley, who won in his comeback fight against Pablo Cano last month.

Schaefer also said that the winner of a Danny Garcia-Lucas Matthysse fight, which Schaefer is working on, would be a good fit against Broner.

Asked about the rumor that 140-pound standout Garcia is more likely to first have a rematch with Zab Judah than meet Matthysse, his mandatory, Schaefer said, "I don't know where those rumors came from about Zab."

He said both teams indicated to him that they want to get it on. Judah will be in the mix again soon, the promoter said, but the people are demanding Garcia-Matthysse. "I don't believe in marinating too much," he said.

Adrien Broner admits that Floyd Mayweather Jr. is his role model. He regularly calls Mayweather "big bro," asks the pound-for-pound ace for advice and is exceedingly humble (for him) in admitting that Mayweather is boxing's top dog (for now anyway).

But Broner has also told the world that he sees himself as the sport's driver in the near future. To be the man, it makes sense for him to beat the man, right?

A Mayweather-Broner fight has been discussed in barrooms and chat rooms for a couple of years, but the issue becomes more salient now that Broner has leaped from 135 pounds to 147 pounds -- Mayweather territory. But Broner shut down the possibility of a Mayweather clash when asked at a Tuesday media gathering at Gleason's Gym in Dumbo, N.Y., ahead of Saturday's card, topped by a fight between Broner and welterweight titlist and Brooklyn native Paulie Malignaggi.

"My big brother got his legacy, I got mine," Broner said. "I want to see him retire undefeated. I don't want to hand him a loss."

But I do recall Broner having declared he wants to gross a billion dollars when all is said and done. It's a given that a fight with Mayweather would bring him $10 million dollars or so closer to that goal. That doesn't entice him.

"It's not about money," Broner declared. "I ain't hungry, I'm fine."

Both Broner and Mayweather will contradict themselves, a stance they took in days past, and leave fans and naysayers alike puzzling it out, trying to decipher their words and actions.

Danny Jacobs cancer-free, elated

April, 24, 2013
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Danny JacobsTom Casino/ShowtimeAfter a recent scare, Danny Jacobs was determined to be cancer-free and ready for Saturday's fight.

Danny Jacobs, the middleweight prospect from Brownsville who will fight Saturday night at Brooklyn's Barclays Center against 36-year-old Keenan Collins (15-7-3, 10 KOs), of York, Pa., felt a lump in his back a few weeks ago and an alarm bell went off. A tumor on his spine nearly killed the 26-year-old Park Slope resident two years ago.

So about a week ago he went to see a doctor, who did tests and came back with the immensely gratifying news: no cancer. The lump arose just from the stress of training, Jacobs (24-1, 21 KOs) told NYFightblog on Tuesday at the Judah Brothers Gym in East New York, during a press event to hype Saturday's Showtime card topped by Danny Garcia-Zab Judah.

"I'm glad I got it checked out; now I can go into the fight with a clean mind," said Jacobs, who has been working hard to get his Get in the Ring Foundation -- which targets cancer, childhood obesity and bullying -- off the ground.

I asked Jacobs, does the possibility of a recurrence stick in your head? "Every day," said the man who was diagnosed in May 2011, with admirable and appreciated candor. "Every day."
Welterweight titlist Paulie Malignaggi has been all over the fight week buildup for Saturday's Canelo Alvarez-Austin Trout clash, hosting the public workout in front of the Alamo on Wednesday and talking with fans and media at Friday's sun-drenched weigh-in in downtown Market Square. He's in San Antonio, of course, in his capacity as expert analyst for the Showtime broadcast, and accordingly he has been giving some thought to the possible ebbs and flows of tomorrow's bout.

"Well, I think for Canelo it's important to try and work his way inside, so he's able to throw hooks inside to the body," Malignaggi told ESPN.com. "I think Canelo has faster hands, but Trout is a tricky guy -- very slick, very slippery, he's very crafty. The trick will be, will Trout's craftiness disallow Canelo from getting inside to work? Because if Canelo can get close enough, his fast hands could cause problems for Trout. But Trout is very shifty, and if Trout doesn't let Canelo get in punching range, it could be a long night for Canelo."

If the key to real estate is location, location, location, Malignaggi offers that Saturday's contest is all about distance, distance, distance.

"So it's one way or the other, depending on who had the best preparation and who can match up that distance better," he said. "Because if Trout can be the master of the distance, it's Trout's fight. If Canelo starts to get close to him, it's Canelo's night. It goes down to who's mastering their game plan better. It seems Trout has the better feet, but Canelo has the faster hands. It's tricky to predict."

"The Magic Man" doesn't think Saturday's fight will necessarily be the sort that offers an immediately apparent outcome. Even if one man begins in the ascendant, he argues, fans shouldn't be surprised if the advantage changes hands frequently over the course of the contest.

"I think it's back-and-forth," he said. "I think we're going to see a lot of momentum changes. I think it's going to be a good fight. I think it's going to be an entertaining fight."

Malignaggi will be ringside again next week, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn for Danny Garcia's junior welterweight title defense against Zab Judah. But he'll be there not only as an analyst but also as a participant in a media conference to officially announce his June 22 matchup, at the same venue, with lightweight titleholder and fellow pound-for-pound trash-talker Adrien Broner.

"Yes, yes," he confirmed. "It's signed, sealed and delivered. It's going to be cool. Absolutely, man, it's my house, so we'll give him a big welcome."

Hatton looks to Malignaggi next

November, 19, 2012
11/19/12
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On a Monday conference call to hype his Saturday comeback fight against Vyacheslav Senchenko, beloved Brit pugilistic icon Ricky Hatton said he was keen on meeting Paul Malignaggi, in Brooklyn, N.Y., for his next bout if things go smoothly Saturday in England.

An everyman figure who made it no secret that, like the majority of us regular souls, he was prone to too many plates of takeout and excessive pints, Hatton, 34, last fought in May 2009. He got blown out by Manny Pacquiao in two rounds and spiraled into a pit of despair following that. He battled substance abuse and several times on the call referenced multiple suicide attempts. Hatton said that by climbing out of that quagmire he has already won a battle. He expects to be in good enough form to beat Senchenko at Manchester Arena.

Then, he'd love a scrap with Malignaggi. Maybe right after the comeback bout, in the U.S. or England?

"It's the easiest one to make," Hatton said, "because of [Malignaggi's] history with Golden Boy. I'd like to come to fight in New York. I like new challenges. It's nice that my fans follow me around the world [and] take over the place."

Hatton beat Malignaggi via 11th-round TKO in 2008. That bout sticks in the Brooklyner's craw. "I would love to see Ricky look spectacular on Saturday night, to build it up goo,d" said Malignaggi, who holds the welterweight crown he took off Senchenko in April. "I'm in Malta now and heading to England tomorrow. I will be at Hatton's fight, working with Primetime on the U.K. broadcast of the fight."

Senchenko, 35, is no pup, but he hasn't been retired, as Hatton has. It's anyone's guess -- and that includes Hatton's -- on how many layers of rust have accumulated on "The Hitman." This comeback could easily be a one and done.

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