Boxing: Gleason's

'White Collar Brawlers' glove up at Gleason's

February, 25, 2014
2/25/14
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Feeling mentally and emotionally unstable? Seasonal affective disorder infecting your body and soul, giving you a case of the ultra blahs? You could trundle yourself off to see a shrink, or you could apply to be a contestant on season two of "White Collar Brawlers," a reality show which will be offered on the Esquire Network.

The concept is this: two adversaries, two folks who find themselves knocking heads or egos at a workplace, square off in a ring, and duke it out, in a sanctioned amateur scrap. They train for 10 weeks, first, at the famed Brooklyn fight factory, Gleason's, and are overseen by a committed staff of pros, led by Gleason's boss Bruce Silverglade.

"It's cheaper than therapy," said Silverglade, who told me that 12 contestants, men and women, will be put together in a work setting, and then do one fight apiece. Training will start in June. "This is an individual sport, you're alone in there, proving something to yourself, proving something to your father, your brother. There are so many reasons people come to the gym. And a majority of them stay. There can be mutual animosity, but they get in the ring, and there's mutual respect."

For Kelly Swanson, no one-and-done

December, 3, 2013
12/03/13
5:02
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It was supposed to be a one-and-done, a quick foray, an experience to be lived and treasured, and pivoted away from. But the publicist for Floyd Mayweather and Bernard Hopkins got a taste of combat and craves more. "I want to do it one more time," Kelly Swanson told me at a for-media workout at Gleason's in DUMBO on Tuesday, ahead of the Saturday Golden Boy card at Barclays in Brooklyn. "I want a step up on opponent, just a little," she told me, while main eventer Paul Malignaggi, who meets Zab Judah Saturday, had his hands wrapped and chatted with press.

Swanson raised over $11,000 fighting last month at Gleason's, for underprivileged area kids. Her foe didn't have all that much for her -- something Swanson suspected might happen, she told me, when her intel informed her that the foe didn't like to punch through the target during workouts. "It was like Bernard told me before he fought Tito Trinidad in 2001, he said that Trinidad had that hook, but he needed to get set before he threw it, and there would be no hook unless he got set," she said.

"Oh, and I won't ask for a lot of money this time," she added, in closing.

Swanson swears she wants just ... one ... more. And then she will hang 'em up. We shall see.

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Publicist Swanson wins via TKO1

November, 16, 2013
11/16/13
9:39
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Some of her colleagues were chuckling post-fight, as the publicist to Bernard Hopkins and Floyd Mayweather was interviewed by the boxing writer, and being asked how she felt getting a win in her fighting debut.

But nobody was chuckling about Kelly Swanson's in-ring demeanor on Saturday night, at a jam-packed Gleason's Gym in DUMBO; the debuter, who strode to the ring in a blue robe with the words "The Communicator" stitched on the back, with cornerman Hopkins whispering encouragement and combat tips in her ear, showed a sharp left hand which made her foe Amy Handelsman do a 180 in the first round. Swanson quickly whacked Handelsman with combos, forcing a standing eight. The action resumed, but not for long. Swanson moved in for the kill, let her hands go, and the ref was forced to step in and halt the scrap. The end came at 53 seconds elapsed in round one.

The fight was the main event of a charity card, Fighters 4 Life Showcase, to raise money for at-risk youth, who can learn about fitness, and self-discipline and work towards positive goal-setting at Gleason's.

Afterwards, Swanson was barely breathing hard as she dissected her performance and the experience. Lisa Milner, Swanson's right hand for the past few years while helping promote Mayweather and Hopkins fights, was howling as she watched me query Swanson, who's done the same to the best in the business in her 20 plus years in the game. "The butterflies as you're getting ready, getting your hands wrapped, everything, are incredible," Swanson told me. "But once the bell rings you just get into it and fight."

Hopkins pre-fight told me that he'd told Swanson to keep it simple, don't try and get fancy. She complied, but with extra zest, firing with the same firmness and directness she often exhibits doing the publicity chores.

A celeb-studded crowd packed the joint, as Rosie Perez, and fighters Peter Quillin, Danny Jacobs, Yuri Foreman, Marcus Browne and Showtime boxing boss Stephen Espinoza attended, to raise funds for the kids, and cheer on the publicist, who did indeed live up to the name "The Communicator:" Swanson communicated some serious intent with a thudding left hand, and even better, serious skills as a fundraiser: she raised $11,270 for the charity, tops among the 12 participants in the event.

Part 1: Swanson nears charity bout

November, 13, 2013
11/13/13
5:43
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Kelly Swanson's clients include two of the greatest pugilists of the modern era: Floyd Mayweather and Bernard Hopkins.

Mayweather and Hopkins are immune, by now, to the butterflies that are making themselves so abundantly apparent in Swanson's stomach on Wednesday afternoon. The publicist confessed that her adrenal glands have been kicking into overdrive as we met for a chat at a Brooklyn eatery. No, not because Mayweather has announced his next scrap, or Hopkins has agreed to face off with another young gun, twenty years his junior. Rather, Swanson confessed to being in this state because she signed on to take part in a fight and will be gloving up on Saturday night in the main event for a charity event unfolding at Gleason's Gym in DUMBO.

We met for a bite at Nature's Grill. The publicist grinned, doing a good job camouflaging any hint of nerves.

"I decided on my walkout music," she told me.

"What is it?" I asked.

"Not telling you," she said, with the same directness I've become accustomed to in the last few years as I've interacted with her more at Barclays Center, where Swanson does work for promoter Golden Boy.

"Give me a hint," I said.

"It's hip," she says.

I know better than to push it. Swanson's manner in dealing with boxing media is as it needs to be when fending off countless folks who set up a website on GoDaddy.com which draws fewer hits than the Obamacare sites, then demand press passes. She is, she admits to me, "no nonsense" when in her work guise. "When it comes to boxing, yes," she says.

I move on.

We order healthy -- me being extra mindful of steering clear of bad carbs in solidarity with her Saturday bout. I go for the sweet potato fries and hear more about the Gleason's "Give A Kid A Dream" program. Swanson will fight three rounds, 90 seconds per round, to raise money for the program which provides mentors to disadvantaged area youths through the sport of boxing. Kids -- who are referred by parents, courts, churches or schools -- receive instruction in the sport and usually find themselves growing mentally and emotionally as they focus on worthy goals. Those interested can go to her page to offer a donation.

Back in July, Swanson said, she started working out at Gleason's and she wasn't thinking of doing much beyond getting more fit and perfecting a left hook. But her trainer, Heather Hardy, a local pro, told her she could absolutely compete with the women who were getting ready for the event, which runs twice a year at the venerable fight factory. She didn't bother to ponder all that long or hard when offered the chance, she said. But as the event, which kicks off at 6 p.m., drew closer and morphed from a far-off destination to a looming hurdle, her nerves occasionally kicked up.

"I work with two of the best fighters ever," she said, indicating she wants to impress the two all-time greats. "I mean, I can't lose!"

Check back for Part 2 on Swanson's foray into the squared circle, and find out what one technique she's decided to swipe from her clients, which she said could prove debilitating to her foe on Saturday.

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Bracero-Salita tops packed Aviator card

November, 8, 2013
11/08/13
10:26
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Gabriel Bracero and Dmitriy Salita both made weight on Friday for their Saturday clash at the Aviator Complex in Brooklyn, a welterweight faceoff, which will have Brooklyn bragging rights up for grabs. Bracero, the Sunset Park, Brooklyn native who fell in with the wrong crowd, then became the wrong crowd, but righted himself after a jail stint, was 145 pounds.

The Flatbush resident Salita, who had a disappointing early night against in his debut on the megastage, against Amir Khan (TKO1 loss), in 2009, and has struggled to clamber back for another crack, was 147 pounds.

Lou DiBella will promote the card topped by the 22-1 Bracero and the 35-1-1 Salita. I expect to see a high volume scrap in this ten rounder, a distance fight, which I see as up for grabs. Salita has had good work in camp, heading to Detroit to get some Kronk nurturing from "Sugar" Hill, Emanuel Steward's nephew. Bracero has stuck local, with trainer Tommy Gallagher. But the way he's been talking has me wondering if his eye of the tiger isn't a shade fiercer.

"Woods, I'm not the fighter I was a year, or even six months ago," he's said. "I WANT this."

He said he gets it that the promoters and the networks reward heavy-duty aggression, and he knows a mere win isn't enough. He is seeking to put a stamp on it, a violent one, one that will leave a buzz bubbling among watchers and on Twitter days after. That is the way, he realizes, that he can scramble up some notches in the rankings, and get the sort of opportunity Salita had against Khan.

I expect the Aviator to enjoy one of the biggest and most electric crowds for boxing it has seen. Heather Hardy, formerly of Gerritsen Beach, now living in Williamsburg, puts her 6-0 record on the line against 4-3 Mexican Laura Gomez. Also, Charlie Ota, who makes Japan his home-base, puts his 23-1-1 mark up against 17-7 Mike Ruiz of Freeport, N.Y. Another local, a kid who puts butts in seats, Joe Smith (12-1), gloves up against Lamont Williams. of Cali. Phenom Junior Younan has his pro debut, against Ken Schmitz of St. Louis, as well.

I think so much of the card I'm DVRing HBO's triple-header tomorrow, for the record.

Fight tips from The Amazing Kreskin (Pt. 2)

November, 7, 2013
11/07/13
12:41
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Heather HardySpencer Platt/Getty ImagesHeather Hardy has fought her way through some tough times outside the ring.
I am curious to see how two boxers, especially, react to the methods of mentalist The Amazing Kreskin, who was enlisted to interact with three of the fighters on the Lou DiBella promotion set to unfold Saturday night at the Aviator Complex in South Brooklyn.

I've known welterweight Gabriel Bracero for a few years. I can't picture Kreskin -- who in his intro session with the fighters Tuesday at the Friar's Club said he sought to bring out the best in people, summoning reserves of resilience or skills that have been present but perhaps dormant -- conjuring something out of Bracero that he hasn't been able to do himself.

Bracero went to prison for almost six years for attempted murder, and decided in the joint that he'd make something of himself, turn his back on his thuggish ways, and be a contributing member to society, not a menace. He's done that since getting out in 2009, becoming a decent family man who's not afraid to state his faith in a higher power ... so we shall see what Kreskin can bring to the table to help the Sunset Park native.

Super bantamweight Heather Hardy, whose star is on the rise as a ticket-seller and ring talent, could, perhaps, be a more malleable subject for Kreskin. She told me about some of the recent chapters in her life, and left me feeling admiration for her work ethic and doggedness in the face of repeated disappointments.

Hardy was living on Gerritsen Beach, the Brooklyn on-the-water community which got walloped by Sandy a year ago. Her 9-year-old daughter Annie listened and watched as the 6-0 Hardy recounted her storm story to me.

Heather and Annie walked over to Heather's mom's house, down the street from them, after her mom asked them to huddle together to wait out the storm. "At about 6 p.m., water started to come in her house," Hardy said. "Within 15 minutes, it was up to our knees. We couldn't open up the door to outside." I asked Annie what she was feeling at that time. "Kind of panicked," she admitted. Hardy had been hit with a gut punch just a month before, when a fire broke out at her apartment, the result of some electrical work being done on the residence. "So we were already basically homeless," she told me. "We lost our clothes, our furniture. We were staying at my mom's, and bouncing around."

The storm kept hammering away, and wiped out Gerritsen Beach pretty good. The Hardy crew got out, though, and tried to adapt. Annie went to live with relatives on Long Island, and Gleason's Gym owner Bruce Silverglade let Heather live at the gym for a spell. The community bonded and people stepped up to lend a helping hand. Hardy is lately feeling a degree of stability; she and Annie moved to Williamsburg, near Gleason's, in September, and that has been helpful for her sleeping habits, for sure. "I don't have to get up at 4:30 a.m. anymore," she said. Hardy trains people at Gleason's -- including Floyd Mayweathers' publicist, Kelly Swanson, who is fighting in a charity event next month; more on that to come -- and isn't unhappy to no longer be working six jobs, as she was in 2011.

She isn't yet at a place where she can box full-time to make her living, though, so she still has to grind. On Friday, the day of her weigh-in, she will be taking requests for tickets to her fight, and will try to cheerfully accommodate requests and sell the last few of the 150 she was allocated by the promoter. With headway yet to be made to get to the point where she can focus fully on fighting, Hardy has an open mind about Kreskin's methods.

In Part 3, we will learn what Kreskin does during the sessions with the fighters.

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."

Junior Younan still loves boxing

September, 11, 2013
9/11/13
12:02
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Tongues wagged when the story came out in the NY Times, on Feb. 5, 2006.

Accusatory fingers were pointed, the whispering campaign was intense and harsh condemnations were issued. Fair to say, there was no shortage of people ready to say "I told ya so" after reading about Junior Younan, who was 10 years old at the time. The Brooklyn boy was pushed in training by his father/trainer Sherif Younan Sr. Myriad critics predicted imminent burnout.

They read that dad had Junior would run miles on the treadmill. They read that the boy sometimes cried because the workout became too much. Dad said that he knew his son. Boxing was in his blood.

We would have to wait to see how this would play out down the line. Would the pressure to excel repel Younan Jr. from the sweet science?

Fast forward to today.

Far from being repelled from boxing, Junior's ardor for the game hasn't dimmed. If anything he seems to adore all elements of the sport even more. He told New York Times writer Geoffrey Gray, "I'm like Roy Jones Jr. and Floyd Mayweather Jr. combined"

"I feel in love with boxing," the now 17-year-old Junior told me, right after signing a contract to turn pro with NYC promoter Lou DiBella.

Junior's self-respect for his ring skills hasn't lessened, either. The teen, who lives with his dad in Bensonhurst, was asked to assess his skill set. How good are you, I wondered? "I'm not good, I'm great," said the teen, who turns 18 on Oct. 14.

His titles don't contradict him. With a 90-5 record, Younan won the National Junior Olympic championship in 2011, he is a nine-time Junior Olympic champion, a nine-time Junior Metro champion, an eight-time NY State Silver Gloves champion, a five-time Regional Silver Gloves champion, a four-time National Silver Gloves champion, a three-time Ringside World champion, a three-time National PAL champion and a two-time National Junior Golden Gloves champion.

His father recalls that his only child was in Gleason's when dad was readying to spar. The 15-month-old toddler pushed away a milk bottle, and crawled for some ratty headgear. He put it on his head, lopsided, and peered out through the ear hole. He had chosen his course. "I grew up in Gleason's," said Junior, whose nickname is "Sugar Boy," because of a past fondness for candy. "My second birthday was in the gym. I had a big cake with gloves on it."

Well wishers and opportunists have approached the kid, looking to join a posse, soak in the optimism and possible fortune on the horizon. But Junior says he's not falling for that, and doesn't see signing on with DiBella, and advisors James Prince and Josh Dubin, as a goal completed. It's more like a starting point. "It's not time to celebrate. The job is not even close to being done," he said. "I'm content for now, I will be happy when I'm world champion."

Neither Younan fired up an "I told ya so" to me in response to the 2006 bad buzz, which has dissipated. But one takeaway for me is clear. Dad was a stern tutor, and his methods seemed mad to many. But today, the path he cleared for Junior was the one both of them envisioned, not the one the critics railed would unfold.

I just wanted to make sure I did my due dilligence. I wanted to make very sure Junior has confounded the naysayers, isn't putting on a front, and is, in fact, in love with boxing.

Most of us are familiar with the age old deal where dad sees son as a future champ, in boxing, or tennis, or Nascar, and grinds down an original zest for competition, until the child is burnt out on the discipline, and walks away, nose turned up, headed for the shrink's couch and a lifetime's worth of wrestling with lingering resentment. I asked Junior, who has been boxing for 14 years, has he ever veered into burnout mode, considered quitting?

"You ever get burnt out on writing?" he countered, as sharply and effectively as anything Floyd Mayweather has ever thrown.

Quillin & Co. on the ascent

May, 1, 2013
5/01/13
12:09
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Confession: My thoughts on Peter "Kid Chocolate" Quillin's chances in his title defense against Fernando Guerrero were impacted by his difficulty making 160 pounds on the day before the fight. Quillin was 1 1/2 pounds over and I really wondered if he was even going to bother trying to carve off that weight in a scant hour, which was granted to him by the NY State Athletic Commission. He waved to photogs, posed, did an interview with Steve Farhood for Showtime and I truly thought he was willing to give up his WBO title on the scale. But the 29-year-old surprised me, to the upside, when he came back in a hour, and made 160. But, I wondered, would this process take something out of him, leave an opening for the Marylander Fernando Guerrero? That question was answered at Barclays, when Quillin showed himself to be an immensely strong middleweight as he whacked the challenger around until the fight was stopped in Round 7.

After the weigh in, Quillin told me he was still getting used to a new eating regimen, put together by new strength and conditioning coach Rob Garcia, who used to work with Oscar De La Hoya. I chatted with Garcia at Gleason's a few days before the faceoff and noticed that he had the press cred for the Pacquiao-De La Hoya fight on his gym bag. Why? Because, he said, he keeps it around to remind himself to keep control, as best he can, of what he can. "That was a nightmarish night as a coach," Garcia told me. That's because De La Hoya worked with trainer Nacho Beristain for the first time, and was over-worked by the trainer, Garcia told me.

Garcia said he was actually picked to work with Manny Pacquiao before his last fight with Juan Manuel Marquez, but on again-off again strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza hopped back on board Team Pacquiao instead. Garcia bonded with Quillin, who like Pacquiao trains at Freddie Roach's Wild Card in California. He stuck with Quillin and blew off an opportunity, he said, to work with son of the legend Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., because his dad Ed Garcia sensed that Junior wasn't ready to focus fully on training.

Garcia and I chatted about the use of illegal PEDs in boxing, among other subjects. He said his guys are clean. "If you use illegals, you might rely too much on your strength in fights, instead of your intelligence," he said. Garcia said he has Quillin off all supplements and just eating organic foods.

This is the second fight Garcia has been with Quillin and the boxer has exhibited a noticeable bump in power; he dropped Hassan N'Dam N'Jikam to win the belt last October, and Guerrero twice in the second and seventh. Garcia told me that he only wants to work with coachable people and that he sees similarities in De La Hoya and Quillin. "They both work really hard and came from nothing," he said.

With many sensing Sergio Martinez nearing the end of the line, people are adjusting their view of the middleweight division; Quillin is on the rise and that leaves me that much more curious what is the next challenge for him.

Elder Garcia still fuming at Judah

April, 24, 2013
4/24/13
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Security was tight at Gleason's Gym in Brooklyn on Wednesday, the day after Team Garcia and Team Judah skirmished at Modell's across from Barclays Center during a meet'n greet for fans ahead of the Saturday Golden Boy/Showtime card, topped by Danny Garcia's title defense against Zab Judah.

Judah on Tuesday night crashed the party at Modell's and riled up Angel Garcia, the trainer-father of junior welter titleholder Danny; this was a virtual repeat of their clash during a December presser to hype the fight, which was originally set for Feb. 27 but was postponed after Garcia injured a rib in training. This scrum actually lasted a bit longer, spilling out into the parking lot. Garcia the elder told NYFightblog that Judah spit at the car he and Danny were in, and slammed his fist on the hood after the two teams butted heads inside. "He's lucky I wasn't driving," the dad told me. "I would have run the car in reverse." But he held his temper, he said, and didn't hop out of the car because he realized where it would have ended up. "If we had gotten out we would've ended up in jail or prison," he said. "You don't spit on a vehicle. Little girls do that."

To make sure the Gleason's media gathering was without incident, security made sure to double-check that only invited media and people who had business at the gym were in the building when the Garcias were there. I was carded twice entering. We can be sure that the press conference on Thursday will be overloaded with security.

The dad, to NYFightblog, said the conflict would only make his son more focused. "Judah has never faced people like us," he said, with confidence and menace.

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Trainer says Hopkins didn't jump shark

March, 6, 2013
3/06/13
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I asked Bernard Hopkins a pretty pointed question at Gleason's, during his open workout for media. If and when you do jump the shark, will you turn "old" overnight, in the ring ... or would deterioration be a more gradual thing?

"I don't answer that," said the 48-year-old, who tries to take the IBF 175-pound title from Tavoris Cloud on Saturday night at Barclays Center.

Hopkins' trainer, Naazim Richardson, picked up the topic, saying, "You don't need to get in the ring (to see if a guy has lost it to age). You'd know in the gym."

So, what has Richardson seen in this camp? "I've seen everything I've needed to see," he answered. The implication was clear: Richardson, who says he loves Hopkins and will tell him if he sees dropoff, feels his guy hasn't slipped.

Wednesday, at the Barclays Center presser to hype the Golden Boy card, I asked Cloud's trainer, Abel Sanchez, if he'd seen Hopkins deteriorate over his last few fights. No, he said, he hadn't -- because he really doesn't bother watching tape of his fighter's foe. Sanchez said he wants his fighter to play to his strengths and dictate what happens in the ring, so what the other guy typically does is basically immaterial.

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Welcome to Hopkins-Cloud fight week

March, 5, 2013
3/05/13
11:20
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One day, the theory goes, he will turn old, in the ring, in front of our eyes. That may be, but I will not be the one to predict that Bernard Hopkins will look anything like a typical 48-year-old when he fights Tavoris Cloud in the main event of the Golden Boy show running Saturday (March 9) at Barclays Center.

Predicting that Hopkins (52-6-2) will lose, that he will finally revert to form typical of a non-marvel, didn't serve me well when I figured that young Kelly Pavlik's punching power would spell doom for B-Hop back in October 2008, in Atlantic City. Hopkins showed Pavlik tricks of the trade the Ohioan couldn't decipher, and won a unanimous decision, and a promise from me that I'd never again bet against him.

The oddsmakers like the 24-0 Cloud, age 31, to get the better of Hopkins in Brooklyn, but I recall how much trouble the Don King-promoted boxer had with Gabriel Campillo, a smart pugilist, when they clashed Feb. 18, 2012. I had Campillo winning that bout, but alas, the judges didn't. I see Hopkins, even a 48-year-old Hopkins, with one or two more gray hairs than he had in his last fight, a majority decision loss to Chad Dawson last April, as being a grade above Campillo as an ace pugilist, and wouldn't dare pick Cloud to beat him.

NYFightblog will check in with Hopkins and Cloud today (Tuesday) while they work out in Brooklyn, at Gleason's. Then, we'll cover the final presser on Wednesday for the Saturday show, which will unfold on HBO (9:30 p.m. start). Keith Thurman meets Jan Zaveck to open the show on the tube.

Fight fans can get a closer look at all the principals at the weigh-in Friday, which is open to the public. That will take place at Barclays Center (Atlantic and Flatbush), with doors opening at 12:30 p.m.

Tickets for the show, which starts at 5 p.m. ET, are priced at $200, $100, $85, $50 and $25, plus applicable taxes and service charges, and are available for purchase at www.barclayscenter.com, , the American Express Box Office at Barclays Center, all Ticketmaster locations or by calling 800-745-3000.

The NYFightBlog 2012 Boxer of the Year

December, 31, 2012
12/31/12
4:25
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Boxing in New York picked up the pace in 2012. The new series at the Barclays Center took off, and the debut in October was a success. Having a focal point is an immense boost to the local scene, as young fighters can know that they have a stage ready for them when they're ready to rock. Madison Square Garden has taken notice and is getting more active booking fights cards, with a slate booked into the Theater Jan. 19. All these men can benefit from the amped-up buzz in NYC.

Ladies and gents, here is your 2012 NYC Top Ten Pound-For-Pound List.

1) PETER QUILLIN He has an XL personality and his boxing has been improving, fight by fight. No reason why Quillin shouldn't be a full-on star in 2013. The 29-year-old Manhattan resident retired Winky Wright in June, and then whacked Hassan N'Dam around, exiting the Barclays Center with the WBO middleweight belt, on Oct. 20. He is the NYFightBlog BOXER OF THE YEAR. (No. 3 last year)

2) PAULIE MALIGNAGGI Paulie escaped the Barclays Center with a W over young Mexican rumbler Pablo Cano on Oct. 20, and was looking forward to a career-best payday rematch against Ricky Hatton. Hatton's body didn't cooperate, and he was stopped in his return bout. So the 32-year-old Bensonhurst tactician is still hunting Plan B. We wonder -- and suspect he wonders -- if he has lost a quarter-step, or if he can return in his next bout in fine form, with peppy legs, a busy jab, the whole package. We're betting yes ... but just in case, he's been setting up business prospects and is doing a bangup job as an analyst for Showtime, so if he has lost a foot off his fastball, 2013 will find Malignaggi with options regardless. (No. 2 last year)

3) DANNY JACOBS Last year, he thought he would die. This year, Jacobs has been climbing his way up the middleweight ladder, and doing it with as much grace and charm as any pugilist out there. The Park Slope resident, age 25, looks to rise to 25-1 when he gloves up Feb. 9 at Barclays. He kicked cancer's ass, I suspect he will do the same a few times in the ring this year, and by the end of the year, he should be ready to tackle a titlist. I root for him -- sorry, just being honest. (No. 8 last year)

4) ARGENIS MENDEZ The Dominican-born Brooklyn resident won an IBF super featherweight title eliminator over Martin Honorio in July, so we can presume an opportunity will pop for the 20-2 hitter soon. He came up short against Juan Carlos Salgado for the vacant IBF super feather belt in 2011, but we're betting he gets over the title hump in 2013. At 26, he should be in his physical prime. (N0. 5 last year)

5) ZAB JUDAH The Brownsville native is 35, and we're tempted to say he's looking at his last chance when he meets junior welterweight champion Danny Garcia at Barclays in the headliner Feb. 9. But Judah is a name, and a character, and even if he can't get the better of the under-appreciated Philly hitter, Judah will continue to receive opportunities. He's been talking tough ahead of the Garcia bout, and dad is back in his corner, but we still recall the stinkbomb effort he turned in against Amir Khan in July 2011. Will Good Zab or Bad Zab show up at Barclays? (No. 7 last year)

6) JOSEPH AGBEKO Last year's No. 1 went 0-for-2012, as the Bronx based Ghanian didn't glove up once this year. He could have fallen off the list but he gets consideration for what he's done. The 28-2 32-year-old is slated to meet 34-8-1 Luis Melendez on Feb. 22, so he could rise again next year if he regains his step. (No. 1 last year)

6) JOAN GUZMAN The Dominican formerly known as Little Tyson tasted defeat for the first time, losing a technical decision to 17-0 Khabib Allakhverdiev on Nov. 30. At 36, it looks like Guzman (33-1-1) has lost a mile off his fastball. Can he transition to being a clever junkballer, or will he be off this list next year? (Guzman No. 4 last year)

7) PATRICK HYLAND The Irish transplant lost his 0, when Javier Fortuna beat him, with the interim WBA feather crown up for grabs, on Dec. 8, underneath Pacquiao-Marquez, but showed he belonged at that class. We suspect he will learn from the loss and might well come back stronger, secure in the knowledge that that sized stage is appropriate for him. And whatever happens, he can take this to his grave: he is the top boxer in the stable of MTV's Snooki. (Not rated last year)

8) LUIS COLLAZO The 32-5 Queens-based boxer looked sharper than I expected in a win against Steve Upsher Chambers on the first Barclays card. An ex welterweight champion, he's 31, has his head on straight, is freed from promotional entanglements (cough Don King cough) and is backed by Golden Boy, which has the pull to get him opportunities. It is up to him to keep winning, and 2013 could be the year he gets to wrap another belt around his waist. (No. 16 last year)

9) EDDIE GOMEZ The 20-year-old from the Bronx fought and won five times this year. He has confidence galore and perhaps the skills to match it. If he stays healthy, and doesn't let rising fame mess with his head, 2013 could be a breakthrough year for Gomez (12-0). We can see him headlining a ShoBox by the end of the year. (Not rated last year)

10) DMITRIY SALITA/HECTOR CAMACHO JR (TIE) These two will clash underneath Garcia-Judah at Barclays on Feb. 9. The winner gets this spot, the loser drops off. The 35-1 Salita, age 30, is slightly favored for the 152 or under contest, as the 34 year-old Camacho was knocked out cold in his last outing, by 12-1-1 Luis Grajeda in July. (Salita No. 20, Camacho No. 15 last year)

Honorable Mention: Sechew Powell (No. 10 last year), Joe Hanks (last year not rated), Seanie Monaghan (last year not rated), Will Rosinsky (last year not rated), Chris Algieri (last year not rated), Gabriel Bracero (last year No. 13)

Amir Khan next for Malignaggi? Or ...

November, 28, 2012
11/28/12
10:47
AM ET
Paul Malignaggi left the Oct. 20 Barclays show with a win tucked under his belt, and also some psychic lumps that needed attending to. He thought it was quite obvious to the judges and the world that he beat Pablo Cano. But he was graced with a split decision, and one judge, Glenn Feldman, gave Paulie a year-old fruitcake of a gift: he saw Cano a 118-109 victor.

The Bensonhurst-bred boxer was banking on -- and banking is the right term -- Ricky Hatton winning his Saturday comeback bout against Vyacheslav Senchenko, but The Hitman couldn't scrape off 42 months of rust. He was counted out from a body shot in Round 9 and thus a Hatton rematch was up in smoke.

So Malignaggi will have to figure out a plan B. I asked his promoter, Richard Schaefer, what might be next for the Twitter King. Schaefer was at Gleason's Gym in Brooklyn for the Miguel Cotto open workout.

"We're looking at maybe an April return for Malignaggi," Schaefer said. He said he will sit down with his matchmaking crew and plot out possibilities, probably putting together a firm plan after Christmas.

Hatton, right after his bout, said he would ponder what comes next but then an hour later said he was leaving the ring for good. Schaefer thinks he will stick with that.

Some ideas for Malignaggi's next include a rematch with Amir Khan, Schaefer said. Khan beat Paulie (TKO11) in NY in May 2010, at 140 pounds. These days, Malignaggi is a weight class higher, at 147. Khan meets Carlos Molina Dec. 15, at 140, so we shall see how that plays out. A unification crack at the Devon Alexander-Kell Brook scrap, which unfolds Jan. 19, might be an option, the promoter continued.

Schaefer thought Andre Berto fought valiantly in a loss to Robert Guerrero Saturday, and threw him into the pot as a possible Malignaggi foe.

What about Dmitriy Salita, a Brooklyner who has been angling to meet Paulie? "He needs to get a credible win" before being considered, Schaefer said. Yes, that fight makes sense within NYC, but everyone has to remember that fights are now on an international stage. "Fighters have to realize that have to earn title opportunities," Schaefer stated.

Cake sends Cotto's trainer scurrying

November, 27, 2012
11/27/12
8:22
PM ET
Never seen anything quite like this: At Miguel Cotto's open workout at Gleason's today, after Cotto engaged in some pad work with trainer Pedro Diaz, he went, sat in a corner, and Diaz draped a white towel over him.

For three minutes, Cotto sat under the towel, silent, as the gym activity hummed all around. I asked Diaz about this activity, and he indicated that Cotto does that throughout his workouts, and that it brings his pulse and heart rate down.

Basically, he takes meditation breaks during workouts. Hey, whatever works.

Things have been working out pretty good of late for Cotto, who seems to have found a cornerman he bonds totally with, and gets the best out of him. After he and his uncle Evangelista parted ways, with great acrimony, Cotto employed strength and conditioning coach Joe Santiago to oversee him. Then, the late Emanuel Steward worked with Cotto for two fights, wins over Yuri Foreman and Ricardo Mayorga.

Cotto then tapped Diaz, who came to the U.S. from Cuba in 1998, and they are 1-1 together, with a December 2011 rematch win over Antonio Margarito being followed by the UD loss to Floyd Mayweather in May.

I was just about to do a video interview with Diaz, when the trainer hoofed it out of Gleason's. What spooked him? A birthday cake; Cotto's mom was heading his way, and wanted the trainer to blow out the candles on his birthday.

How old is he? I couldn't say, I couldn't ask; Diaz jetted to a waiting SUV, and my queries about what Saturday foe Austin Trout brings to the table, and how many candles Diaz was going to blow out, went unanswered.

Sorry, FightBlog fans!

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