Boxing: Showtime

Rumbler Bika to meet boxer-fighter Dirrell

December, 3, 2013
Australian citizen Sakio Bika fights in Brooklyn for the second time, on Saturday night, when he puts his WBC super middleweight title up for grabs against Anthony Dirrell of Michigan on a Golden Boy card, which is topped by a "Battle of Brooklyn" scrap pitting Paul Malignaggi against Zab Judah.

Showtime will televise.

Bika, who sports a 32-5-2 mark, is a rumbling sort who doesn't look like the picture of grace or fluidity as he does his thing, which is fighting in a manner featuring less finesse than most others on the card.

I chatted with the 34-year-old Bika on Tuesday during a for-media fighter workout, and he told me he's keen on moving to the States. Bika, who has a wife and three kids, said that the U.S. is where it's at if you're in the boxing business, so he and his crew are of the same mind. Bika trains in St. Louis, with trainer Kevin Cunningham, who has another boxer, Devon Alexander, on the Barclays card. "I will move next year," he said. "It's best for business."

As for the business at hand, I asked him what he knows about his 29-year-old foe Dirrell. "I know nothing about him," he said. "I just know his record."

Cunningham, though, does; he's watched copious tape of the "other" Dirrell, the slightly less well-known of the fighting Dirrell brothers. Andre (21-1), age 30, won bronze for the US at the 2004 Olympic Games, turned pro in 2005, and had a smooth climb. He was impacted neurologically in his fight with Arthur Abraham in 2010, however, and has fought just twice since.

If the fight is a rumble, and Bika is muscling Dirrell, not letting him be the slicker boxer, then Cunningham thinks they should be fine.

"Dirrell is a boxer-fighter type," he said. "I've known him since he was 12. He's good people. But he's going against my fighter. And this has the makings of being fight of the night. Anthony's said that he wants it so there's no need for the judges. I want a guy who will come and stand and fight, I love hearing that."

Dirrell is coming off a TKO3 win over Anthony Hanshaw on July 27, his second fight in 2013 after taking 2012 off. Bika won the vacant 168 pound crown on June 22, in his last scrap, against Mexican Marco Antonio Periban at Barclays. Dirrell has the power edge, but Bika is usually immune to swats that buzz other dudes, so it's possible he's able to out-physical Dirrell over the long haul.

Readers, who do you see this one playing out?

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Old pros Malignaggi, Judah look to Dec. 7

November, 26, 2013
Paulie Malignaggi and Zab JudahGetty ImagesPaulie Malignaggi and Zab Judah will go at it in 'The Battle of Brooklyn' on Dec. 7.
Both men can be combustible, and often are.

Paul Malignaggi showed his zest for trash talk not long ago at the presser to announce his Dec. 7 clash, "The Battle of Brooklyn," against Zab Judah, when he laced into the media for being know-nothings more interested in parading their ignorance and delving into National Enquirer-level material than being respectable journalists.

And Zab Judah showed a wide range of his personality the week of his April 27 clash against Danny Garcia, when he was up in arms at the prefight presser for that Barclays Center bout, because, he said, he'd been cooped up in a room, for hours, without water, because event planners didn't want him and Garcia to fight before the fight.

Those two gents, though, were nowhere to be found on a Tuesday conference call to hype their showdown on a Golden Boy card, which will determine if rooters from Judah's Brownsville or Malignaggi's Bensonhurst will be more merry that evening. The 36-year-old Judah and the just-turned-33 Malignaggi were the height of professionalism, and had basically nothing but kind words for each other.

Both made sure to mention while they had mutual respect, this wouldn't be a sparring match, a pugilistic "friendly," and all involved made it clear the two vets are both still in the mix with the elite.

"This is nowhere near my last fight," said Judah, who noted that Floyd Mayweather, Juan Manuel Marquez and Bernard Hopkins are all still competing on a high level, though they are up in years. "I am the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world," declared Judah, 1-2 in his past three bouts.

"This fight has the potential to be the greatest fight the Barclays Center has seen," said Malignaggi, a skilled seller who was labeled the best color commentator working today by promoter Richard Schaefer. He surprised to the upside, in the eyes of many, in a loss in his last outing to Adrien Broner.

These are two slick, smart pugilists, and the fight will likely not be a slobberknocker special, one to appeal to the masses who aren't as keen on the sweetly scientific elements of the sport. But even if the scrap isn't a Fight of the Year candidate, the card is pretty packed, and tickets start at $25, so it should be a good night of fights.

With a win, Golovkin will head overseas

November, 1, 2013
If the majority of predictors are correct, and WBA middleweight titlist Gennady Golovkin (27-0 with 24 KOs) gets the better of Curtis Stevens (25-3 with 18 KOs) Saturday night at The Theater at Madison Square Garden, especially in conclusive and violent fashion, the demand to know when fight fans can see him in action next will be immediate.

So, to get a head start, I asked K2 director Tom Loeffler the near future plans for his guy Golovkin, the 31-year-old Kazhkstan native, should he down the Brooklyner Stevens. "We're focused on this fight, but we do want to stay active," he told me. "We're projected, if he wins, to fight next in February." That bout wouldn't take place in the NY area, or even in the US, he said, but would unfold overseas. Loeffler wants to keep on currying his fanbase outside the States, he said.

We could surmise that after that February bout, some sort of consolidation bout might be sought. Sergio Martinez holds the WBC 160 belt, but his crew seems intent on making a faceoff with Miguel Cotto. Darren Barker, a Brit, owns the IBF strap. We don't see an impediment to making a Golovkin-Barker bout from a political standpoint, as the HBO-affiliated Golovkin will be looking outside the Golden Boy-associated sphere of combatants for dance partners, and Barker isn't signed to Golden Boy.

But Barker first has to retain his belt, up for grabs against ex champ Felix Sturm on Dec. 7, so that situation is too fluid to get a handle on. A move to 168 pounds, and a tangle with the holder of the IBF and WBA super middle crowns, Carl Froch of England, has been rumored for Golovkin. Froch first needs to put down George Groves' challenge on Nov. 23, which seems a good bet from my vantage point. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. is the money honey in this region, whether he fights at 160 or higher. I'm pretty sure Golovkin wouldn't turn down a fight with that Top Rank boxer, who gets featured on HBO.

Readers, let's not get ahead of ourselves ... Oh hell, let's. If Golovkin beats Stevens, what would you like to see him do in the first quarter or half of 2014? Weigh in!

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Showtime, HBO both have boxing Dec. 7

October, 8, 2013
Fight fans, fire up the DVRs, because we have a dueling dates situation emerging, on Dec. 7.

Showtime will present fights taking place at Barclays Center in Brooklyn that evening, and HBO will also put on a show, topped by a Guillermo Rigondeaux title defense against Ghana-born Bronx resident Joseph Agbeko. Top Rank will lead the Atlantic City promotion, which will unfold most likely at Boardwalk Hall's intimate theater.

The Barclays card is still in a state of flux, though it is getting close to being fully firmed up. Showtime boxing boss Stephen Espinoza told me that it is looking like an NYC duel between Bensonhurt's Paul Malignaggi and Brownsville's Zab Judah in a welterweight clash will be the main event, while a title defense by WBA interim welterweight champion Keith Thurman against journeyman-turned-contender Jesus Soto Karass will be chief support.

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Catanzaro has 'great problem' on Dec. 7

October, 8, 2013
On the night of December 7, Brooklyn's Anthony Catanzaro will be the slightest bit frazzled, but in a good way.

A boxer he advises, welterweight Paul Malignaggi, will be fighting at Barclays Center against Zab Judah, on Showtime.

At around the same time, another fighter he advises, middleweight Matthew Macklin, will be fighting in Atlantic City, on HBO, against Willie Nelson. Top Rank will be the lead promoter of that card, to be topped by Cuban artiste Guillermo Rigondeaux defending his bantamweight titles against Joseph Agbeko of the Bronx.

"My stomach will be in shambles," Catanzaro told me, "but it's a great problem." Another Catanzaro boxer, Sadam Ali, might be fighting on TV as well, on Showtime Extreme, on the Brooklyn card, which will be put together by Golden Boy. "Maybe three of my fighters on primetime? At the end of a day, it's great problem to have," he said.

Catanzaro said it's still up in the air whether Malignaggi-Judah will be the feature bout at Barclays.

My take: that absolutely is a compelling and appropriate feature for Brooklyn. It has been rumored that the super skilled Devon Alexander might snag the main event. But I must show my bias here, being a Brooklyn guy, no diss on Devon, I'd be more amped to see the New Yorkers get the brightest spotlight in Brooklyn, for what it's worth.

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How about Mayweather-Quillin?

September, 18, 2013
I’ve been mocked in the not too distant past for suggesting that Floyd Mayweather is such a ring talent that it would be wise to widen the scope of the search for future foes beyond the 147-to-154-pound region. I got whacked around like a piņata at a kids party for suggesting super-middleweight Andre Ward may be the only person anywhere near Floyd’s weight class to test him. I was dismissed for being a Floyd hater, with the critics deeming me a lunatic for suggesting that Mayweather, really best suited to fight at welterweight, tangle with Ward, even if Ward offered to make a catchweight of say, 162 pounds. And what if Ward's contract called for him to gain no more than two pounds post weigh-in, he could come in to the ring weighing about what Canelo weighed on Saturday? I still think I'm not a lunatic.

We should not, I don’t think, dismiss potential matchups like Mayweather-Ward or Mayweather-Bernard Hopkins, because I still don’t see anyone at or near the 147-154 pound class giving “Money” problems. But, what about 160 pounds? How about Peter “Kid Choclate” Quillin? Maybe Floyd could be persuaded to edge up to 160 pounds and challenge Quillin for his WBO strap? They could do the bout in Brooklyn, and the fantasy matchup gets one step closer to reality with the knowledge that Quillin is a Golden Boy fighter, and fights on Showtime, which is the company Mayweather signed has his mega-deal with.

I reached out to Quillin’s co-manager, Jon Seip, and broached the subject with him. Could he see a Mayweather-Quillin faceoff?

“I can’t see Floyd going to 160,” he told me. “Not when Sergio Martinez and Gennady Golovkin can go to 154.”

OK, but if an overture were made, would Quillin do it?

“We will listen to any fight,” he said.

And would Quillin shrink down to, maybe, 156, to even the playing field?

“No,” Seip said.

Regarding Martinez and Golovkin, both those gents work under the HBO umbrella and I don’t see that relationship switching. Just to be sure, I reached out to Team Martinez’s Nathan Lewkowicz; his dad Sampson Lewkowicz advises Martinez, who is promoted by Lou DiBella. “Sergio has a contract with HBO and he’s loyal to HBO and HBO has done right by him,” Nathan told me.

Sort of sounds like as of now you can shelve the Mayweather-Martinez meetup, eh?

Readers, you dig a Mayweather-Quillin scrap, if "Money" signed off on it, and liked the idea of questing for a middleweight crown?

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Golovkin would fight Mayweather

September, 15, 2013
The list of viable challengers for Floyd Mayweather has narrowed, after Mayweather so handily dismantled Canelo Alvarez on Saturday, at times toying with the 23-year-old Mexican en route to winning a majority decision at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Alvarez was younger (by 13 years) and stronger, a natural junior middleweight. But those elements proved immaterial, as Mayweather's hand speed, reflexes, ring smarts and all-around skill set had Alvarez unable to adapt to things he's never seen, and never will again.

The fight was scored a majority decision because an arbiter named CJ Ross scored the scrap 114-114, a draw -- a scorecard which drew immense scorn on social media, including a hashtag of #BanCJRoss on Twitter.

Mayweather certainly looked fit and fast at age 36, with no evidence of slippage. Fight fans looked left, right and center ring, actually, for who could conceivably test Mayweather next. One candidate is Danny Garcia, the 140-pound ace from Philadelphia who came in Saturday as the underdog, as usual, but exited the ring right before Mayweather entered it with a new pile of admirers after the way he boxed Argentine bomber Lucas Matthysse. Garcia was smart, using movement, combo punching and a Teflon chin to get the W.

On Twitter, there was also talk of middleweight ace Gennady Golovkin, the Kazakh mauler who fights on Nov. 2 in New York against Curtis Stevens in a 160-pound tangle. Golovkin has expressed willingness to fight anywhere from 154 to 175 pounds; would he be keen to test himself against Mayweather, who is chipping away at doubters who scoff when he deems himself an all-time great?

"Gennady would fight Floyd at 154 pounds," Golovkin's promoter, K2's Tom Loeffler, told on Sunday morning. "Whether it's doable is another story."

Mayweather does business with Showtime and Golden Boy, and Golovkin is an HBO fighter -- HBO doesn't buy fights from Golden Boy now, so to get all those entities on the same page would be a task. "Gennady's trainer Abel Sanchez says that Gennady is the only guy who can beat Floyd at 154," said Loeffler. "I don't want to give the wrong impression, I think Floyd has proven over and over that he is the best pound for pound fighter in the world today. But Floyd would clearly be the most compelling fight for Gennady out there. Golovkin is, though, completely focused on Curtis Stevens."

Mora and Rosado in the mix to meet Quillin

September, 3, 2013
Peter Quillin has become a must-see fighter to me, after seeing him knockdown Hassan N'Dam N'Jikam five times in taking the WBO middleweight title on Oct. 20, 2012 at Barclays Center. The Manhattan-based boxer with a 29-0 mark (21 KOs) last gloved up April 27, scoring a TKO7 win over Fernando Guerrero at Barclays.

The 30-year-old hitter had Guerrero down four times in that bout, and the Twittersphere has made some noise about wanting to see "Kid Chocolate" in a title unification scrap against Gennady Golovkin, the WBA 160-pound champ. Golovkin (27-0 with 24 KOs) is busy, with a fight coming Nov. 2 against Curtis Stevens, so a Quillin-Golovkin bout isn't on the near horizon ... or maybe even the far-off horizon. With Golovkin's status as an HBO standout, and Quillin being a Golden Boy client, the gulf between HBO and Golden Boy could mean we don't get to see the fan-friendly tussle.

Quillin's co-manager, ex-Wall Streeter John Seip, told me he thinks that would be a shame. "Quillin versus Golovkin could be the fight to bring those entities back together," Seip told me.

For now, Seip said Quillin is penciled in for a fight on the Oct. 26 Bernard Hopkins Golden Boy/Showtime card in Atlantic City. The foe hasn't been chosen, but names in the mix, he said, include ex-champion Sergio Mora, and Gabriel Rosado.

"I hate having a dormant fighter, and there are no big fights available for the remainder of the year," said Seip, who manages Quillin along with Jimmy McDevitt.

A fight with Sergio Martinez, who holds the WBC middleweight crown, is appealing to Seip, but he's a realist. He said that he thinks Martinez has maybe two fights left in him, and wants to maximize his payouts, so a fight against a Quilllin, still growing his buzz, is likely not in the cards. "Sergio is vulnerable," Seip said, making the point that the power-punching Quillin maybe wouldn't be a stellar risk-reward choice.

Darren Barker (26-1) holds one of the 160 crowns, but Seip thinks the IBF titlist will fight a few times in England, and make some dough in his native land. Martin Murray, who Seip thinks got at least a draw against Martinez when they clashed in April, is someone who could be in the mix in the near future for Quillin, as well, he said.

But back to Golovkin. Seip said contrary to the occasional Twittershpere assertions that Quillin wants no part of Golovkin, his guy has no fear of the hard-hitting Kazahk.

"Absolutely not," Seip said when asked if Quillin is avoiding Golovkin. "Golovkin's dangerous, a good fighter, has good boxing skills but he hasn't really fought anyone, though some might say that about Peter as well. To me, Golovkin is a junior middleweight, he hasn't been touched by a Quillin. He's a walk-down guy, but the people Peter touches seem to change their style. That'd be a fabulous fight for boxing. If it didn't happen because of politics, then the fans would get screwed."

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The case for a Malignaggi-Broner rematch

July, 12, 2013
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?
Madison Square Garden can certainly boast about their pugilistic legacy.

Yes, it could be argued that they are in flux, as they might have to rebuild the building to comply with the New York City Planning Commission's order to improve Penn Station, but the Garden's supporters can always boast that MSG hosted the single most anticipated boxing event of all the ages, the first clash between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, on March 8, 1971.

Some would argue that the Garden of today could be compared to a late-era Ali, perhaps slightly distracted by a myriad of deals and balls in the air, but still, Ali was Ali, and could never be dismissed as a shoe-in to stumble on the big stage.

And when Floyd Mayweather was in town last week, in Times Square, on the first leg of his promo tour to tout his Sept. 14 scrap with Canelo Alvarez, he was asked about maybe fighting at MSG, and teased the crowd, asking if they'd like to see him fight at MSG. The reputation still stands.

MSG also could counter the Barclays-Ratner-Yormark bid of their non-exclusivity, having hosted cards put on by Top Rank -- the bitter rival to Barclays favorite Golden Boy -- as well as Golden Boy, and Main Events, in the last seven months.

Word is at the re-done Coliseum they'd do bigger boxing shows in a proposed 14,500 shed, and smaller boxing events in a 1,700 setup.

Yormark, though, during our chat, kept coming back to Barclays' grassroots efforts to nourish boxing, and he thinks that effort is a differentiator in the bidding.

"Having Zab Judah, 'Kid Chocolate' Peter Quillin, Danny Jacobs and Wladimir Klitschko, as well as Floyd Mayweather, for our most recent show means we're doing something here," he said. "We feel boxing out on Long Island can also be terrific."

As a pot sweetener, Yormark said the Ratner-Yormark team wants to build some "legacy moments," along the lines of Jay Z's eight-night sellout string to open Barclays last year, to excite the masses about the spiffed up Coliseum, should their bid be the victor. "We want to close the building dramatically with a once-in-a-lifetime concert to get things moving forward and help people anticipate wonderful things, and then re-open with another concert that truly embraces the community," he said. Asked who could headline to bring max buzz, he said, "We want someone highly connected to Long Island."

My take: I root for the overall health and well-being of the sport I cover and respect so much. Whoever is best positioned and committed to building the brand of boxing, I approve of their efforts and actions. We're in the championship rounds, the bids are being examined; we shall see who has their hand raised by July 15, and gets to activate their vision for the Coliseum.

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Boxing at Barclays has quieted critics

July, 2, 2013
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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Floyd Mayweather showed up at Barclays Center last Saturday and took in the main event, a welterweight scrap between Adrien Broner and Brooklyn's own Paul Malignaggi, and drew one of the loudest cheers of the night when his face was shown on the giant screen.

This was no given, as Mayweather's detractors often outnumber his devotees at public appearances.

[+] Enlarge Floyd Mayweather
AP Photo/Rick BowmerFloyd Mayweather Jr. is the sport's current pound-for-pound king.
A not-uncommon reaction that night: Wouldn't it make sense for Floyd, who gloves up Sept. 14 in Las Vegas against Canelo Alvarez, to do one of his fights in Brooklyn at Barclays Center?

It turns out that sentiment is shared by high-level suits at Barclays. I reached out to Barclays, and a source there told me the thunderous reaction to the sport's top draw was an immediate catalyst to explore how to get Mayweather to fight at the arena.

On fight night, Mayweather sat with Barclays Center and Nets CEO Brett Yormark, and he met the man responsible for bringing the much-buzzed-about arena to Brooklyn, Bruce Ratner.

Ratner, I am told, has become much more of a fight fan since Barclays started hosting cards put together by Golden Boy last October, and could be open to helping bring "Money" to BK.

"There is certainly interest in both the ownership and the building to bring Floyd here," the Barclays source told me.

In the past, one hurdle to bringing Mayweather, the top earner last year in sports, has been the tax structure in New York state. Entertainers get a chunk taken from their earnings in New York, as opposed to in, say, Las Vegas, where they are not taxed. When you make around $30 million a fight, as Mayweather does, that becomes a consideration.

Somehow, that tax issue would likely have to be massaged, or worked around, for Mayweather to agree to hit Brooklyn for a bout.

Money aside, one could see other compelling reasons to lure Mayweather to Brooklyn. Among them: Floyd fights the second bout in a six-fight deal with Showtime in September. His foe, Alvarez, is probably the most anticipated of fighters from the opponent pool of those likely to get a shot against the mouthy 44-0 hitter. A fight with Broner would garner great buzz, and that could build into a high-demand option, but it isn't yet ... and besides that, Broner said he respects Floyd and wouldn't take the challenge even for $20 million.

So a Floyd fight in New York would add another level of buzz and hype that could serve to aid any promotion, even one featuring a "B side" that doesn't excite the majority of boxing fans.

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Peter Quillin has become a must-see guy. He simply puts people on their butt, and he has, I think, improved so much in the past couple years, and is now on such a higher plane because of a confidence boost that comes with holding a title belt, that I think his ceiling is higher than most of us thought possible.

I'm eager to see him test the ceiling.

[+] EnlargePeter Quillin
Elsa/Getty ImagesPeter Quillin could be an interesting opponent for the pound-for-pound king.
I chatted with Quillin on Thursday, at the final presser before the Saturday Barclays Center show, and it seems he's eager, too.

"I'm ready," the 29-year-old said about gloving up again. Showtime boxing boss Stephen Espinoza told me he thinks a date for Quillin might have to wait until October or November, however. The fighter said that bummed him out, that he wanted to fight three times this year.

I pestered him for a name, for a hint of who he'd like to fight next. He rolled over Fernando Guerrero on April 27 (TKO7 win, knocked him down four times) and, I think, did it in a too-effective fashion. By rubbing him out, he made it possible for naysayers to opine that Guerrero wasn't ready for his closeup. (Which, in fact, may have been true.) For that reason, I think Quillin (29-0 with 21 KOs) needs to secure a name foe, so he can prove to his detractors that he is the real deal. He offered me a wish list of targets.

First, he'd like a crack at IBF champ Daniel Geale. The Aussie puts his belt on the line against Brit Travis Barker on Aug. 17, so we have to wait and see how that plays out. Next, Quillin wants a crack at WBC champ Sergio Martinez. "And after I beat him, I want Gennady Golovkin," he said. "That's a superstar fight, a big pay-per-view. We'd build to that."

From his mouth to the dealmakers' ears.

One impediment: HBO has deals with both Martinez and Golovkin, and it looks like people want Geale to meet Golovkin. So Quillin might be the most obvious victim of the HBO-Golden Boy war, which has entities taking sides, and has meant that Showtime mostly buys Golden Boy bouts, while HBO mostly buys Top Rank product.

On the bright side, there will come a time when fan demand will break the icy patch. Who knows, maybe the call for a Quillin bout with an HBO fighter might force a kiss-and-make-up scenario.

Weigh-in goes smoothly; Schaefer exhales

June, 21, 2013
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.

Malignaggi, Broner spar at presser

June, 20, 2013

NEW YORK -- If I had to turn in a scorecard, I'd say Paul Malignaggi won the first part of Thursday's news conference at Barclays Center ahead of his Saturday title defense against Adrien Broner.

Broner, the (maybe) next big thing out of Cincinnati, won the second half of the event.

Promoter Richard Schaefer of Golden Boy asked the gents to play nice, requesting they stick to the topic and sphere of boxing and not digress into personal matters, as has occurred repeatedly in the buildup to this Showtime clash. Broner months ago had started the ball rolling when he referenced a woman he said he was friends with who said she'd dated Malignaggi. The nature of that relationship and quality of interaction was debated, and often in some rather raw terms, in the public sphere and on the Internet.

So Schaefer -- rightly, in my opinion -- asked that the fighters not go there again.

Adrien Broner
Jeff Bottari/Golden Boy/Getty ImagesDid Adrien Broner's stunt get in Malignaggi's head?
Broner, though, fancies himself a provocateur in the Floyd Mayweather vein, and brought his lady friend to the presser, and pointed her out to Malignaggi. The Brooklyn-bred boxer tried, it appeared, to not delve into the subject, but couldn't help himself. He addressed the lady, and quizzed her, asking if she knew the name of his mom, as a test to prove her true level of history with him.

The issue died down, and the two men did a staredown for the cameras, but Malignaggi, who works as an analyst for Showtime when he's not gloving up, kept fuming. He looked to exit the building posthaste, and only slowed down long enough to answer a few questions from Showtime. He then collected his crew and strode to the exit.

Broner was left with a gaggle of media around him. He insisted he didn't bring the lady to Brooklyn to get under Paulie's skin, but declared that her presence did just that.

Malignaggi scored with lines like, "Stop trying so hard. People see through you. Be yourself," and "Broner is a talented fighter but [adviser] Al Haymon has got him where he is." But when Malignaggi defied Schaefer's wishes and spoke to Broner's guest, it seemed as though, perhaps, his focus was shifted. And when he appeared salty after the event, one had to wonder if Broner's ploy worked.

Could Malignaggi fight a different fight than perhaps he should on Saturday, in an attempt to punish Broner for his stunt?

Maybe, but I'm guessing the 12-year vet collects himself, shrugs it off, gets on message and fights the sort of fight, tactically, he intended to all along.

Your thoughts, readers? Did Broner get into Paulie's head and plant a bad seed?