Boxing: @Woodsy1069

Galarza, Redkach march on in Memphis

January, 18, 2014
Jan 18
Frank Galarza wasn't put off by John Thompson's peppy jab and wingspan in round one of their clash in Memphis. To start round two, the Brooklyn-born hitter came out hard and fast, surprising Thompson with a one-two. That buzzed him, and a left hook sent Thompson down for a 10 count in the semifinal on Showtime's "ShoBox" program, which took place at the Cook Convention Center in Tennessee.

The time of the stoppage came at :16 in the second round. You knew Thompson was in deep trouble when he pitched forward, face first. The 28-year-old came in as the underdog, but the loser entered with about 10 times the amateur experience. With just 11 amateur bouts under his belt, Galarza (12-0-2 with 9 KOs) has made up ground working hard in the gym.

Thompson, of New Jersey, slipped to 14-1.

Ivan Redkach, a buzzed-about power hitter, met Tony Luis in the main event.

The Ukraine native, Redkach (15-0 with 13 KOs; living in CA), and the Canadian Luis (17-1 with 7 KOs entering) fought at the lightweight limit, and the two gave fans a spirited scrap with a solid ebb and flow. After 10, the arbiters saw Redkach the winner, via scores of 99-90, 97-92 and 97-93.

Redkach looked to do maximum damage early, landing both hands with zip. A lefty, he fought around 300 times as an amateur, and his experience showed. He was calm while he looked to be hurtful, but he did eat a Luis launch at 1:50 which made him realize Luis was no joke, and maybe could have been ruled a knockdown, as Redkach's glove touched the mat. Luis went down and almost out of the ring, however, at the end of the first.

Luis was a bulldog in the second, always in Ivan's face. The Ukrainian's tendency to swing wide and long didn't do him many favors as Luis crowded him. That took away the stance advantage for the lefty, as both men were squared up for long periods.

In the fourth, Luis touched Redkach, nothing monumental but he was busy. In the sixth, Luis was hurt. He had to hold some, but he then cleared the cobwebs. A clash of heads opened a mean cut on Luis' scalp at 1:50. He then landed a sharp shot on Redkach which had extra mustard on it.

Neither man could pull away as we went to the 10th. Redkach craved a stoppage but couldn't pull it off and we went to the cards.

Fight vet Lampley sizes up Bute-Pascal

January, 17, 2014
Jan 17
Bute & PascalAP Photo/Paul ChiassonMontreal will witness a clash of local titans on Saturday night.
It is most definitely a big fight atmosphere in Montreal, with local big-shot light heavies Lucian Bute, a slick lefty, and the more basic, but also more rugged, Jean Pascal facing off in a tiff which will be shown on HBO Saturday night.

That said, anyone engaging in promotional hyperbole best not describe the matchup and buzz as on par with the 1980 Sugar Ray Leonard-Roberto Duran faceoff, which unfolded at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal with HBO play-by-play man Jim Lampley. The description ace told me in no uncertain terms that he expects a solid rumble between the two vets, but to his credit, served up truth serum to anyone overselling the beef.

"Anyone saying this promotion is bigger than Leonard-Duran, who's kidding who?" the stalwart fight-caller said. "There was a reason they drew 46,000 for that fight."

And this fight, what does he see unfolding at the Bell Centre between the 31-1 Bute and the 28-2-1 Pascal?

"It's two guys who may be a bit beyond their peak, with Pascal maybe a bit more past, and it could become very entertaining," he said. "It could be exceptionally entertaining. We need to see in Bute if he has the competitive fire left, how much he really wants to fight."

The 33-year-old Bute, born in Romania, and looking to rebuild his psyche after getting mugged (TKO5) by super middle Carl Froch in 2012, will want to outbox the 31-year-old Pascal, said Lampley. Pascal, he continued, will look to make a fight of it, try to give Bute a flashback to the Froch demo job, and make him wish he was back at 168.

And will the winner be graced with what could be an even bigger-deal clash against fellow Canada resident Adonis Stevenson, who holds the WBC 175 pound strap? "That's the logical next step," Lampley said. "Bute was once the king here, Pascal thought he could be king, but the king in 2013 and now here is Adonis."

Could rust be an issue with both men having battled injuries and inactivity? If so, Lampley said, we could see that rust have a more debilitating effect on the craftsman, Bute, rather than the man who relies more on muscles and grit, Pascal. "If Bute, a stylist and technician, isn't able to function at a peak, that's a problem."

Here's a tidbit: Lampley said that Bute trainer Stephan Larouche told him that the boxer craves a rematch with Froch. If Bute can handle Pascal, Larouche told Lampley, then all involved can wrap their brain around a sequel with the Brit. But first things first; this is a coin-flip fight as we count down to Lampley's call on Saturday night.

Salita presents blue-chipper Khytrov

December, 10, 2013
Dmitriy Salita hasn't closed the door on fighting, not even an inch. But I daresay that could change a bit depending on just how good his fighter Levgen Khytrov looks in his pro debut Wednesday night at Webster Hall in Manhattan on a show Salita is promoting.

The fighter-promoter talked up his prospect, showing his promotional chops as he informed me that the 25-year-old Olympian has fought about 500 times as an amateur and is comparable to Top Rank's much hyped 1-0 whiz kid Vasyl Lomachenko. "He's such a prospect," said Salita, whom I last saw getting the short end of decision against Gabe Bracero on Nov. 2 at the Aviator. "Blue chip."

Khytrov told me he's married, no kids and will relocate to Brooklyn from the Ukraine this month. He expects to weigh in at 163 and will campaign at middleweight. "The U.S. has the best boxers, best training, and I want to prove myself on the world stage."

The happiest man in Brooklyn

December, 9, 2013
Maybe the happiest man in Brooklyn on Saturday night was at the Barclays Center, and no, it wasn’t one of the fighters. It was advisor to fighters, Anthony Catanzaro, who was finally able to exhale and allow himself a deep grin when Paul Malignaggi made it 3-for-3. Malignaggi won the Battle of Brooklyn, proving Bensonhurst had the goods over Brownsville, as his ring generalship and zippy jab confounded Zab Judah, and gave Malignaggi a UD12 win.

NYFightblog chatted with Catanzaro on Monday and asked him to offer insights into Paulie’s win, as well as those of his other two scrappers, Matthew Macklin (who beat Lamar Russ via UD10 in Atlantic City) and Sadam Ali (who stopped Jesus Selig in Round 2 at Barclays).

Catanzaro wanted to first and foremost emphasize that Malignaggi deserves full credit for the win, and he doesn’t want critics to overplay what role age might have played in Judah’s timid effort. “Paulie had the perfect distance and timed Zab to perfection,” the advisor said. “He painted a masterpiece and he needed to because Zab has KO power in both hands coming forward. I don’t want to hear that Zab was flat, simply because in his last fight, against Danny Garcia, he came on late. This was about what a world-class athlete, Paulie, did in taking away Zab’s arsenal.”

Macklin got a B+ from his advisor.

“It’s hard to look good against a guy (Russ) who’s trying to survive,” he said. A rematch with Felix Sturm is a no-brainer, considering they fought a few years ago, and many thought Macklin deserved the nod that was given to Sturm, who just gained the WBA middleweight crown Saturday with a win over Darren Barker. “Also, a fight against WBO middleweight champ Peter Quillin makes sense,” he said. “Both will sell well, will be TV friendly and will give Matt an opportunity at a title ... and this time he’ll win. Also, Sadam put on a clinic, shook off the rust and got a KO.”

As for Malignaggi’s next, he has his sights set on Adrien Broner in a rematch of their June clash, a clash taken by the mouthy Mayweather act-a-like. Scouting that is a given, as Malignaggi will be ringside, working the analyst chair for Showtime Saturday as Broner tangles with Marcos Maidana, a heavy-handed but slow-footed challenger, in San Antonio.

“But, we’ll listen to all offers,” said Catanzaro, taking off his promoter hat in exchange for his advisor cap.

Readers, play matchmaker; who'd you like to see Malignaggi fight? One name that popped up late Saturday was 140 pound champ Danny Garcia, coming up to 147, to see if he can handle the tactics and smarts of the Brooklyner. Weigh in!

Arum on Pacquiao-Rios PPV numbers: 'It was OK'

December, 4, 2013
Some said promoter Bob Arum was taking an immense risk, financially and from a publicity perspective, by bringing Manny Pacquiao's Nov. 23 fight against Brandon Rios to Macau. Certain schools of thought said the pay-per-view would tank and the U.S. press wouldn't hype the bout as much because it would be an "out of sight, out of mind" scenario.

But Arum pronounced the event and the gamble (if it could be called that) a success as we talked about the pay-per-view buy numbers on Wednesday at a news conference to hype Arum's Saturday card in Atlantic City. The Pacquiao-Rios fight generated between 500,000 and 600,000 buys, he said. But that doesn't discourage him because the people who staged the event in Macau made up the difference in what was lost by not staging the event in Las Vegas.

"It was a drop-off from what we would have done, but it was OK," he said. "We knew it wouldn't do the same [as a fight held in the U.S.]. But we got so much more money to compensate, out of Asia, that it didn't matter. We figured we wouldn't do anywhere close to a million [PPV buys], so they compensated us for our loss. We made a lot of money."

Pacquiao's bout with Oscar De La Hoya had 1.25 million, and there were around a million for fights with Ricky Hatton, Miguel Cotto, Joshua Clottey and Antonio Margarito. His fights with Shane Molsey and Juan Manuel Marquez (their third tangle) each did about 1.3 million. Pacman-Tim Bradley garnered 900,000 buys and Pacquiao's most recent fight before the Macau bout, against Marquez, did over 1.4 million. Arum had hoped in the weeks leading up to the Pacquiao-Rios faceoff that they'd get over 1 million, but he didn't seem crushed in the least on Wednesday.

Pacquiao's next fight, against, perhaps, Marquez, Tim Bradley or newly crowned junior middleweight titlist Ruslan Provodnikov, will be the first time the infrastructure is in place to have people in China buy the fight on pay-per-view, so we shall see how that affects the buy rates, and overall take.

NOTE: To ESPN's Dan Rafael, Arum estimated a lesser number of buys, so it looks like the counting is still being done.

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Will Rigo run, or rumble?

December, 4, 2013
Donaire-RigondeauxAl Bello/Getty ImagesIs Guillermo Rigondeaux ready give network execs what they want to see in the ring?
Guillermo Rigondeaux, the Cuban-born hitter who violently opened up many eyes when he had his way with Nonito Donaire at Radio City Music Hall on April 13, and made the pound-for-pound ace Donaire look a step slow all night long, doesn't show a violent side as often as some would like.

The 33-year-old "Rigo," who headlines in Atlantic City and on HBO on Saturday night against Joseph Agbeko, drew scorn in some circles for moving too much in the Donaire fight, engaging in too much science and not enough violence against the Filipino-born hitter, who found it beyond hard to get a bead on the super-elusive lefty. In the HBO offices, some of the suits decided they'd rather not spotlight the Cuban cutie, and would rather divvy up money to guys who fight in a more "fan friendly" -- i.e. constantly combative -- manner.

Less waiting, more trading, is how you could phrase their wish list ...

Rigo's manager, Gary Hyde, told me Rigo understands the rules of the game. The people who pay you make the rules, most of the time. And if it is a more constantly combative style they want, that is what they will get, Hyde told me on Wednesday. We chatted at a press conference to hype the card, which also features a 154-pound showdown between Glen Tapia, a Top Rank fighter looking to inherit some of the love and attention that Arturo Gatti used to receive in AC, and James Kirkland, a bomber signed to 50 Cent, who's been working sporadically because of injuries and promotional issues.

"You will see an explosive Rigo," Hyde declared. "He put a beating on Donaire, and hurt him, and we expect him to bring it to Agbeko. We think Agbeko won't run, even when he gets a taste of Rigo's power. And while we don't look past Agbeko, Rigo is ready to fight anyone, up to 130 pounds. If Donaire wants a rematch, that's fine."

Agbeko spoke a great game at the presser, at BB King's. He implored Rigo to stand and trade. "Let's kill each other!" he said, noting that he expected to get hit, and deliver punishment as well. He said that fans deserve action bouts, and I dare say I think he wounded Rigo slightly by implying that the Cuban likes to run more than rumble.

Arum, who co-promotes Rigo with Caribe, and has one fight, one option left on Rigo after this one, mentioned a scrap pitting Rigo against the Ukrainian amateur stud, Vasyl Lomachenko, who meets title-holder Orlando Salido, the WBO feather champ, in his second professional bout next month.

Readers, if Rigo beats Agbeko, who lived in the Bronx but is living in Las Vegas and training with Roger Mayweather, who should he face next? Weigh in!

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Arum offers love to Mayweathers

December, 4, 2013
Brooklyn-born promoter Bob Arum, in town to hype his Saturday card in AC, took it gracefully when I aged him a year, and asked him if he was turning 83 on Sunday.

"82," he told me at BB King's, right after he'd thumped a tub for the card, portions of which will run on HBO, and is topped by a title defense for 122 pound titlist Guillermo Rigondeaux, who'll fight Joseph Agbeko, a Ghanian living in Las Vegas. Yes, Arum was in good spirits even though I potentially offended him with bonehead math, and that spirit had in fact infected his presentation minutes before.

Arum said that Rigo, a Cuban defector who won two Olympic golds for Mr. Castro, is likely the best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet, save only, perhaps, for Floyd Mayweather. And on the topic of Mayweather, Arum was most conciliatory, and gave off the vibes of a master politician when he told the assembled media that he is personally quite fond of all the Mayweathers. Floyd's Uncle Roger was present, because he's training Agbeko, a two-time champ, for the Rigo scrap, and Roger seemed to be on board with Arum's assertion. Same goes for Floyd Sr., and Floyd himself, Arum said, they all get along when they see each other and all are in fact quite warm to each other.

Was there a point to that tone, apart from being genial? I dare say there was; word is Arum would very much like to reheat the (stale? overheated?) negotiations for a Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather bout.

The promoter told me that the numbers are in for Pacquiao's last outing, a most triumphant effort in which he made Brandon Rios look like a mere club fighter en route to a twelve round domination session in Macau on Nov. 23. The pay-per-view did between 500,000 and 600,000 buys, he said, which is under previous Pacquiao efforts. But, he noted, the fact that the Macau hosts, Sands China, compensated Top Rank so handsomely for the privilege of staging the event that he isn't dismayed by the numbers decrease.

Check back for more details and tibits from Arum...

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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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Lara vs. Trout: 'They both hate each other'

December, 3, 2013
With four title fights on the card, the Saturday slate at Barclays is the most packed fight yet at the arena, which offered boxing for the first time on Oct. 20, 2012. The vacant WBA junior middleweight faceoff between Erislandy Lara, a Cuban fighting out of Texas, and New Mexico's Austin Trout, features some pretty high stakes, according to Lara's trainer, Ronnie Shields, apart from that crown.

With Floyd Mayweather signaling that he'll be campaigning at 147 pounds, the 154 pound hood is ripe for a takeover. The winner of this Lara-Trout bout, Shields told me, is in the mix big-time to get a scrap with Canelo Alvarez, the Mexican phenom who impressed fight folk with the intensity of devotion his fans showed in his last two bouts, a win over Trout and a loss to Mayweather. "Both guys have to make a statement," Shields told me at a fighter workout for press held at Gleason's in DUMBO on Tuesday afternoon. "With Floyd going to welter, someone has to step up and face Canelo. A win might force that."

No surprise, Shields likes his guys' chances to get his hand raised. "Lara told me he wants to punish Trout," he said. "These guys don't like each other. Lara wants to knock him out, and nobody's ever done it." Shields said he'd like Lara to take away Trout's jab, and be busier than him.

"It'll be a good fight, a technical fight, but Lara will show some different things than we've seen before," he said. "He's a little more angry. They both hate each other."

Shields, who has worked with Pernell Whitaker and Evander Holyfield, said he doesn't worry that his guy loses composure in trying to remove Trout's head from his shoulders. With the immense experience gained fighting in the highly structured and competitive Cuban amateur system, he said, there's little to no danger Lara leaves himself open for a vicious counter because he gets overanxious in his quest for a conclusive stoppage in his favor.

Lara enters at 18-1-2 with 12 KOs. He hit the deck twice in his last outing, a TKO10 win over Alfredo Angulo on June 8. Trout enters at 26-1 (14 KOs).

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For Kelly Swanson, no one-and-done

December, 3, 2013
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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'Real man' Kovalev aims to stop Sillakh

November, 27, 2013
These guys, these boxers from Russia and thereabouts -- the Golovkins, Provodnikovs, the Sergey Kovalevs -- you simply have to dig them if you are a fan of a fighter with a closer's mentality. Of course, we aren't painting with such a broad brush that we assume every guy who grew up eating Siberian snowcones is an in-the-ring assassin type, but the fight game has been reminded that oftentimes, being from a certain area does breed characteristics that help form fighters in distinct ways.

[+] EnlargeSergey Kovalev
Scott Heavey/Getty ImagesSergey Kovalev will square off against Ismayl Sillakh on Saturday in Quebec.
Sergey Kovalev (22-0 with 20 KOs), one of the new class of Russian fighters, a man who doesn't pretend that his job isn't to try and knock his foes' head off, gloves up Saturday night in Quebec. Promoted by Main Events out of New Jersey, Kovalev grew up in Chelyabinsk, a big town. I recently asked the 30-year-old boxer if growing up there makes him a better brand of fighter. What is it about growing up in Kazahkstan, like Golovkin, or Siberia, like Provodnikov, or Chelyabinsk that helps form your identity as a stopper?

"Just real men," explained the WBO light heavyweight champion who faces the Ukraine's Ismayl Sillakh in Canada, "who can and want real fights. We have good boxers and good wish to fight, because we're hungry. USSR, life was very poor. Here, it's open to a very good future. I see a very good future and therefore I will keep working hard because my family in Russia is very poor, my mom, father and sisters, and I want to help them."

He explained that after the USSR broke up, things grew tougher. There wasn't always enough food, and he had to work from age 11 to help feed the family. He worked in a gas station, collected empty bottles and cans, whatever he had to do to help the family.

As for Sillakh, Kovalev says the 21-1 foe, who has 17 KOs, is "dangerous. He will be ready for this fight, and I will be too. It will be war."

Kovalev comes off a career-best win, taking down Welshman Nathan Cleverly and wresting away his crown on Sept. 17 in Wales. He opened copious eyes with a TKO3 win over slick boxer Gabriel Campillo in Janaury. Sillakh's resume is thinner; he bettered then 8-0 Yordanis Despaigne in March 2011 (UD10). Sillakh does good work backing up, poking his long jab to interrupt his opponents' flow, and against Kovalev, he will need to to win.

HBO will show the scrap.

Previewing 'Boxing Chicks,' the movie

November, 27, 2013
There is a photo meme floating around the Internet which features a picture of a soldier being hugged by a mother, and the caption on the photo reads, "If mothers ran the world, there would be no war."

I love that declaration, and support it wholeheartedly. I'm of the mind that men and their testosterone and conditioning are responsible for so much of our societal ills, and basically think if an almighty arrived on the planet, and was able to demand that in 24 hours all heads of state had to be female, the planet would be vastly better off, right quick.

Courtesy of Terri MossTerri Moss (left) with one of her students, Cyndi Line.
Part of what makes females -- and I realize this is a gross generalization -- by and large better at being less destructive than men is their nurturing side. Call it a maternal leaning, an embrace of empathy and sympathy and a refusal to employ a "hit first and ask questions later" method of operation.

In the realm of boxing, such characteristics may in fact hinder the opportunities for women in the field. I'm eager to delve a bit deeper into this subject, and expect to test some of my assumptions when I check out the forthcoming documentary "Boxing Chicks," which is slated to be screened on Dec. 7 at the School of Visual Arts on West 23rd St. in Manhattan, as part of the Shadow Box Film Festival. The doc chronicles former pro boxer Terri Moss and the female fighters, both pros and amateurs, whom she trains.

I chatted with the 47-year-old Moss, who went 9-9 fighting pro from 2002-2007, and today owns and operates a boxing gym in Atlanta, about the flick. "We're trying to show the new culture of women's boxing, the support they have for each other," she told me. The doc follows a handful of women, and, Moss said, shows that the women go about the sport and enter it for different reasons than the men do. "A lot of the guys come in from the street, tough, but the women are not like that," she said. "Many if not most are college educated, and most are fighting for the pure love of the sport. Most women boxing today know they're not going to have all the fortune and fame. They just love the sport. They do it to prove something to themselves, whereas men more so box to prove something to the world. We're hoping the film does a good job getting that point across."

"Boxing Chicks" is set to run on Saturday, Dec. 7, at noon. For more specifics, click here.

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.

Thoughts on the Abdusalamov tragedy

November, 22, 2013
Mike Perez, Magomed AbdusalamovAl Bello/Getty ImagesMagomed Abdusalamov is lying in an induced coma from injuries suffered in his bout with Mike Perez.
If it bleeds, it leads.

That old adage holds true in the news biz today, just as it always has. Blood, carnage, horror -- these are ingredients for news, and stories featuring those elements are reliable eyeball magnets. Always have been, always will be. It is the way we are built.

We are fascinated, horrified and compelled to pay attention when the news is bad.

The reasons are both simple and complex. Bad news typically equals drama, as the principals involved usually have to answer difficult questions or tests bestowed upon them by fate. Because of that, our innate curiosity kicks in. How will they react, we wonder? And how would we react in the same situation? Soaking in bad or distressing news can also serve to buffer our ego -- better them than me, we may subconsciously mutter. My life isn’t so bad in comparison, we might infer.

The sport of boxing frequently finds itself inserted into the "if it bleeds, it leads" axiom. Over the past three weeks, the sport has experienced an uptick in prominent coverage from news outlets, and not because warm and fuzzy Hallmark moments came to the attention of news gatherers. No. One New York tabloid featured boxers on the cover of its Nov. 10 edition, because one of those featured in the front-page photo was lying in a coma in an NYC hospital after sustaining injuries during a Nov. 2 contest at MSG Theater.

The fallen fighter is Magomed Abdusalamov. The 32-year-old Russian-born boxer is in a bed at NYC's Roosevelt Hospital and on Thursday began breathing on his own, was taken off breathing support, was brought out of his induced coma, but not long after, was placed back into a coma by docs.

During such times, reporters cover the event and the aftermath and then opine. People involved in the event seek to comprehend the sad reality, process it and make some amends with it. That can be hard, depending on what sort of conscience you have.

To be involved in this sport -- and I don’t call it a game, I can’t, not when the ultimate price to be paid for participation can easily be death or severe disability -- one most engage in at least a certain amount of rationalization. The fighters know what they are getting into, we tell ourselves. Crossing the street can be a fatal act, we note. Life is short, and some choose risky endeavors because they want to maximize their existences during their span on this plane, we declare.

All these rationalizations pass the sniff test for authenticity, I believe, but that doesn’t mean we, the people who make a living off the sport, this oft savage science, shouldn’t continue to examine events like the Mago incident, labor mightily to process them and move on with increased knowledge and the expectation of preventing such a tragedy from occurring again.

Days and weeks following such an event, time and effort is spent by some involved to minimize their culpability, legally, morally, and this case is no different. But all in all, I feel like maybe the most fair reading of those campaigns is this: Magomed Abdusalamov was fighting Mike Perez at Madison Square Garden for every minute of all 10 rounds of his fight and in fact winged a hard left hand that just missed with three seconds remaining in the fight, and none of those involved had the benefit of a peek into the future. Knowing what we know now, different decisions would have been made. But that isn’t the way this deal works. People mostly do the best they can with the instruments and understanding they possess at that moment. By and large, I believe that all involved in the Mago situation did the best they could with the instruments and understanding they possessed at that time.

Atlas: Rios may be 'nightmare' for Pacquiao

November, 21, 2013
Manny Pacquiao-Brandon RiosChris Farina/Top RankTeddy Atlas explains why Brandon Rios "could be a nightmare" for Manny Pacquiao.
In chatting with Teddy Atlas the other day, I was most interested in what he had planned for his annual "Teddy Dinner," the fundraiser-gala he holds on Staten Island every year, which helps him raise money which is dispensed to people in need, who have been walloped by bad luck, or a frayed safety net, or both.

That jubilee, which always manages to make me feel a bit better about this frequently callous and ludicrous planet of ours, unfolds tonight, Thursday night. You can call the Foundation if you want to attend.

While I had Atlas on the line, I asked him how he thought the Saturday welterweight showdown between Manny Pacquaio and Brandon Rios would unfold. Pacman, a Congressman in the Philippines, looks to break a two-fight losing streak, and bounce back after being bounced to the mat and counted out in his last fight, against rival for the ages Juan Manuel Marquez, last December.

Atlas, as is his way, summed up his take with trademark directness. "Rios is there to bring Pacquiao back," he said. "He's a little bit of a name, people recognize it, there's some some credibilty there. He's also there because even if you close your eyes you can't miss him, he's sort of slow and predictable. He's a tough kid, can punch a little ... If Pacquiao is what he's supposed to be, Manny sweeps the room with him. Manny is too fast, too versatile, too swift, all those things ... but there's one potential problem, one giant fly in the ointment ... if Pacquiao doesn't have a belief in himself, if there are still ghosts present from his last fight in the ring with him, then Rios can be a nightmare. If Rios can survive, and he might get chewed up, let's face it, he's not a real developed fighter, he gets insulted if you miss him, if he can bring ghosts and doubts into the mind of Pacquiao, it could be nightmare for Pacquiao."

So, can Atlas hazard a guess what sort of Manny shows up in Macau?

"Nobody knows," he said. "Pacquiao does not know if he's OK. Last time he was laying face down at the end of the night. We won't know till the fight take place, that is the X factor. Yes, Rios is there to be the right guy, he's easy to hit, he's slow, Pacquiao is light years faster, yes, Pacquiao should tattoo him, yes, there's a chance mentally and emotionally Pacquiao is a shell of himself, or becomes a shell during fight. It will be interesting."