Boxing will debut at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Oct. 20, and the press is on to spread the word about the show, which is topped, nominally, by a Danny Garcia-Erik Morales rematch, but in reality, by the New Yorkers who are fighting on the card, and the building in which the fights will be fought.
Golden Boy Promotions, the entity headed by Oscar De La Hoya, is promoting the card at the 675,000-square-foot venue. Golden Boy gathered up Brooklyners Paul Malignaggi (who fights Pablo Cano in the first defense of his WBA welterweight title) and Danny Jacobs -- in his first fight back after beating back cancer, and a tumor which wrapped itself around his spine -- and had them work out at Gleason's Gym on Tuesday.
A cluster of media and fighters formed around Malignaggi when he entered gym; the 31-year-old who now lives in L.A. quickly spotted and greeted Jacobs, age 25, who now lives in Park Slope. They both smiled widely when Brett Yormark, the Barclays Center CEO, approached them. Malignaggi lifted his shirt to show his six pack and prove to Yormark that he was close to being at the welterweight limit.
NYFightBlog queried the Bensonhurst-bred boxer as he shadow-boxed a few rounds and kept a sweat going after skipping rope. He admitted that he would like to steal the show from the headline bout, but will take care not to get distracted, and try to over-impress the audience. He expects hundreds of friends, family and rooters to be in the building, which will be set up to seat about 16,000, according to Golden Boy COO David Itskowitch, who oversaw the press gathering.
One of the game's most persistent and effective self-promoters, Malignaggi was asked if he would once again Tweet during his fight, as he did on April 29, in the Ukraine, when he beat Viacheslav Senchenko and won his crown. "I will try," he said, while throwing one-twos during his shadow-box session. "I always want to be entertaining."
Malignaggi touched down in NYC on Saturday and took part in the NYC Columbus Day parade on Monday. He said camp went well and he is ready to show the 23-year-old Cano his skill set. "I'm tired of training," he said. "I want to fight."
Danny Jacobs, who grew up in Brownsville, the neighborhood in Brooklyn which boasts alumni like Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, Mike Tyson, Riddick Bowe and Zab Judah, admitted that he didn't know all that much about his foe for the night, 13-1 Missourian Josh Luteran. "I've seen a couple of tapes. I know his name is Josh something," the 22-1 fighter said, with his often-present accompanying grin.
Jacobs expects to be emotional on fight night, he said, as he has not fought since March 2011, because he was diagnosed with cancer after that, and the disease left him paralyzed for a spell, and near death. "I told my girlfriend that I may fight some tears," he said. "It has been an emotional roller coaster."
And what should Luteran expect from Jacobs after such a lengthy layoff, during which time he had to fight harder than he had during his tenure as a celebrated amateur (which included four N.Y. Golden Gloves titles) and professional? "He should expect to feel my year-and-a-half of frustration," he said, again breaking in to a wide smile.
Yormark said he expects the building, which just enjoyed eight sold-out nights from Nets partial owner Jay Z, to be a stellar venue for boxing. He said that the first Nets practice, on Sunday, indicated to him that the new building will provide an intimate atmosphere, which will heighten the drama of the fighting. Itskowitch said the next boxing date at Barclays is still being discussed, and January is a strong possibility.
Check back on the NYFightBlog for more on Jacobs as he opens up about his cancer battle, and more from Itskowitch, who talked about what might come next for the principals on the show.