If the Saturday clash between WBA and WBC 140-pound champion Danny Garcia and ex-junior welter and welter titlist Zab Judah contains half the drama that the buildup to the fight has provided, then fans at Barclays Center and watching on Showtime will have gotten their money's worth.
Team Garcia and Team Judah butted heads on Tuesday, at a promotional appearance held at the Modell's sporting goods store across from the arena, with the Garcia crew maintaining that Judah crashed the event and thus spurred a dustup. No punches were thrown, but Garcia's dad/trainer Angel Garcia yelled at Judah, the 35-year-old Brooklyn-born hitter, and tried to flip a table. Promoter Golden Boy didn't want a repeat performance, or even a full-blown rumble, so they sent out word on Wednesday night to both camps that the final press conference would run differently than normal. The fighters would appear at the arena separately, and wouldn't cross paths, the promoter decided.
So, after Oscar De la Hoya talked about the headline bout, and the undercard attractions, and let fighters like Peter Quillin and challenger Fernando Guerrero speak, the dais was cleared, and the Garcias sat down. Angel, who has history of being incendiary and provocative, apologized to Modell's for the dustup the other day. The 25-year-old Philadelphian Danny Garcia (25-0 with 16 KOs) then took to the mic and said he was "gonna destroy" Judah (42-7 with 29 KOs). "I'm injury free, the most motivated I've ever been, and I'm more dangerous than I was before," Garcia said. He promised to "beat the s---" out of Judah and then sat down.
The press was then told that Judah had been waiting at the arena, but had left. De La Hoya commented to the press that Judah's conduct was "unprofessional." Lo and behold, 10 minutes later, word spread that Judah was on his way back, and would make an appearance.
Fifteen minutes later, after Team Garcia was hustled out, Judah, along with his father-trainer Yoel and about eight other crew-members, took to the mic. "You called me unprofessional," Judah accused De La Hoya, who was about seven feet away from him, on the stage. Bernard Hopkins stepped between the men, to blunt any escalation.
"He made a comment," Judah said of De La Hoya. "You got to fix your facts first. I never had a problem with you!" Oscar took sips from a water bottle, a tight look on his face, but he didn't respond.
Judah complained that he'd been in the arena, with some of his crew, since 11 a.m. He said that he felt disrespected, a second class citizen and deserved better with almost 17 years in the pro game. He took questions from the press and said that he did indeed return to Barclays after reading on Twitter that De La Hoya called him "unprofessional."
He said he crashed the Modell's event not to make trouble, but to support fellow Brooklyn and New York talents Danny Jacobs, Peter Quillin and Marcus Browne. He implied that he did so to send a message that Brooklyn is his turf. He said, "I was born and raised in Brooklyn!" The veteran fighter had choice words for the senior Garcia, who he called a "dopehead" and a "custie," which is street slang for a user.
Judah then got off the stage and was barraged with more questions from the press. After a few minutes, Oscar came over and shook his hand, nodded at him, without saying anything, and left. Judah explained further that he came back for the presser to show he's "not a quitter, not a runner."
A source from Showtime told NYFightblog that Judah called Showtime executive Stephen Espinoza after the boxer left and said he was coming back, to clear his name. The source said that both camps were informed Wednesday night that the press conference would be formatted like this, so Judah should not have been surprised at the lengthy wait.
A weigh-in is to be held Friday at Barclays, at 1 p.m., and is to be open to the public. A source close to the promotion told me that switching the weigh-in to a private event is likely not an option, so probably arrangements will be made so once again, Team Judah and Team Garcia don't cross paths.
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