Boxing: zab judah

Malignaggi tops Judah to plant his flag

December, 8, 2013
It was pretty darned easy to score the Paulie Malignaggi-Zab Judah fight at the Barclays Center on Saturday night. The man who worked harder for just about every second of every round, Malignaggi, had to have his hand raised. Judah, who promised we would see the old Zab Judah, appeared, not to be flippant, just old in the ring. He wasn't able or willing to launch, and save for the second round, when he scored an iffy knockdown, Malignaggi could lay claim on winning every frame.

Malignaggi went 220-607, to 121-498 for Judah, in the "Battle of Brooklyn," which saw the neighborhood of Bensonhurst gain bragging rights over Brownsville on this night.

The 33-year-old Malignaggi's jab was the difference maker. He went high and low with it, and threw in some rights just to keep Judah, who looked every day of 36, honest. Malignaggi won the jab contest, 122-67.

Judah said afterward that Maliganggi "didn't want to engage." He did -- just on his terms, actually. Judah said his rival stood on the outside and jabbed, but he didn't say why he didn't adjust to get past that. He said he will think about what's next and gave no hint of retirement.

Amir Khan, the British ex-champ who might well get a Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight in May, was calling the fight for Showtime. He told me that if he were with Team Judah, he would tell Zab to retire, so as not to tarnish his fine legacy.

Readers, do you think Judah will continue ... or should?

Zab Judah's secret weapon? His dad

December, 5, 2013
We fight writers can get into a cynical mode after a few years of hearing recycled trash talk, or promises of superlative performances to come.

Boxers state that their next bout will be their best effort, that this camp has been stellar, that viewers are in for a treat ... blah blah blah. I pride myself on not getting into that mode, because 1) I acknowledge how fortunate I am to be doing this for a living, so I take pains not to slip into that hardened hack type of personality and 2) I think the fighters, who put their lives on the line for our entertainment, deserve the benefit of an open mind from the people covering them.

But, I admit, I’m not typically blown away, or swayed in one direction, when I hear a fighter say, as Zab Judah (42-8 with 29 KOs) did today at a Barclays Center press conference to hype his Saturday “Battle of Brooklyn” clash against Paul Malignaggi (32-5 with 7 KOs), a Brownsville vs. Bensonhurt eliminator, that we can expect to see the “old” version of Judah come fight night.

Not that I don’t respect Judah’s belief in that statement, but so much of the talk before so many fights is empty, and signifies next to nothing. So, I noted that element of Judah’s speech while he had his turn at the mic, and moved on. I heard the 33-year-old Malignaggi say that he gets into warrior mode on fight night, and if it happened that they pitted him against his mum, he’d pop her in the nose when the bell rang, because that’s who he is, a fighter. I heard undercard scrapper Anthony Dirrell, going up against WBC 168-pound champ Sakio Bika, promise to stop the Australian resident, and I heard Bika postulate that he didn’t think Michiganer Dirrell had the testicular fortitude to do that, because he’s the sort who does what he needs to do to win the fight. I heard Austin Trout of New Mexico, but with NYC roots, and Cuban-born Erislandy Lara, vying for a win and a money shot against Canelo Alavarez, both promise they’d get the W in their 154-pound clash. I heard Shawn Porter of Ohio announce that he was the Man, the young, hungry battler ready to embrace his first title shot against Devon Alexander, and I heard the IBF welter champ Alexander, a proud St. Louis resident, say that he had the fight already won, because of his experience and technical superiority. I listened to and chuckled at Bernard Hopkins of Golden Boy, who emceed the event, as he cracked wise, kept it light, butchered pronunciations and cleverly played the devilishly rogueish instigator to stir the pot.

But after all that, I didn’t get a true sense of what Judah meant when he promised the old Zab until I left the arena, as I was headed back to Park Slope to write. Outside, I saw Yoel Judah, Zab’s dad. He said that he is back training Zab, and that it will pay dividends on Saturday. “I know how to trigger him,” Yoel told me. “Nobody else can do it. My brother tried, Pernell Whitaker tried, nobody can do it, that’s why he came back home.”

In fact, I thought Zab had reunited with his dad for his most recent fight, a loss to Danny Garcia. But no, in fact, the last time Yoel trained Zab was for his March 2012 fight against Vernon Paris. Not coincidentally, I don’t think, I was impressed by Zab in that fight, mostly with his hand speed and his ferocity. He looked to hammer Paris, trap him in a corner and unload.

Yoel said we will see the same from his son, now age 36, against Malignaggi. “He’s that guy again, young and hungry and ferocious. To get him motivated, I bring up the streets, Brownsville, the hood. We don’t ask for it, we take it. This guy has something you want, shut him down. I’m going to say things that’s going to make him stand up and beat this kid. When Zab throws combinations he’s unstoppable.”

Zab worked with his uncle, James Harvey, for the Garcia fight in April, and with Hall of Famer Whitaker for his loss to Amir Khan in July 2011. Dad said his son does things for him he can’t and won’t do for anyone else. “It’s a fight, you beat the hell of him, it’s not about sticking it out, stand there popping jabs, go get him! Paulie been stopped by his corner,” Yoel said, “but he’s never been hit on the chin and dropped. That’s what we plan on doing.”
Put away your pitchforks, Paulie Malignaggi fans. Yes, on surface it may seem strange that the new arena, Barclays Center, is going to be open to boxing on Oct. 20 with a card tagged "Brooklyn Pride," and Brooklyn's best known pugilist won't be headlining the event.

But Malignaggi assures NYFightBlog that there is a viable reason for this, that it makes sense to have Danny Garcia-Erik Morales II headlining at the first fight card at Barclays.

"There is a longterm plan," the fighter, bred in Bensonhurst, told us. "My fans should stay patient, there is a very big fight coming, but it's hush hush for now."

Underneath the Golden Boy promoted Garcia-Morales II, Malignaggi told us, he will fight in a showcase scrap against 22 year-old Mexican Pablo Cano (25-1-1 with 19 KOs, best known for performing well in a loss to Erik Morales on 9-17-2011).

Malignaggi said he won't look past Cano, and put his WBA welterweight title in peril, because he has one eye on the mega-scrap he says is in the works, against a mystery foe.

"Cano I have to take seriously," he said. "He's a very good body puncher, he'll try to take my legs away. I will take him seriously." The 31 year-old fighter with a 31-4 mark said he expects the joint to be pretty packed with Mexicans rooting for Morales, and that he expects some hooting directed at him, on behalf of Cano.

Of the mystery foe and the date forthcoming, he said that news should drop soon. Malignaggi added that there were extensive talks with Brooklyner Zab Judah, and those fizzled, but that is a matchup that could come to fruition down the line. "be patient," the boxer said in closing. "I think my fans will not be disappointed."

"We will have fanfare at the arena, we will have lot of back and forth momentum in the crowd," he said.
He is 80 years old, and if I get to that place, and I told this to his face when he was in Brooklyn watching the ring action at the Aviator Complex on March 24, I do hope I am close to as vibrant, as with it, as in the game, as Don King still is.

Yes, boxing's Barnum isn't as busy as he once once. He runs shows few and far in between, none of them the blockbusters which he put his stamp up, like the The Thrilla in Manilla and the Rumble in the Jungle. His wife passed away in late December 2010, and we hear periodic stories of his own health woes, but in the flesh he is still a considerable and magnetic presence.

NYFightblog asked The Don what brought him to Brooklyn as we waited for ex heavyweight titlist Sergei Liakhovich to stride to the ring, where he would take the kind of whupping which makes man consider a new vocation, ASAP, at the hands of Bryant Jennings.

"I'm with this young man Vernon Paris, I want to see if the transition is going to take place, the old going on and the young taking their place, coming on," King told me. Alas, his man Paris showed himself to not be quite ready for prime time, as Judah, faster, stronger, more seasoned and skilled, stopped him out in round 9.

When I referenced ole PT, King said it was a pleasure to be referred to at all, and noted he didn't take umbrage at being lumped in with the man (erroneously) credited as living by the credo, "There's a sucker born every minute."

"The mere fact that they call my name is compliment to me," King said. "I feel good about that. I'm a promoter, of the people, for the people, and by the people."

It was Barnum who used to say, “Without promotion something terrible happens... Nothing!”...and I was reminded of that saying as I pondered the sad possibility that megastars Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao might never give the people what they want, and sign on to fight each other. King has taken periodic stabs at aligning himself with Mayweather, and injecting himself into the equation as a lubricant to getting the deal done. But he's had no success. So I asked him why. Why hasn't the Super Bowl of the sport, which would be the top-grossing fight of all time, been booked?

"Give the people what they want and they will respond," he said. "It's about two things: inclusiveness, and respect. That's why they're losing the ballgame. They're arguing about money, as if money is more important than the fighters. Respect the guy, and you'll get him in there for less. When you disrespect them, it don't even be about money...They're too busy worrying about their feelings being hurt, and being talked to condescendingly, and patronizingly, rather than respectfully."

Money isn't the be-all, en- all, King said. "People are the most important asset."

Whenever I see King, I try to tease him about his political leanings. He backed George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004, and helped tip crucial Ohio, which Bush won by three million votes, to the incumbent with his stumping. In 2008, he backed Obama, and in Brooklyn, he exulted in the win for racial harmony that was Obamas' 2008 victory. He noted that "we aren't there yet," however, and the subject of the slain Florida teen Trayvon Martin came up. "For the man who shot him, right or wrong, to be still free, it's like the old Western days. It's very sad," he said, before shifting to an upbeat conclusion about the racial strides the US has made.

It's good to see King, yes somewhat humbled by the great equalizer that is time, still in the game. We've lost so many legends and icons and characters lately, Joe Frazier, Angelo Dundee, Bert Sugar just a day after I chatted with King, that I find myself embracing the remaining cast-members a little bit more fiercely.

Riddick Bowe to meet Andrew Golota, again

March, 27, 2012
Among the folks who attended Saturday’s Brooklyn homecoming at the Aviator Complex for Zab Judah, in which he pounded out a TKO9 win over Vernon Paris, was a man with a most familiar face, and a sportswriter's build. Riddick Bowe, two-time heavyweight champion who showed the fight game he had Hall of Fame talent in his wars with Evander Holyfield and Andrew Golota -- and some would say, sub-Hall of Fame diligence and judgment subsequently -- set up a table and sold signed photos of himself for $30 a pop while the action went on in the ring.

Bowe did quite well for himself in the early '90s, as he beat Holyfield, then seen as THE heavyweight champ, in Nov. 1992. But the decision-making of the Brownsville, Brooklyn, boxer, who was advised by manager Rock Newman, looked iffy when he made outsized demands in negotiations with Lennox Lewis. A 90-10 split in favor of Bowe was beyond insulting to Lewis, and fight fans to this day lament that that match never got made. In fact, I heard one fan buying a pic from big Bowe, looking husky but cheery, tell the fighter he wished the two titans had squared off, and Bowe admitted that he did, as well. Sounds like he wishes he never dumped his WBC belt in a garbage can, a symbolic exclamation point in rebuffing a mandatory defense against the WBC’s top-rated challenger, circa 1992, Lewis. I would have asked him about it, but he indicated to his handler that he didn’t want to do any media at the Aviator …

His guy Darren Antola apologized for the media diss, but did fill me in on what Bowe has planned next. Pro wrestling, it turns out. Against old foe Andrew Golota, who did so much to try and pulverize Bowe’s testicles in their two memorable bouts in 1996, both DQ wins for Bowe.

Antola said soon Bowe, age 43, will be going to a training camp to learn pro-style wrestling and that he and the 44-year-old Golota will “fight” in Poland. The spectacle will be available on pay-per-view, he said.

I told him, and I do mean this, that I, unlike many, won’t belittle Bowe behind his back, not for selling autographs, nor for taking part in what some would say is a demeaning exercise in self humiliation for rent money. Bowe (43-1), who last fought in December 2008, beating Gene Pukall in Germany, and who periodically makes noise about putting on the gloves one more time to test the shark-free heavyweight waters, could be any of us. Who among us hasn’t spent when they should have saved, assumed that a bounty would be longer-lasting than it was? Like the folks who sauntered over to the table, and bought a signed photo, and snapped a picture with the former champ, I prefer to remember the sleeker version who beat Holyfield twice, the guy who made it out of Brownsville and made his mama, and his 12 brothers and sisters, oh-so-proud.
He's 34, and his supply of chances are not infinite. Zab Judah is no longer the hungry young lion, the champ with tremendous longterm upside, or even a comebacking vet on the hunt for previous success. The Brownsville-bred boxer, who now calls Vegas home, is a survivor coming off a stinging loss, to Amir Khan in July (KO5), and he'll have to beat Vernon Paris on March 24 at the Aviator Center in Brooklyn, and look decent doing it, if he doesn't want to get transferred into the "tester" bin. If Judah (41-7; former junior welter and welter champ) doesn't want to be the guy who is fed to today's hungry young lions, he'll have to show more zest for combat than he did against Khan; Judah went down off a borderline low shot, and was counted out. He cried foul, in the ring and in weeks after, but he'll have better luck at convincing the fans and decision makers that he still has it by taking out the 26-0 Paris, who is based in Detroit.

The fight is an IBF eliminator, so the winner will be named to No. 1 contender at welterweight.

Tickets for the bout, which will take place at the Aviator Sports and Event Center, located at Floyd Bennett Field, are priced at $200, $100 and $75 and may be purchased by calling Peltz Boxing, (215) 765-0922, or online through

The bout will be televised as part of the new Fight Night Boxing Series on the NBC Sports Network. The non-televised undercard fights will begin at 7:30 p.m., the NBC Sports Network Fight Night broadcast will begin at 10 p.m. ET on Mar 24th.

NY P4P list, Nos. 9-6

November, 9, 2011
Ladies and gentlemen, here's the next batch of our NY Top 20 pound-for-pound list. No hate mail or Twitter torture yet from fight fans or the fighters themselves indicating that my judgement is absent. So far, so good.. But now we're into the NYC P4P Top 10, so we shall see if all will remain mellow.

9) Yuri Foreman:After suffering back-to-back losses, the Park Slope, Brooklyn, resident has taken some time to determine if his heart and head are where they need to be to continue in the savage science. A title loss to Miguel Cotto in June 2010 was understandable, a stoppage loss to Pawel Wolak in March less so. He's a stick-and-mover who might've been stripped of mobility by a knee injury suffered in the Cotto bout, so the 28-2 Foreman's best days might be past.

8) Danny Jacobs: The sky was the limit for Jacobs, until it came crashing down in the form of Dmitriy Pirog, who KOd the Brooklynite in round five of their July 2010 scrap for a vacant middleweight strap. He's 22-1 with 19 KOs but this is an unforgiving business, and they don't refer to him as "The Golden Child" so much anymore. One loss for a heralded kid, a four time GG champ, maybe the best NY amateur since Mark Breland, can send them back, back, back of the line. Fair or not, that's the way it is. We shall see if Jacobs can accept that, and get over it. He's only 24, so we bet he does, and by next year is a lot higher on this list.

7) Zab Judah: Zab had many thinking he'd gotten his head screwed on tight and was ready for a stunning and stellar third act. He found God, and Main Events thought the kid from Brownsville had become a man, and their next champion. Then he stunk the joint out against Amir Khan in July, going down on a body shot and crying foul that he was hit low. He's 34, and it's conceivable the ex-junior welter and welter champ, who calls Vegas home now, puts it all together ... but not likely. Humans typically revert to form when pushed, and sad to say, so while possessing skills galore, Judah (41-7) reverts to a manner which keeps him from excelling like he should. But the book's last chapter hasn't yet been written, so hope is alive.

6) Joshua Clottey: We might have to insert some sort of clause which speaks to how often guys fight, because while Clottey has more than a bit of talent, he finds reasons to stay out of the ring too easily. Often, he complains that purses offered to him aren't high enough. It's tempting to drop him down right now, and as I consider his woeful showing against Manny Pacquaio in March 2010 (wide UD loss). Clottey is 34, fought once in 2009, once in 2011, and is slated to have his first fight of 2011 on Nov. 19, against 21-6-1 Calvin Green. He's on thin ice.

Thanks to consultants Zach Levin, "Manager X," Kevin Rooney and Ryan Songalia for their input into the NYC P4P. Follow me on Twitter here . Send suggestions or hatemail to