Brooklyn to host two title bouts
Decades have passed since there was a world title fight in Brooklyn, N.Y., but there will be two at the new Barclays Center on Oct. 20.
Golden Boy Promotions announced Wednesday that junior welterweight titlist Danny Garcia will make his second defense in a rematch against former belt-holder Erik Morales in the main event of the Showtime-televised card. Brooklyn's own Paulie Malignaggi will make his initial welterweight title defense on the undercard against Pablo Cesar Cano, an interim junior welterweight belt holder who is moving up in weight for the opportunity.
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The Barclays Center, the new home for the NBA's Brooklyn Nets, opens in the fall, and the fight card will be the first under an exclusive multiyear deal Golden Boy has to put on monthly cards at the arena.
The 24-year-old Garcia (24-0, 15 KOs), of Philadelphia, won a vacant title March 24 in Houston by dropping Morales in the 11th round and winning a unanimous decision.
Morales had been stripped of the belt at the previous day's weigh-in for coming in overweight. However, Morales, one of Mexico's all-time greats and a former four-division titleholder, had a rematch clause in his contract, which he exercised after Garcia knocked out Amir Khan in the fourth round of a July 14 unification bout.
After losing to Garcia, Morales talked about retiring, but that did not last long.
"He gave me the opportunity, and I feel like he's a legend," Garcia told ESPN.com. "He made his mark in the sport. So since he gave me the opportunity, I'll give him the opportunity, and we'll give the fans another great fight.
"I feel like the first time I gave him too much respect. It was my first world title fight, I was in against a legend and it was my first time fighting on HBO. This time, I'm the champion and I'm going in to handle business. No respect."
Morales (52-8, 36 KOs), who turns 36 on Sept. 1, enjoyed significant crowd support in Houston for the first fight because of the heavy Mexican turnout. Garcia, whose family is from Puerto Rico, undoubtedly will be the crowd favorite in Brooklyn.
"I think it will be a big difference for him," Garcia said. "He's never had a fight on the East Coast. It's going to be different for him. It'll be a little chilly, so it may be tough for him taking off the last few pounds. I got a lot of fans coming from Philly and I have fans in New York. I'm pretty sure I'll have the support there. He better make weight this time.
"I am just blessed to be in this position and bringing a big fight back to the East Coast. My mom was born in New York, born in Queens, but it's still New York City. I got cousins there, I have friends there."
Malignaggi (31-4, 7 KOs), 31, has fought many times in New York, but not in his home borough since making his pro debut -- a first-round knockout of Thadeus Parker in July 2001.
The former junior welterweight titlist moved up to welterweight in 2010, and has won four consecutive bouts, including perhaps the most impressive victory of his career on April 29. That is when Malignaggi went to Donetsk, Ukraine, and stopped Vyacheslav Senchenko in the ninth round in his hometown to win a welterweight world title.
Cano (25-1-1, 19 KOs), 22, of Mexico, claimed an interim 140-pound belt via seventh-round technical decision against Johan Perez on July 21. The fight ended after Cano -- who suffered his only loss on a 10th-round knockout to Morales in a vacant junior welterweight title bout in April 2011 -- suffered a terrible cut over his right eye as a result of an accidental head-butt.
Also on the Showtime broadcast will be 29-year-old middleweight contender "Kid Chocolate" Peter Quillin (27-0, 20 KOs), who lives in Manhattan but spent many years in Brooklyn, which he considers a second home to his birthplace of Grand Rapids, Mich. Quillin's opponent has not yet been determined.