Zab Judah vs. Paulie Malignaggi set
Get ready for the Battle of Brooklyn.
Former junior welterweight and welterweight titleholders Zab Judah and Paulie Malignaggi will fight for their New York borough bragging rights when they meet on Dec. 7 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, a bout that will air on Showtime.
"That's their home and they want to be No. 1 at home," Golden Boy Promotions chief executive Richard Schaefer told ESPN.com on Friday after finalizing the fight. "I think it's a fascinating fight. This is about pride. These guys do not want to lose in front of their home crowd, especially to another guy who is also from their hometown. So it's about pride, Brooklyn pride. It's the Battle of Brooklyn."
Judah and Malignaggi will flip a coin via a Skype video conference to determine what the fight will be billed as for the news conference, Judah-Malignaggi or Malignaggi-Judah.
Malignaggi, who turns 33 next month, and Judah, who turns 36 later this month, have known each other since they were teens and have been friendly.
But business is business.
"I think the fight could have been made for more money for us, but it's made now and it's a fight the fans still want to see. We're going to battle for Brooklyn," Malignaggi told ESPN.com. "We've circled each other's orbit for a long time."
Judah (42-8, 29 KOs) and Malignaggi (32-5, 7 KOs) are both coming off decision losses in world title fights in Brooklyn. Judah lost a tough battle to then-junior welterweight titleholder Danny Garcia in April in a fight in which Judah got knocked down but had Garcia in trouble late in the fight. In June, Malignaggi lost his welterweight belt by split decision to Adrien Broner.
Now Judah, who is returning to welterweight (where he once held the undisputed championship) and Malignaggi face each other in a fight that will probably move the winner into another title opportunity but seriously damage the loser's prospects.
"When you saw Paulie fight Adrien Broner in June, that was the best Paulie Malignaggi we've seen in a long time even though he didn't get the decision," Schaefer said. "And when Zab Judah fought Danny Garcia, same thing. So now they'll fight each other, and if they both fight as well as they fought in their last fights, this is going to be a great fight."
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A news conference to announce the fight is scheduled for Tuesday at the Barclays Center. Schaefer said Judah and Malignaggi will flip a coin via a Skype video conference to determine what the fight will be billed as for the news conference, Judah-Malignaggi or Malignaggi-Judah.
Then, at the Tuesday news conference, Schaefer said there would be a series of coin flips to determine the billing for the remainder of the promotion as well as to iron out such issues as who walks to the ring last, who is announced last and who has to weigh in first.
Surprisingly, Malignaggi and Judah have never sparred together, despite having sparred with a who's who of New York fighters.
"It never happened. I know it's surprising," Malignaggi said. "I think I sparred everyone else there was to spar in New York. I think it'll be a good fight. I know it's hard to pick a winner. There are advantages for both of us. We'll get the answer on Dec. 7."
Malignaggi would have preferred a rematch with Broner, but when that had little chance of happening, Malignaggi accepted the fight against Judah, who was on board from the outset.
In the co-feature, Schaefer said that interim junior middleweight titlist Erislandy Lara (18-1-2, 12 KOs), 30, a Cuban defector living in Houston, would face fellow southpaw and former titleholder Austin Trout (26-1, 14 KOs), 28, of Las Cruces, N.M., in a matchup of slick boxers.
Lara, a former world amateur champion, got dropped twice but won a vacant interim belt in June via 10th-round knockout of Alfredo Angulo in an unexpected brawl. Trout won a vacant world title in 2011 and made four successful defenses, including outpointing Miguel Cotto last December, before suffering his first defeat via unanimous decision to Saul "Canelo" Alvarez in April.
"Most people have Lara and Trout in their top-10 rankings at 154 pounds and it's a 50-50 kind of fight," Schaefer said. "Trout is coming back to New York where he beat Cotto and he's ready to go. Lara is coming off a big win against Angulo and taking on another top guy. It's a meaningful matchup between two of the best 154 pounders and the winner is in line for a big fight."
Schaefer said Golden Boy is now Trout's promoter after his split from Greg Cohen. Trout had been ordered by a sanctioning body to do a title elimination bout against former titlist Cornelius "K9" Bundrage but instead opted to face Lara for another organization's interim title.
Schaefer said a third bout -- while not officially on the card yet -- probably will open the telecast and feature super middleweight titlist Sakio Bika against Anthony Dirrell in a match that had been scheduled for Oct. 26 but postponed because Bika hurt his shoulder and had to miss some training time.
"The fight is done, but I'm still in discussions with Showtime about making the card a tripleheader," Schaefer said.
Bika (32-5-2, 21 KOs), 34, a Cameroon native living in Australia, won a vacant title via hard-fought majority decision against Marco Antonio Periban in June and will be making his first defense. Dirrell (26-0, 22 KOs), of Flint, Mich., who turns 29 on Monday, knocked out Anthony Hanshaw in the third round on July 27 in his second win of the year.
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