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The bad blood between unified junior welterweight titleholder Danny Garcia and three-time titlist Zab Judah continues to boil.
When they meet on Saturday night (Showtime, 9 ET/PT) at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., it will be the culmination of a rancor-filled promotion that suffered through one delay, which only ratcheted up the bad feelings to the point at which promoter Golden Boy made the last-minute decision to not have them appear together at Thursday's final news conference over concerns that things could get ugly -- yet again.
"We thought it was the right thing to do," Golden Boy president Oscar De La Hoya said. "We want to see a fight Saturday night. We just didn't want to risk anything."
There had been an unexpected confrontation on Tuesday night after the fighter camps got into it at a meet-and-greet for fans at a Brooklyn sporting goods store when Judah crashed Garcia's appearance. Judah had been invited to participate but turned it down and showed up only after learning that Garcia was there. It resulted in a skirmish that wound up spilling into the parking lot.
That led to increased security at the gym in New York where Garcia was training, as well as the decision to keep the camps apart on Thursday.
It is highly unusual for fighters to appear separately at a final news conference. One notable exception came in 2002 when then-heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson held separate news conferences days before their much-anticipated title fight because of the extreme tension between the fighters, which had already turned the initial news conference to announce the bout into a melee.
|Danny Garcia has left most of the talking to his father and trainer, Angel Garcia, but the animosity between the fighter and Saturday's opponent, Zab Judah, is clear.|
Garcia-Judah is nowhere near the same level of fight as Lewis-Tyson was, but instead of meeting head-to-head on Thursday, Garcia and his team appeared first before leaving the building ahead of Judah's arrival.
"I'm a little disappointed because I couldn't wait to look in his eyes and snatch his soul out of his body," said Garcia, who will be making his third title defense after exciting fourth-round knockouts against England's Amir Khan last July and Mexico's Erik Morales in their October rematch, which opened Barclays Center for boxing. "I just couldn't wait to look in his eyes."
Judah was then ushered into the news conference area on the arena concourse, unhappy about the arrangement -- which he was not consulted about. He proceeded to go off on De La Hoya because he claimed he had been kept in a room in the arena basement by Golden Boy's staff without any food or water before being brought upstairs for the news conference.
"You might see some frustration up here because of how I was treated," Judah said, "but Saturday night I'll remember all of this. I'm gonna bring it to the table."
It was all just par for the course in this promotion.
In Saturday's co-feature, middleweight titlist "Kid Chocolate" Peter Quillin (28-0, 20 KOs), 29, who lives in Manhattan and used to live in Brooklyn, makes the first defense of his belt against Fernando Guerrero (25-1, 19 KOs), 26, of Salisbury, Md.
Immediately following the Brooklyn bouts, Showtime will shift to the Motorpoint Arena in Sheffield, England for same-day taped coverage of former junior welterweight titlist Khan (27-3, 19 KOs) facing two-time lightweight titlist Julio Diaz (40-7-1, 29 KOs) of Coachella, Calif., in a 12-round bout at a 143-pound catchweight. Khan, who owns a knockout against Judah but lost his title by knockout to Garcia, could meet Garcia in a rematch later in 2013.
When Garcia-Judah was originally announced in early December at a news conference at a restaurant in midtown Manhattan, it degenerated into a near-brawl as Judah almost came to blows with Angel Garcia, Danny's outspoken and outlandish father and trainer.
That happened after Angel Garcia took the podium and proceeded to trash Judah (42-7, 29 KOs), who eventually had heard enough. He stood up and confronted the elder Garcia. Then came the stereotypical pushing, shoving, cursing and yelling as hangers-on from the audience rushed the podium to insert themselves into the escalating situation.
All the while, Danny Garcia (25-0, 16 KOs) stayed to himself before finally taking the microphone when order had been mostly restored. He vowed to punish Judah, promising that the Brooklyn-born hometown fighter would be "laid out flat" and that he would knock Judah out inside four rounds.
The fight was supposed to take place on Feb. 9, but when Garcia suffered a rib injury two weeks beforehand, it was postponed until Saturday night.
Judah, 35, accused Garcia, 25, of Philadelphia, of faking the injury because, instead of training, he had supposedly been out partying and was not in shape.
"I mean, my opinion is my opinion. You know what I'm saying?" Judah said. "I don't really know, but Danny has got one story. We got another story."
|Zab Judah says he doesn't believe that Danny Garcia was injured and instead has accused him of rescheduling their fight because he was out of shape.|
Both fighters have had plenty of bad things to say about the other guy while they wait to lay their hands on each other.
"I'm really motivated for this fight. I think it's the most motivated I've ever been for a fight," Garcia said. "I'm gonna destroy him. I don't have to talk because I know I can fight."
Most of the harsh rhetoric has been between Judah and Angel Garcia, however.
"Zab's still gonna be a loser, [which is] what he is," Angel Garcia said during his remarks Thursday. "Zab can talk all he wants. He's trying to threaten us, like he's supposed to take our heart. He's underestimating Danny. Danny is still gonna be the champion for a long time. It's the new era of champions. … They could have had Danny here with Zab. It puts no fear in us."
The Garcias were gone before Judah spoke, so he had not heard what Angel had to say, but Judah ripped him anyway.
"Angel Garcia, excuse my French, is a dope-head," Judah said during his 15-minute stream of consciousness. "Look at the man; he's always going crazy. He must be a drug addict or an ex-drug addict or something, and he can't control himself. He reacts in a crazy, frantic way."
For Judah, winning the fight would mean not only beating Garcia and claiming another world title but also shutting up Angel Garcia.
"It's called killing two birds with one stone," Judah said. "Angel Garcia's a trainer. He's a father. He's the older man. I respect my elders. At the same time, I can't get in the ring and fight Angel Garcia. What do I do? I fight. I knock people out. I can't do that with Angel. I am going to knock Danny Garcia out and watch Angel come in there and pick him up.
"There's no excuses. We don't want to hear any excuses. We gave him his two months to let his rib heal up. His rib, neck, thumb, back, elbow, toe -- whatever he hurt. It's all fixed up now in hopes that Saturday night we just get moving and put on a good fight."
Presumably, all the back-and-forth that has gone on for the past few months will come to an end on Saturday night, ideally after a good fight.
Although Danny Garcia has left most of the talking to his father, he did have his say.
"[Judah] is just another guy in my way," he said. "They all say the same thing. They think they're going to beat me, until we get into that ring. I don't really have anything to say to him. I am going to do what I do best and punch him in the mouth."