Regionally speaking, the Zab "Super" Judah (42-8, 29 KO) vs. Paulie "The Magic Man" Malignaggi (32-5, 7 KO) bout is important. Two of Brooklyn's most successful and proud former champions will do battle in the city's newest and most celebrated venue.
The Barclays Center has quickly become one of the premier sites for boxing events.
Aside from the BK relevance, there isn't a ton of weight being given to this fight from a title standpoint. It is for the vacant NABF welterweight title, but that is clearly a strap far beneath the level both fighters have reached at some point in their careers.
Both men are coming off of losses in their last bouts. Judah made a good account of himself against talented and undefeated WBC and WBA light welterweight champion, Danny Garcia.
Malignaggi lost his WBA welterweight title to Adrien Broner, but he gave him one of—if not the—toughest bouts of The Problem's career. Even with decent performances, it is hard to imagine either man seriously challenging any of the best fighters in their weight region.
Nonetheless, this is a fight on Showtime between two very recognizable names, fighting in their hometown. In addition to that, it happens to be the main event on a ridiculously strong card. Before Malignaggi and Judah clash, IBF welterweight champion, Devon Alexander, will defend his title against undefeated prospect, Shawn "Showtime" Porter.
Erislandy Lara will take on Austin "No Doubt" Trout for the vacant WBA light middleweight title, and WBC super middleweight champion, Sakio Bika, will defend his title against Anthony Dirrell.
Whether you buy into Judah-Malignaggi or not, it is hard to ignore the strength of this card. From top to bottom, it is one of the strongest of the year. Here's how you can watch the action.
When: Saturday, Dec. 7 at 8 p.m. ET
Where: Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
The Book on Judah and Malignaggi
The 2nd Half
After beginning his career as a can't-miss prospect and capturing his first world title when he was just 22 years old, Judah's career was dealt a blow. Kostya Tszyu famously stopped him with a wicked combination that left Judah mentally willing to continue but with a pair of uncooperative legs.
Tszyu took Judah's IBF light welterweight title on that night at the MGM Grand in Nov. 2001. Judah would fight just twice over the next two years. Though he would win another world title in 2003 and four more total, he was never quite the same.
Before the loss to Tszyu, Judah seemed destined for all-time greatness. The career he's had has been solid but not quite on the level most expected. If you're looking at a guy who won a total of five world titles, but still carries a title of underachiever, it gives an idea of just how talented Judah was in his heyday.
That said, he's still had moments over the last seven or eight years that remind us he still has a little left in the tank. At 36 years old, Judah can still be competitive with most 140-147 pound fighters, but beating them is something he's had a hard time doing.
In 2006, Judah was beating Floyd Mayweather Jr. for the first four rounds. Mayweather made a mid-fight adjustment, Judah didn't. An in-ring brawl nearly occurred in the middle rounds, and in the end, Judah was dismantled down the stretch.
Against Garcia, Judah fought very well in the second half of the fight, but he was rocked and battered early. Though he showed tremendous heart, he didn't earn the decision.
Judah wants respect. You can hear it in his voice when he talks about past fights, future bouts, etc. He knows how great the expectations for him were. To an extent, it sounds as if he wishes a few things in his career had gone differently.
Over the years, he's matured in the ring and outside of it. He was once known as hothead and loose cannon, but one interview or observation of his presence on social media is proof he's not that guy anymore—if he ever was.
In this the second half of his career, can the former champion muster up the types of performances that send him out of the sport with the respect and honor he craves?
A More Respectful Opponent
Chances are, we won't see the same side of Malignaggi in this fight that we saw during the hype and post-fight events of the Broner bout. Things got really personal between the two, and Malignaggi didn't take kindly to Broner's sophomoric mind games.
The Showtime analyst/boxer lost his cool a bit. It reminded me of the movie No Country for Old Men. Malignaggi simply couldn't understand or relate to a fighter like Broner, who seemingly had no respect for certain unwritten rules of the pre-fight hype game.
Against a veteran like Judah, the 33-year-old won't have to worry about a repeat. These two men have been nothing but respectful to each other during the hype.
Though this bout won't have title implications, it will be straight boxing, and that's something purists may appreciate.
What the Numbers Say
In 37 professional fights, Malignaggi has stopped just seven opponents in his career. When you think about the level of success he's had, (two-time world champion and 32 professional wins against top-level competition), the Magic Man has had a noteworthy stay as a professional.
It makes you wonder what could he have done with just a little more pop.
Judah has faced 12 current or past world champions in his career, his record is 5-8 in those bouts (he split two fights with Cory Spinks). His losses have come to the likes of Mayweather, Amir Khan, Joshua Clottey, Miguel Cotto, Carlos Baldomir, Spinks and Tszyu.
The five wins have come against lesser known champions like Junior Witter, Rafael Pineda and Terron Millett. This type of record is what lends credence to the concept that Judah isn't a big-fight performer.
Title Bout Championship Boxing Simulations
After having the bout simulated 100 times, Pisd's Title Bout Championship Boxing spit out the following statistics:
Judah won 77 of the 100 bouts, with 32 coming by KO.
Who wins Judah-Malignaggi and how?
Malignaggi took 17, with 12 wins coming by way of stoppage. The other six simulations ended in a draw.
As crafty as Malignaggi is, Judah may still have a quickness advantage over him. Judah was able to get off quicker than Garcia in the late rounds of their fight. That was impressive considering his age and the punishment he'd taken in the earlier rounds.
Malignaggi nearly pitty-patted his way to a decision win over Broner because he was able to show the young star a few looks he hadn't seen. The Magic Man won't have an experience, power or speed advantage over Judah.
At the end of the night, Judah will take the mythical crown as the King of Brooklyn with a unanimous decision victory.
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