LONDON (Dec. 6) – Paulie Malignaggi has compared his weekend clash with Zab Judah to the classic Rome football derby, as he eyes a possible rematch with rising megastar Adrien Broner.
‘The Magic Man’ will be hoping to cast his spell in the ring on Saturday night, live on BoxNation, as he takes on Judah in a clash which pits the two Brooklyn natives against one another in front of their local followers at the Barclays Center in New York.
Pride is at stake for both men, who will be looking to take away bragging rights by being crowned Brooklyn’s top dog. And Malignaggi, who hails from Italian stock, has compared the contest to one of football’s fiercest rivalries – Rome’s famous ‘Derby della Capitale’.
“Hometown pride is at stake, so you definitely want to win. It’s a turf war – a battle – you want to have that pride of being the best in your region,” Malignaggi told BoxNation.
“It definitely has a derby feel to it, so to speak, like two teams who share the same stadium. If you’re familiar with football, it’s kind of like Roma and Lazio in Italy who share the same ground and when they play one another it’s a big rivalry – that’s how it feels with me and Judah,” he said.
“The fight has a different feel to it but it still has a big fight feel and I know how to approach big fights, so in that regard, it’s different but still similar – the approach remains the same,” Malignaggi added.
The 33-year-old has refused to overlook Judah and is expecting the five-time world champion to be at his very best when they go head-to-head after he impressed in his last outing against Danny Garcia.
“I expect that kind of Zab [that showed up against Danny Garcia]. I think if anything he can gain confidence out of the way he finished strong in that fight, so I think he’ll take that momentum and bring it to the early part of this fight – that’s what I anticipate,” he said.
“But I’m ready, I’m sharp and I’m focused. I expect that particular Zab Judah, the aggressive, explosive, confident Zab Judah, but I have a lot of the answers myself,” Malignaggi stated.
One thing that has been levelled at Judah in the past is his motivation going into fights, but Malignaggi feels that it is once he eats leather that truly disheartens his fellow New Yorker.
“I think Zab is always motivated, I think he always gets in the best shape that’s just excuses people want to make for him not living up to his talent,” said Malignaggi.
“I’ll tell you the problem with Zab is when you punch him in the mouth he tends to lose the belief that he can win the fight.
“It’s not a matter of him being out of shape or a matter of him not being focused – he loses focus when you punch him good in the mouth. So the trick is to make him respect you, make him realise that you are of a high calibre, high level, and from there you take away his self belief,” Malignaggi said.
“He starts every fight very confidently, very sharp, it’s up to the opponent to take that belief away from him,” he said.
The two-weight world champion is coming off a split decision loss to one of boxing’s rising pound-for-pound aces in Broner.
Malignaggi is keen to try and avenge his defeat after disputing the decision which saw him lose his WBA welterweight world title, with Broner now defending it against the sturdy Argentine Marcos Maidana.
“I want the rematch with Broner, or even Marcos Maidana, because it’s not a full gone conclusion that Broner beats Maidana,” said Malignaggi. I think it’s an interesting battle between the two of them. It’s a technically skilled fighter against a fighter who is raw, rugged, very strong and determined. It’s a clash of styles and also mentality,” he said.
“I think Maidana is a very dangerous opponent but if I could get the winner of that fight I would be very happy. But first things first, I have to focus on Zab Judah,” Malignaggi added.
Prior to the blockbuster Stateside, which also has three world title matchups on the bill, BoxNation will screen the cracking show taking place at the Echo Arena in Liverpool, featuring some mouth-watering clashes headlined by the much heralded Paul Butler.
‘The Baby Faced Assassin’, who is undefeated and currently holds the British Commonwealth and WBO inter-continental super-flyweight belts, goes in against Mexican Ruben Montoya as he looks to continue his march to the top.
“I’m feeling good and am raring to go,” said Butler. “I’ve done the hardwork in the gym and I’m going to show it against this kid. It’s not going to be easy because Mexicans are always tough but I know what I have in my locker and believe me there’s some very special things in it. Saturday night I’m going to put on a great performance and the fans are definitely going to be in for a treat,” he said.
Local Liverpool favourites Derry Matthews and Liam Smith are featured on a stacked card, with the all-action Matthews competing for the WBO European lightweight championship against Stephen Ormond, and Smith defending his British light-middleweight title against Mark Thompson.
Following the Liverpool show, Devon Alexander faces undefeated Shawn Porter for the IBF welterweight belt, Austin Trout and Erislandy Lara compete for the WBA light-middleweight title, with Sakio Bika putting his WBC super-middleweight crown on the line against the hard-hitting and unbeaten Anthony Dirrell, all before Malignaggi and Judah face off.