Brooklyn's Judah Looks to Return to Boxing's Elite Against Undefeated Garcia
By John Torenli, Sports Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Zab Judah was one of the 17,732 fans in attendance during Monday night's Nets playoff game at Barclays Center.
When the in-house camera flashed the image of the former two-division, five-time world champion sitting courtside, there was a light smattering of applause as the sellout crowd seemed more concerned with the Nets' 12-point second-half deficit than Judah's upcoming bout with unified lightweight champion Danny Garcia.
That reaction figures to change drastically come Saturday night on the corners of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues, when the 35-year-old Brooklyn-born and raised "Super" Judah takes what could be his last shot at re-emerging as one of the elite headline boxers in the sweet science.
A heavy underdog to the undefeated Garcia, who will be making his second title defense in our fair borough after headlining the opening night of fights at Barclays back in October, Judah believes strongly, as any great champion should, that this will be a happy homecoming and a night to remember.
"He's got the championship and we're going to take it," Judah boldly proclaimed in the days leading up to the third big night of boxing in Brooklyn since the state-of-the-art arena opened back in September.
Judah, who has compiled 42 wins, seven losses and a pair of no contests in a borderline Hall of Fame career, was geared up and ready to take Garcia's multiple belts back on Feb. 9, the original date for this card. But Garcia (25-0, 16 KOs) was unable to go due to a rib injury suffered during workouts.
The fighter formerly known as the "Brooklyn Flash" took exception to Garcia's postponement of the initial engagement, even going so far as the question the 25-year-old Philadelphia native's willingness to take on his more experienced opponent.
“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," Judah said. "It’s all fixed up now in hopes that Saturday night we just get moving and put on a good fight."
Garcia is getting used to hearing his adversaries squawk in advance of what has been a recent string of impressive victories, including the Barclays-opening fourth-round KO of Mexican boxing legend Erik "El Terrible" Morales. His trainer and father, Angel, is never at a loss for words when defending his son, especially since overcoming a five-year bout of his own with Stage Four throat cancer.
“Danny doesn’t care what people say, but he is the champ," the elder Garcia stated. “The truth hurts. Zab Judah fought Vernon Paris a year ago. Paris gave him nine rounds. Zab had his day. This is a new era of fighting. This is the Danny "Swift" era. He is the champion of the world. When Danny is fighting, I am in the ring with him. His opponent is fighting two spirits, not just one."
Judah will also be fighting to stave off rumors that this is simply a hometown has-been getting a marquee fight against a star on the rise. With losses to Floyd Mayweather, Miguel Cotto, Joshua Clottey and Amir Khan since 2008, the aging southpaw has squandered a handful of opportunities to re-energize his career.
That hasn't stopped Judah from talking tough this week as the combatants prepared for Friday afternoon's open-to-the-public weigh-in at Barclays.
“It’s called killing two birds with one stone,” boasted Judah.. “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.”
Danny Garcia remained steadfast in his belief that Judah's words before the fight would be much louder than his fists inside the squared circle come Saturday night.
"I don't need negativity to motivate me. I'm a positive person. Negativity doesn't motivate me. I'm motivated by positive things," he insisted. "I'm ready to take over Brooklyn."
That leaves it up to Judah to defend his borough, his stature as a legitimate championship threat, and most likely, his career come the opening bell Saturday night.
And unlike Monday night, the crowd should be in full throat behind him every step of the way.
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Ring Notes: Also featured on Saturday night's SHOWTIME-televised Golden Boy event will be Peter "Kid Chocolate" Quillin, who captured the Barclays Center crowd with a stirring performance in his title-winning Barclays debut back in October. Quillin will take on 160-pound challenger Fernando Guerrero."Guerrero deserves a shot at the belt. It's something he worked for all his life, just like I did," Quillin said during Wednesday's media day workout at Downtown's historic Gleason's Gym. "Nobody's going to come here and beat me. I already know I can put in a hard 12 rounds. This time, I got the best that money can buy. I got the best trainers and the best camp. This has by far been the best camp in my whole professional career. I know I'm well prepared and I'm ready. I'm keeping this belt in New York City." ... Undefeated Brooklyn light heavyweight Zachary Ochoa (3-0) will also be on the card against Alabama's Calvin Smith (2-2). ... Also on the card of local interest Saturday night are Staten Island's Marcus Browne, a former Olympian, and Luis Collazo of the Bronx.
In local high school sports news, the St. Ann's baseball team appears to be back on the winning track after a slow start. Last year's ACIS runner-ups completed a two-game sweep of Brooklyn Heights rival Packer Collegiate with Wednesday afternoon's 8-3 victory. Junior Sam Premutico and sophomore Connor Haseley were both "fantastic" on the hill, according to coach Peter Zerneck. Sophomore catcher Luke Markus went 2-4 with a double, an RBI and a run scored and junior Lucas Mockler drove in two runs for the Steamers, who lost 10 seniors to graduation but are still in position to make a bid for their 11th straight playoff appearance. ... The Brooklyn Friends girls' varsity softball squad knocked off Churchill, 9-5, on Wednesday.