By John Torenli, Sports Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
It will be SHOWTIME at the Barclays Center on Oct. 20.
The cable network will televise the first big-time pro boxing event in our borough in half a century on that Saturday night, as a pair of world championships bouts will headline the card, which was officially revealed Wednesday by the soon-to-be-open arena in the heart of Downtown Brooklyn.
Bensonhurst native Paulie Malignaggi, originally expected to be fighting in the main event, will instead be on the undercard, defending his WBA welterweight belt against Mexican contender Pablo Cesar Cano just before WBA, WBC and Ring Magazine Super Lightweight champ Danny Garcia defends his WBC title against Erik Morales.
Tickets for the historic night, which will begin at $50, will officially go on sale the public next Wednesday. On Thursday, the fighters and promoters will be at the Brooklyn Bridge Marriott for a press conference, where future fight events at the Barlcays and the rest of the Oct. 20 card will also be discussed.
Barclays Center and former boxing great Oscar De La Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions previously inked a deal promising at least 12 boxing events annually at the 18,000-seat state-of-the-art arena, which will be the home of the Brooklyn Nets, our borough's first major pro sports franchise since the Dodgers left for Los Angeles following the 1957 season.
Malignaggi (31-4), who originally campaigned for a showdown with fellow Brooklynite and Orthodox Jew Dmitriy Salita in the main event, hasn't griped about the second-billing since word first started floating down last month that he wouldn't get the headline gig.
“There is a long-term plan. My fans should stay patient, there is a very big fight coming, but it’s hush-hush for now,” said the 31-year-old Brooklyn native, who captured his current crown by stopping previously undefeated Viacheslav Senchenko in the Ukraine on April 29.
The always-locquacious Italian-American fighter's "long-term plan(s)", could include future matchups against the likes of "The Brooklyn Flash" Zab Judah, and Britain's Ricky Hatton and Amir Khan, making Malignaggi a regular attraction on the corners of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues.
Of course, he'll have to get past Cano first, which might not be so easy considering the 22-year-old's 25-1-1 career record, including 19 knockouts.
"Cano, I have to take seriously," Malignaggi noted. "He's a very good body puncher, he'll try to take my legs away. I will take him seriously."
Salita, the odd-man out in the inaugural boxing event at Barclays, was obviously upset that he wouldn't get his shot at Malignaggi on Oct. 20.
“Paulie fighting Cano is pretty surprising to me,” Salita told World Boxing News last month. “I don't know how that fight makes sense for New York as Cano is virtually unknown there. I am in boxing myself and I have not heard of Cano. ... They know I want the fight and that it would be a major historic event in NYC, especially with the opening of a new Brooklyn arena. I feel very good and confident (that I can win) if my fight with Paulie is to happen, but the decision for it to happen or not is really out of my hands at this point.”
There is, of course, a chance that Salita will be on one of the other undercard bouts, which will likely be revealed at next week's press conference. If not, he's sure to wind up fighting at the Barclays eventually, due to his strong local roots and drawing power.
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Though he isn't scheduled to be on the Oct. 20 Barclays boxing card, Brooklyn native and former U.S. Olympian Sadam "World Kid" Ali continues to fight the good fight.
The self-promoting, self-managing 23-year-old announced Thursday that he would look to improve on his perfect 15-0 record on Oct. 27 when he takes on an as yet unnamed opponent. Ali, the youngest promoter in the nation until he finds suitable representation, will headline a card that will be tevelvised on Integrated Sports pay-per-view direct from his unofficial home arena, Brooklyn's Aviator Sports Complex.
"Right now I'm moving along well and still improving as I gain experience," noted Ali, who knocked out ring veteran Franklin Gonzalez in his promotional debut at Aviator back in June. "I decided to promote myself because I wanted and needed to stay busy to enhance my professional boxing career. Plus, I wanted to fight at home in Brooklyn, and not many shows are being promoted in New York City. I also wanted to give other fighters here an opportunity to fight but, honestly, I'm doing this primarily to build my career. I won't sign with a promoter until I have the right contract."
Ali, the first-ever Arab-American to fight for Team USA during the 2008 Beijing Games, will also offer local fans a strong co-feature, with unbeaten Columbian cruiserweight Santander Silgado (22-0), who also fights out of Brooklyn, on the undercard.
Guided by a strong family-based management team, Ali has taken the lead in his career, refusing to kowtow to more notable promoters in an effort to maximize his earning potential.
"I'm not waiting around for a promoter to place me on their card," he added. "Fighting on pay-per-view is going to be amazing. It's an opportunity for viewers worldwide to watch me box. The more fans who get to know me, the better for my career. No matter where you live, people will be able to watch me fight on the Oct. 27th pay-per-view show."
Ali has also opened his own gym in our borough, the Bay Ridge Boxing Gym. He is currently ranked eighth in the world by USBA, and is looking forward to passing his skills on to the next generation of Brooklyn pugilists.
"We have a lot of volunteer coaches at the Bay Ridge Boxing Gym." he said. "I like giving pointers to kids because I remember being in a gym just like them when I was eight years old."
Ali's father, Mahmoud Ali, couldn't be prouder of his son, and believes the indepependent path Sadam has taken is the right one, at least until the best possible deal becomes available.
"Sadam is promoting himself because he wants to stay busy," the senior Ali noted. "He has a good fan-base that will tune-in to watch him fight on the Oct. 27 pay per view. He won't wait around for television dates and we believe that, eventually, HBO and SHOWTIME will be interested in airing his fights."
The Barclays Center will likely want a local fighter with a swelling fan base as well. But everything in its time, as far as the Alis are concerned.