‘Golden Boys’: Brooklyn boxers ready to star on Barclays stage
With a throng of media members and fight enthusiasts gathered inside a conference room at the Brooklyn Bridge Marriott Thursday morning to officially welcome championship boxing back to our fair borough for the first time in over 80 years, it wasn’t Oscar “Golden Boy” De la Hoya, undefeated super lightweight champion Danny “Swift” Garcia or even the ever-loquacious Bensonhurst native, Paulie “The Magic Man” Malignaggi, who best exemplified the spirit of the historic Oct. 20 fight card at the Barclays Center.
Instead, it was a 25-year-old Brooklynite who had to beat cancer for his shot at performing inside the squared circle within the friendly confines of the nearly complete 18,300-seat state-of-the-art-arena on the corners of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues.
“I am so excited to return to the ring after all I have been through this past year,” said an emotional Daniel “The Golden Child” Jacobs upon taking the microphone from De la Hoya. “To be able to return in front of my family and friends in Brooklyn means the world to me.”
Jacobs was an up-and-coming title contender in the middleweight ranks when he was diagnosed with cancer in 2011. After undergoing surgery and a vigorous rehab program, the Erasmus High School graduate and Brownsville native had to fight back tears to express his joy at having overcome his deadliest opponent outside the ring while relishing the opportunity to continue his quest for a world title inside it in less than seven weeks.
“It’s a slow road to recovery, and I am just grateful to be alive and well enough to have the opportunity to continue my professional boxing career on October 20,” added Jacobs, who has not yet found an opponent for one of several locally flavored bouts on the undercard of the SHOWTIME-televised card. “I am looking forward to it immensely.”
Jacobs is one of six Brooklyn boxers who will lace them up before Philadelphia’s Garcia enters the ring against Mexican boxing icon Erik Morales in the first big-time title fight in our borough since light heavyweight belt-holder Maxie Rosenbloom outpointed Jimmy Slattery in a 15-rounder at Ebbets Field on Aug. 5, 1931.
That’s actually over 81 years now, if you’re counting.
“I will be ready to fight Paulie Malignaggi on October 20, even in his own backyard,” said the 22-year-old Mexican, who is nearly a decade younger than Malignaggi. “The opportunity to fight for a wild title is something I have wanted my whole life. I am the younger, stronger fighter, and I will do everything I can in training to be victorious that night.”
Another prospective Malignaggi ring foe, Brooklyn’s “Star of David” Dmitriy Salita, spent his turn at the mic trying to lure his Italian-American rival into a future bout.
Malignaggi-Salita was the early favorite to grab the main event for the inaugural boxing event at Barclays, but De la Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions team went instead with the more internationally recognized fighters in Garcia and Morales.
Salita, who will fight on the undercard against an as yet unnamed opponent, couldn’t help taking his shot at “The Magic Man.”
“I hope in the future me and Paulie can fight at the Barclays for his world title because I really want to take it from him,” said the 30-year-old practicing Orthodox Jew.
“Anybody else want to call me out?” Malignaggi wondered aloud before addressing the significance of defending his title just a hop, skip and a jump away from the place of his birth, Long Island College Hospital.
“This is really a dream come true for me and I am confident I will make my fans proud and come away with a win,” the 31-year-old two-time world champ insisted. “Anyone that knows me knows my Brooklyn roots make me the fighter that I am and that I have been throughout my career. I don’t ever give up. Ever! That’s Brooklyn, baby!”
Also scheduled to represent our borough on that night are former world welterweight champion Luis Collazo, who has never lost any of the 17 fights he’s had in New York, undefeated WBO middleweight contender Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillin, and budding prospect and West Point graduate Boyd “Rainmaker” Melson.
As De la Hoya put it, Brooklyn will definitely be in the house come Oct. 20.
“This is going to be a tremendous night of boxing for Barclays Center, Golden Boy Promotions and all of the boxing and sports fans in the New York area,” said the winner of 10 world championships in six different weight classes. “To be a part of a historic night of championship boxing returning to Brooklyn with the rematch of Danny Garcia against Erik Morales, coupled with the opportunity to see some of New York’s best fighters such as Paulie Malignaggi and Peter Quillin, is a can’t-miss moment.”
Tickets for the historic card are on sale now for those who want to say they saw the return of championship boxing to Brooklyn in person.