Fight to the finish at Barclays
Garcia survives epic bash with Brooklyn's 'Super' Judah
Danny “Swift” Garcia remained unbeaten after successfully defending his unified lightweight titles for a third time with a unanimous decision victory over Brooklyn’s own Zab “Super” Judah on Saturday night before a vociferous crowd of more than 13,000 fight fans at Downtown’s Barclays Center.
The 25-year-old Phladelphian also learned an extremely valuable lesson during the third, and by far most exhilirating, night of championship boxing on the corners of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues: Never underestimate a tried and true warrior when he’s down.
Garcia, who dominated most of the 12-round bout, floored Judah with a vicious straight right in the eighth round, leading many in the crowd to believe the 35-year-old former five-time world champion in two weight classes was on his way to the latest in a series of unimpressive defeats to superior opponents.
But buoyed by the hometown crowd, and perhaps his own sense of ring mortality, the fighter formerly known as the “Brooklyn Flash” summoned up the energy to take it to his younger adversary, rocking Garcia in rounds 10 and 11 before the two bloodied pugilists fought valiantly to the bell in Round 12.
“Whoo! It was a hell of a fight!” Garcia exclaimed through the trickles of blood and sweat pouring off his face following the announcement that he had taken the decison by scores of 115-112, 114-112 and 116-111.
“I had to beat the Brooklyn guy in his hometown,” added Garcia, whose ever-present father and trainer, Angel, breathed a sigh of relief after his son improved to a perfect 26-0. “I knew he had a lot of pride behind him and he was never going to give up. He is a crafty veteran with power. He hit me with a good shot. He hit me in the eleventh with a left hand that spun me around. It shook me up a little bit.”
These words of praise for the elder statesman were genuine after months of trash-talking between the fighters, including a pair of nasty run-ins at the pre-fight press conference and Garcia’s appearance at the Modell’s across the street from the arena in the days leading up to the fight.
“I am a true champion and I had to fight through a storm tonight to prove that,” added Garcia, who improved to 2-0 in Downtown Brooklyn after opening the state-of-the-art arena with an impressive fourth-round knockout of Mexican boxing icon Erik “El Terrible” Morales last October. “Judah is the craftiest and strongest guy that I have fought so far. I knew he had a lot of power with the left, but I was able to stand my ground and counter it. My game plan was to try to use the jab, but he was stepping around. He was crafty and he took my jab away so I had to do what I had to do.”
In defeat, Judah, fighting with a deep gash on his left cheek, proved that he was worthy of yet another big bout, even if his chance at going down as one of boxing’s immortals continued to elude him.
“It’s boxing and things happen,” Judah said. “You win some, you lose some. Danny is a young, tough fighter. I was on my A-game tonight. I worked hard. I had a great training camp and we gave it our best shot.”
“You’re going to see me fight again,” he added defiantly. “Why would I quit?”
The Eagle scored the first round even and gave the fighters a split of rounds two and three before Garcia took command. He powered his way through fourth to ninth rounds with a series of straight and overhand rights, landing the occasional upper-cut and left hook before Judah mounted his unexpected late comeback.
After staving off Judah’s final assault, Garcia was asked whether the real blood on his face had replaced the bad blood the fighters had built up in anticipation of the fight.
“It’s gone,” Garcia admitted. “It’s respect. As you can see, it’s a lot of bad blood. I’ve got cuts. He has cuts. We came here and gave the people of Brooklyn a nice show.”
Garcia vs. Judah was preceded by another championship bout featuring New York native Peter Quillin, who successfully defended his WBO Middleweight World Championship for the first time with a seventh-round TKO of a very game, but ultimately overmatched Fernando Guerrero.
Donning a Red Sox cap on his way to the squared circle to honor the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, Quillin (29-0, 21 KOs) scored three knockdowns before his overhand right sent Guerrero sprawling to the canvas for the fourth and final time at 1:30 of Round 7.
“It’s the journey that is the most important,” Quillin said of his latest triumph. “I have to thank Fernando for coming up, but he couldn’t do it. I had to do it for New York City. I’m inspired by my team. It’s always working to try to do your best. I was working hard to do my best. I put myself through a hard training camp to try to come to this fight and try to look like superman. The sky is the limit.”
Also on Saturday night’s undercard, Brooklyn’s “Miracle Man” Danny Jacobs (25-1, 22 KOs), a cancer survivor on his way up the middleweight ranks, scored a fourth-round TKO over Kennan Collins. Brooklyn’s Luis Collazo (33-5), Boyd Melson (10-1-1) and Zachary Ochoa (4-0) also scored easy wins.
Bensonhurst native and WBA welterweight champion Paulie Malignaggi, who was on hand for Saturday night’s bouts as part of SHOWTIME’s broadcast team, announced that he would headline the fourth big boxing card at Barclays on June 22.
“The Magic Man” will take on two-division champion Adrian “The Problem” Broner in less than two months in what is being billed a matchup between two of the sport’s mouthiest fighters.
“I wanted be in a huge main event at Barclays Center,” said Malignaggi, who was in the co-feature fight in the original Barclays boxing card back in October. “This is a blockbuster event and I can’t wait to make a successful title defense in Brooklyn where my roots are.”
“Paulette better be in some shape,” jibed Broner. “On June 22, I will be a three-time world champion in three weight classes at just 23-years-old.”
As we learned in the Garcia-Judah showdown Saturday night, talk is cheap when it comes to big fights in the heart of Downtown Brooklyn.
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