Brooklyn Boro

Paulie dominates Zab for Brooklyn title

Malignaggi earns unanimous decision victory over Judah at Barclays

December 10, 2013 By John Torenli, Sports Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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It took three tries but Paulie Malignaggi finally had his crowning achievement at Barclays Center.

And it might not be his last.

The Bensonhurst native schooled the fighter he viewed as a mentor Saturday night before a crowd of 9,363 at the Downtown arena, scoring a unanimous decision over Brownsville’s Zab Judah to earn the mythical Brooklyn championship belt as well as the NABF welterweight crown.

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After scoring a less-than-impressive split-decision win over Pablo Cesar Cano during the opening night of championship boxing here on Oct. 20, 2012, Malignaggi was beaten by Adrien Broner on his home turf back in June.

That result left him wanting, or perhaps even needing, a strong showing against Judah, a five-time world champion in two weight classes, Saturday night in order to justify continuing his career in the ring just two weeks after his 33rd birthday.

To his credit, Malignaggi came out roaring from the opening bell, consistently out-foxing, out-boxing and, in a surprise to many ringside observers, out-muscling, his 36-year-old opponent.

Judah, who looked disinterested at times and outright sluggish throughout the 12-round affair, did manage a controversial second-round knockdown when Malignaggi found himself off-balance after spinning to get out of range.

Malignaggi described the knockdown as “bulls**t”, and argued to no avail that it should be ruled a slip.

His momentary fall to the canvas hardly mattered, however, as the former two-time world champ dominated the action thereafter, winning each of the final 10 rounds, according to the Eagle’s unofficial scorecard.

When the final bell rang, Malignaggi raised his fists in triumph, relieved that he had conquered not only Judah, but the perception that he might be done as a big-time fighter and was now better suited to handling his duties as a ringside analyst for SHOWTIME, which televised the bout.

“This is an emotional win for me,” admitted Malignaggi after improving to 33-5. “It definitely allows me to continue boxing. If I had lost, I don’t know that I would have wanted to continue. But this big win puts me in the right spot to fight in this division for lots of money…lots.”

Malignaggi wants another shot at Broner, who will defend his unbeaten record against Marcos Maidana in San Antonio this weekend.

Even if that rematch doesn’t come to pass, “The Magic Man” will more than likely be right back here headlining another card, possibly as soon as next spring.

As for Judah, the future is clouded at best.

The surefire Hall of Famer showed little to no resistance against the busier Malignaggi and even resorted to rough-house tactics as the fight came to a finish, causing both entourages to spill out into the center of the ring.

Cooler heads soon prevailed, and the two pugilists finally embraced in a show of respect after spending the weeks leading up to the fight singing each other’s praises rather than trash-talking.

Barclays CEO Brett Yormark draped the specially designed Brooklyn Championship belt around Malignaggi’s shoulder as Judah tried in vain to explain his sub-par performance on a night many predicted he’d revitalize his own career.

“I came to fight and so did Paulie. It just wasn’t there,” Judah conceded. “This was a great opportunity and a great event. I wanted to be the King of Brooklyn.  He wasn’t tougher than me. He stayed on the outside and didn’t engage.”

Tougher or not, Malignaggi dropped Judah to 42-9 and left him winless in consecutive bouts.

“Walking to the ring was pretty surreal,” Malignaggi noted. “As a teenager I watched Zab fight and to walk into the ring and fighting against him was very surreal.

“Not that I never expected myself not to be successful,” he added. “But it was still something very surreal. I felt like this showed that this sport can unify everyone. I looked up to this guy when I was coming up in the sport and he’s one of the greats.”

Malignaggi wasn’t the only Brooklynite to score a big win in the ring Saturday night.

Borough native Sadam “World Kid” Ali improved to 18-0 with 11 knockouts after stopping Jesus Selig in the seventh round of their scheduled welterweight 10-rounder during the evening’s early preliminaries.

Ali, who struggled to earn a unanimous decision in his Golden Boy debut at Barclays on Sept. 30, was certainly more pleased with his effort this time around as he punished Selig after dictating the pace in the early rounds.

“I think the referee saw what was going to happen eventually,” Ali said. “Everything was landing. … I like to entertain the crowd so I really wish they wouldn’t have stopped it so fast. I still felt a little rusty, but I know that as I go, I am going to just keep getting better and better.”

Staten Island light-heavyweight Marcus Browne improved to 8-0 with seven knockouts in his record sixth Barclays appearance, taking out Kevin Engel with an opening-round TKO.

Browne, who like Ali is a former U.S. Olympian, bounced back from a tough eight-round decision here in September, when he was roughed up a bit by the unorthodox Lamont Williams.

“I was more relaxed. I understand the game more,” Browne said. “Going the distance [in my last fight] showed me showed me how to be patient. … I could fight again tomorrow if I wanted to.”

Brooklyn’s Juan Dominguez (16-0, 12 KOs) won an eight-round unanimous decision over fellow featherweight Camilo Perez in the night’s opening fight.

“It is great fighting in Barclays Center,” Dominguez said. “This is a special night. A whole night of world title fights that no one will forget.”

In the co-feature bouts, Cleveland’s Shawn Porter upset St. Louis’ Devon Alexander to take the IBF welterweight title. Also, Erislandy Lara held on to the WBA interim super welterweight crown by dominating Austin Trout and Sakio Bika of Sydney, Australia retained his WBC super middleweight crown after fighting to a draw with Michigan’s Anthony Dirrell.

Ring Notes: Golden Boy Promotions announced its next boxing card on Saturday. “Vicious” Victor Ortiz will headline the Thursday Night feature against Brooklyn’s-own Luis Collazo on Jan. 30 for the WBA International Welterweight Championship. … Direll, who entered the ring with a perfect 26-0 record Saturday night, was so angered by the decision that he stormed out of the ring without speaking to SHOWTIME’s Jim Gray. Fortunately, Gray was able to catch up with Dirrell in his locker room. “I want to apologize to the fans for leaving the ring like that but I was just disappointed,” said Dirrell. “He hit low and head-butted. I definitely want a rematch.” … Also on Saturday, Philadelphia’s Julian Williams boosted his record to 14-0-1 with a unanimous decision victory over ring veteran Orlando Lora in an eight-round super welterweight bout.

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