Barclays Center fights will go on without Paulie Malignaggi
Malignaggi Drops Out of Barclays Card Due to Training Injury
This was the unkindest cut of all.
Especially to Brooklyn boxing fans.
Bensonhurst native Paulie Malignaggi’s much-anticipated return to the ring Friday night at Downtown’s Barclays Center won’t go off as planned.
The former two-division world champion, 11 months removed from suffering a devastating knockout loss to Shawn Porter, suffered a deep cut during training for his scheduled bout with Danny O’Connor last week.
The 34-year-old Malignaggi had to drop out of what would have been his fourth, and perhaps final, appearance at our borough’s new home for professional boxing, doubtlessly disappointing local fight fans who always show up en masse to show their support for the hometown pugilist.
Malignaggi, already established as one of the top television boxing analysts in the sport, would have been the co-feature to the headline bout between Chris Algieri and Amir Khan Friday night.
Instead, Brooklynites will have to settle for a fight between Bryan Vasquez (34-1, 18 KOs) and Javier Fortuna (27-0-1, 20 KOs) for a vacated junior lightweight title on the Premier Boxing Champions card, which will be televised nationally on Spike TV.
“This is not a bad alternative under the circumstances,” fight promoter Lou DiBella insisted. “Fortuna and Vasquez should be a very competitive fight.”
Though DiBella might be right, the allure of a Malignaggi bout, whether you happen to be for or against the loquacious and always-entertaining boxer, is now gone from the 12th fight card in Barclays Center history.
Malignaggi’s absence from the slate will now up the ante on the headline feature, and both Algieri and Khan were in attendance at the state-of-the-art arena this week to boost business for their fight.
“I feel very comfortable being here in New York and I’m happy to be back at Barclays Center,” noted Algieri, a Long Island native who made a name for himself in this very arena when he earned a controversial split-decision victory over fellow welterweight Ruslan Provodnikov here last June.
Algieri improved to a perfect 20-0 that night, but dropped a unanimous decision to Manny Pacquiao in Macau, China just five months later.
He’s hoping this bout against Khan, a two-time world champion and silver-medalist at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, will restore not only his own reputation as a world-class boxer, but perhaps some of his own confidence.
“The only thing that matters is proving something to myself and I do feel like I have to prove something,” Algieri admitted. “I wasn’t happy with my last performance at all. I know I belong here at the elite level and it’s time for me to prove it.
“I like to challenge myself and this is a great opportunity,” he added. “I’m ready for this, I will challenge anybody in the welterweight division.”
Khan (30-3, 19 KOs), long mentioned as a possible opponent for Floyd Mayweather, perhaps as soon as this coming Labor Day Weekend, has won his last four bouts since a TKO defeat to Barclays’ unofficial house fighter, Danny Garcia of Philadelphia, back in 2012.
The native Brit, who beat Malignaggi at Madison Square Garden five long years ago, must tame Algieri if he hopes to win a date as the undefeated Mayweather’s 49th opponent later this year.
“I’ve always wanted to fight here at Barclays Center and I really am excited to put on a great performance for all the New Yorkers,” Khan said. “Algieri has been in the ring with big names before so we know that’s not going to scare him and he won’t get nervous. I’m going to be ready for anything he brings to the table.
“This is going to be an entertaining fight because of our styles,” he added. “We both like to throw a lot of punches and there will be a lot of movement. This will be a more skillful fight and I think the fans will enjoy what they see.”
They may, if fact, enjoy another night of big-time pro boxing in Brooklyn, but it won’t be quite the same without Paulie.
Read next week’s Eagle sports pages or log on to www.brooklyneagle.com for a recap of Friday night’s fights.
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