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Paulie to defend Brooklyn Belt at Barclays

Bensonhurst’s Malignaggi to take on Sunset Park’s Bracero on June 30

July 21, 2016 By John Torenli, Sports Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Former two-division world champion Paulie Malignaggi will defend his coveted Brooklyn World Championship belt next weekend at Downtown’s Barclays Center against Sunset Park native Gabriel Bracero. Photo courtesy of SHOWTIME
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It will be Saturday Night Fever at Downtown’s Barclays Center next weekend, when Bensonhurst native and former two-division world champion Paulie “The Magic Man” Malignaggi defends his Brooklyn World Championship Belt against Sunset Park’s Gabriel Bracero in a 10-round welterweight bout.

As the reigning “King of Brooklyn”, Malignaggi (35-7, 7 KOs) is eager to prove he remains our borough’s best by holding on to the mythical title he won back on Pearl Harbor Day 2013 against fellow Brooklynite and five-time world champion Zab Judah.

The 35-year-old Malignaggi, who has been fighting professionally since scoring a technical knockout of Thadeus Parker at Coney Island’s MCU Park, back when it was still called KeySpan, in the summer of 2001, is 2-2 in the ring since outpointing Judah over 12 tough rounds on the corners of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues.

He suffered consecutive losses to Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia before scoring victories over lesser-known brawlers Laszlo Fazekas and Antonio Mascatiello, both in 2015.

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But this coming fight, which will precede next Saturday night’s SHOWTIME-televised headliner for the world featherweight title between Leo Santa Cruz and rising Irish star Carl Frampton, holds special meaning for Malignaggi, who has emerged as one of the cable network’s top ring analysts, but can’t quite seem to give up lacing them up when presented with a challenge. 

“Representing Brooklyn with this belt has been something I’m very proud of,” said Malignaggi, who will take center stage at our borough’s home for boxing for the fifth time since the state-of-the-art arena began hosting bouts in 2012.

“I relish the competitive spirit of being able to defend it against another quality Brooklyn fighter like Gabriel Bracero. I fight for Brooklyn and I represent Brooklyn with everything I’ve got each time I step into the ring and on July 30 it will be no different.”

Bracero (24-2, 5 KOs), who is also 35, offered similar sentiments regarding the Brooklyn belt, which was a creation of Barclays CEO Brett Yormark.

“This fight is going to have two Brooklynites, finally meeting inside the ring, in a really exciting matchup,” said Bracero. “What better way to highlight that, then having the Brooklyn’s World Championship Belt on the line.

“Growing up in Brooklyn is what has made me the man and the fighter that I am today,” added Bracero, who coming off a knockout win over Boston-based welterweight Danny O’Connor last October. “I respect Paulie for giving me this opportunity, for putting his belt on the line and everything he’s done in his career. On July 30 though, that belt is coming home with me. I will be the new champion of Brooklyn.” 

Tickets for the live event, which is promoted by DiBella Entertainment in association with Cyclone Promotions and presented by Premier Boxing Champions, start at $38 and can be purchased online by visiting or by calling 1-800-745-3000. Tickets are also available at the American Express Box Office at Barclays Center. Group discounts are available by calling 844-BKLYN-GP. 

“There’s nothing more fitting than two Brooklyn fighters, Paulie, of Bensonhurst, and Gabriel, of Sunset Park, standing toe-to-toe in the ring at Barclays Center,” said Yormark.

“Paulie holds the title of Brooklyn’s World Champion. On July 30, his belt is on the line. Who’s going to take it?”

We’ll all find out next weekend.

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