Former five time champion Zab Judah and two time ex champ Paul Malignaggi took part in a Tuesday conference call to hype their Dec. 7 clash at Barclays Center. Those expecting a trash talk bonanza were five years too late, alas, as both men came off as seasoned pros, doing their jobs with focus and discipline.
Judah, the Brownsville native who now lives in Vegas, said camp has been great and he looks forward to coming back and being crowned “the king of BK.” Judah said the concept of the fight only became a possibility after his last fight, against Danny Garcia. He initially dismissed it, because “Paulie is my homie.” He was asked about a time when he coached Paulie when he was fighting amateur, and said he was impressed with the kid then.
Malignaggi, called “the best color commentator in the sport,” for his work with Showtime, by promoter Richard Schaefer, said that his camp has also been stellar. He’d like to see a record crowd at the arena, and he touted the “great supporting cast” on the card. Paulie said that Zab was a guy to look up to, and crossing paths didn’t come to mind till recently, because they were in different weight classes and were at different junctures of their career. He heard rumbling the last year or two, and it became reality with both coming off losses, and with Judah signing with Golden Boy after his April loss to Garcia.
The two were asked about the lack of trash talk, and if it is harder to get motivated because of that. No, Judah said, he is motivated by the opportunity, by the possibly being called the king of the borough. Malignaggi said that the competition is what drives all of them. “The competition is always the driving force,” he said. “Winning means everything to me…it’s not hard to get up for a fight like this.”
Paulie said losing in front of so many locals would make it that much more difficult to deal with. Zab didn’t really take on the query about the possibility of losing at home.
Both men were asked when they were at their peak. Judah said when he was 15-0, and fought Micky Ward (in 1998). “We had a dog camp and when we won the fight,” he said. “I was very sharp.” But he didn’t want to choose one time period, noting that he felt good during his last outing. Malignaggi said in 2003-2004 he felt he was coming into his own, and his hands felt good. Then his progress was hindered by hand injuries, he said, and he does wonder how good he might have been if not for the busted hand.
Zab said he admires Paulie standing up for Brooklyn pride, and he respects him as a fighter, because he respects all fighters. Paulie said he most admires Zab because he saw him doing it, exceling, and he looked up to him as a role model.
Malignaggi said he isn’t thinking that this one could be the last fight, that yes, he thinks about leaving before camp, maybe, but once he enters a fight, he is all in.
Judah declared that he doesn’t think of himself as old, and that Mayweather is older than him, as are Juan Manuel Marquez and Bernard Hopkins. He is, in his mind, the best ever to put on a pair of gloves, right here and now. Yes, it seems he doesn’t entertain the notion that he’s slipped at all. “I am the best pound for pound fighter in the world,” he said. Anyone wanting to test that notion is welcome to, he said. (Hint Floyd Mayweather hint.)
Paulie said you have to have a short memory in boxing, and have to put wins and losses behind you, and put your focus on today.
To sum up: both men feel they are still world class, aren’t giving the appearance of hanging on just to get paid, are promising a solid scrap in BK…and neither it seems will give trash talk fanatics a taste!
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