Call it Philly versus New York or New York versus Philly. It's a storied history between the two cities less than a mere 100 miles apart. It's the Giants vs. Eagles…Flyers vs. Rangers…and Yankees/Mets vs. Phillies. In fact Philly's favorite adopted son “Smokin” Joe Frazier considered Madison Square Garden home. Most don't know that Joe actually resided in New York before he settled in Philadelphia.
This weekend at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn New York the rivalry gets renewed via welterweight fighters Danny Garcia 30-0 (17) of Philadelphia versus Paulie Malinaggi 33-6 (7) of New York. Add to that both Garcia and Malinaggi are tough and never mince their words and often border on being cocky. The only negative pertaining to the fight is one of them, Garcia, 27, is on the ascend and the other, Malinaggi, 34, is on the decline. However, the contrast in styles should make for an interesting fight for as long as it last. Garcia will no doubt assume the role as the attacker while looking to force Malinaggi to engage with him. That is a stark contrast to how Malinaggi will be looking to box and Garcia's feet moving and turning.
Both Garcia and Malinaggi are first class pros and no doubt respect each other. Garcia hasn't looked good in two of his last three outings and Malinaggi was beaten up and stopped in his last bout 17 months ago against Shawn Porter. As to why Garcia wasn't impressive in his last three bouts versus Mauricio Herrera, Rod Salka and Lamont Peterson, Danny blames having to get down to close 140. He said his strength and ability to cut off the ring was compromised. In this fight both Garcia and Malinaggi will have the luxury of coming in at 147.
“147 is a new chapter in my boxing career,” Garcia said about becoming a welterweight. “I feel like I did everything I could do at 140. (Moving up) feels great because I feel my style matches up great with anybody at 147. I’m ready, but first I have to handle Paulie Malignaggi. I know he’s coming. It’s Brooklyn, his hometown. He’s got something to prove. This is a big fight for him. He’s got to go in there and look good. So, I prepared myself 110%, and I got to go in there and show my Brooklyn fans and my Philly fans, and all my fans around the world, who’s a better fighter that night.”
And for Garcia, his ability to cut off the ring will be monumental because Paulie has pretty good wheels, or at least he used to. Back in March of 2014 Garcia fought Mauricio Herrera who was an awkward mover, and Danny was clearly befuddled by that and never really solved Herrera's style. Granted, at this time Herrera is probably more dangerous than Malinaggi. However, Malinaggi, even though he doesn't get credit for it…..is without a doubt one of the best thinking minds in professional boxing. Paulie no doubt knows what he needs to do against Garcia, the question is, does he have the physicality to do it or is he too shopworn, especially after the going over he absorbed against Shawn Porter.
Garcia clearly has thoughts on what to expect from Malinaggi:
“I have a pretty good idea of what he’s going to go in there and try to do,” Garcia said. “I think he has a good jab. I think that’s his best game, and I’m pretty sure he’s going to try to utilize it. I prepare for whatever. I’m going to go in there and get off first. I’m going to set the pace. I’m going to go in there and pop my jab at him. So, we’re going to see who got the better jab that night.”
That's sounds about right. It's the typical fighter versus boxer contrast. Garcia is younger and more of a live wire. In addition to that, Danny is so tough and determined. If he really was weakened by getting down to the junior welterweight limit, and there is every reason to believe he was, then he should be energetic and strong Saturday night against Malinaggi. And if he is, it'll be a tough night for Malinaggi. Because Danny is so tough and durable, it's hard to envision, because of his lack of fight altering power, that Paulie can make Danny do anything he wants or needs him to do in order to dictate the fight. Add to that Malinaggi is on the decline and Garcia is looking to re-boot his career that plateaued during the last year and a half, it's really hard to find a path to victory concerning Malinaggi.
Let’s be honest, Garcia is the A-side and Malinaggi is the opponent, and Paulie knows it. This is something that will make him dangerous because we know Paulie likes to rock the boat and throw a monkey wrench into the establishments best laid plans.
“This is what the networks wanted,” Garcia said. “This is what my manager wanted, and this is how we been doing it my whole career. Give me a name. I never go against the grain. I believe in destiny. I believe that’s what it’s supposed to be. And if you ask me, the fight makes complete sense. He’s from Brooklyn, I’m from Philly. You’ve got the Italian fans, the Puerto Rican fans, the Philadelphia fans, all the fans on the East Coast. He’s a former 147-pound champion and I believe it’s a great fight.”
It should be an interesting fight for all the reasons stated by Garcia. You have the New York vs. Philly dynamic, fighter versus boxer and what amounts to a crossroads fight for both. It should be a good go for however long it last because both guys know what's riding on the outcome.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com