By Jackie Kallen
This is the season to celebrate and there are holiday parties every weekend. I usually DVR the fights and head out to a good party. But tonight I am planning to be sitting right in front of my TV when the Showtime fights start. The fights are just too good not to watch them live.
I would love to be sitting ringside at the Barclays Center when native sons Paul Malignaggi and Zab Judah face off. Neither man is a young pup. Paul is 33 and Zab is 36. They have both been around the block a few times. Paul has been stopped twice and Zab has been stopped three times. They have a total of 89 fights between them.
Paul just went the distance with Adrien Broner in June. He didn’t win, but it was a close fight. Zab is also coming off a loss. He went the distance with Danny Garcia in April and fell short. Both men have a lot to prove tonight.
A few years ago, in 2010, I was impressed when Zab Judah pulled off a win over hard-hitting Lucas Matthysse. He was knocked down in the 10th round and still managed to win a close decision. But is he still the same man today? Or have the past three years (and four fights–two of them losses) taken their toll?
As for Malignaggi, he has developed into a really credible TV analyst and sportscaster. His commentaries at ringside are astute and have garnered him many new fans. He will always have that career to fall back on. But tonight’s fight is about street cred. Both men are from Brooklyn and both men will have huge pockets of supporters in the house.
It will not surprise me if this one grinds the whole 12 rounds. I see the fight going back and forth, with Malignaggi winning a close decision and walking out with the NABF Welterweight belt.
The fun doesn’t stop with this fight, though. The whole card is exciting. I am especially curious to see how Flint’s Anthony Dirrell will do against Australia’s Sakio Bika for the WBC super middleweight belt. At 26-0 with 22 KOs, Dirrell is finally getting a much-deserved title shot.
Bika is a solid test for Dirrell. He has never been stopped in a fight and he has gone the distance with guys like Andre Ward and Lucian Bute. His 32-5-2 record is more than respectable and he has stopped over half the men he has faced. But I think he is biting off more than he can chew with Dirrell. I am not necessarily expecting Dirrell to be the first man to stop Bika, but I am hoping he will get the win.
Another good clash will be the IBF Welterweight battle between 25-1 champ Devon Alexander and 22-0-1 challenger Shawn Porter. I have watched Shawn improve and progress and I believe this is a big step for him. Whether or not he is ready for a warrior like Alexander remains to be seen. Alexander’s only loss was against Timothy Bradley in 2011. Since then, the southpaw has beaten four men (including Matthysse).
Porter has been honing his skills against guys like Julio Diaz and Alfonso Gomez. Devon Alexander is on a different level altogether. Porter will have to dig deep and pull out all the stops if he plans to walk out as the winner. It’s not impossible, and I believe it is within his power to do it. But he is in deep water here.
Adding to the drama tonight is the potential war between Austin Trout and Cuban Erislandy Lara for the vacant WBA Junior middleweight title. Both men have only one loss, both are southpaws, neither has ever been stopped, and both have comparable power. Lara lost to Paul Williams and Trout lost to Canelo. Both have beaten respectable names. Lara fought to a draw with Martirosyan and beat Angulo. Trout beat Delvin Rodriguez and Miguel Cotto.
I like Austin Trout a lot, but I think he’s got his hands full tonight. My gut tells me Lara will win.