BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Zab Judah turned up the rhetoric on Thursday in advance of Saturday’s welterweight bout at Barclays Center against Paulie Malignaggi, whom he plans to retire by knockout so that Malignaggi can fully devote his time to being an announcer with Showtime.
“Now I know that we’re going to have a Brooklyn champion, which is myself, campaigning in this division, and we’ll have a Brooklyn announcer on the air,” said Judah of Malignaggi, whose rinside role will be handled on Saturday by Amir Khan.
“So, Paulie will always represent Brooklyn, so that’s going to be great. I’m waiting for [Showtime Sports boss] Stephen Espinoza to call me back so that I can have a sit-down with him to make sure that Paulie Malignaggi’s job is locked in stone, because after I knock him out, then he’ll need to be a full-time commentator and grow old doing it like [HBO's] Larry Merchant and retire like that, and there’s nothing wrong with that.”
Both Malignaggi, who turned 33 last month, and Judah, who turned 36 in October, have suffered defeat at the hands of Khan, who will call their fight alongside Brian Kenny, Al Bernstein, Mauro Ranallo and Jim Gray.
Malignaggi (32-5, 7 knockouts) lost to Khan by 11th-round knockout as a junior welterweight at New York’s Madison Square Garden in May of 2010. Judah (42-8, 29 KOs) was stopped in the fifth round by Khan as a 140-pounder at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas in July of 2011.
Malignaggi is trying to rebound from June’s split-decision WBA welterweight title loss to Adrien Broner.
Malignaggi had won the belt in April of 2012 with a ninth-round stoppage of previously unbeaten Ukrainian Vyacheslav Senchenko, who represented Malignaggi’s fifth straight victory as a welterweight during a run that had included two knockout wins.
Prior to facing Broner, Malignaggi had earned a split-decision victory over Mexico City’s Pablo Cesar Cano at Barclays Center in October of 2012.
Judah hammered previously undefeated Vernon Paris on the way to a ninth-round TKO victory in March of 2012 before rising from an eighth-round knockdown to give Danny Garcia this past April prior to losing a close unanimous decision to RING, WBA and WBC 140-pound champion at Barclays Center.
“People have said that we have a friendly rivalry, and they’re right, it’s nothing personal. But this is also not a game, because this is my life, and this is what I do. At the end of the day, this is like the old Roman days. The only thing that I can’t do is behead him, I can only knock him out. Back in the Roman days, the loser got his head cut off,” said Judah.
“But we’re not in those barbaric days, so a knockout will solidify me as the king. Whatever he wants to do, run or go toe-to-toe, I’m ready for it. On Saturday night, this is my office, but I want to keep Paulie in mind. See, I’m going to be doing great for the city by keeping him employed and helping him out. I’m 100 percent ready, and I’ve had a great training camp, and my mind and my focus is all there.”
In addition, junior middleweights Austin Trout (26-1, 14 KOs) and Erislandy Lara (18-1-2, 12 KOs) will meet in a clash of left-handers, and WBC super middleweight titleholder Sakio Bika (32-5-2, 21 KOs) will defend against Anthony Dirrell (26-0, 22 KOs).
Photo / Tom Casino-SHOWTIME
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org