Barclays Center of Attention
El Terrible’s last fight looked like it might be his swan song. His boxing IQ was as high as ever. But his boxing body no longer performs as it once did…
The newly constructed Barclays Center, the glittering Brooklyn showcase that is home to the recently transplanted New York Nets, is hosting its first boxing show Saturday night.
A quadruple header promoted by Golden Boy Promotions and broadcast by Showtime (8:00 pm ET/PT) is headlined by a rematch between WBA/WBC junior welterweight champion Danny Garcia (24-0, 15 KOs) and Erik Morales (52-8. 36 KOs). Garcia decisioned Morales in March when they first met. That fight, for which Morales failed to make weight, lost the WBC title on the scale, and was lackluster in the ring, looked like it might be El Terrible’s swan song. His boxing IQ was as high as ever. But his boxing body no longer performs as it once did.
“I’m not worried about him not making weight again,” said Garcia. “This time is different. He’s not the champion anymore, so he’s got to make the weight. I don’t think he cared much the first time. I’ve never had a rematch in my pro career, but I know what he does. I know he’s gonna come harder this time. But I think it favors me, because I’m a younger fighter and I’ve learned things. He’s gonna come harder, but you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”
“We’re totally prepared,” the old dog Morales said. “We are ready and anticipating stepping in the ring. We’re very hurt over what happened in March and we have done everything possible to be ready for this Saturday. Lots of people have seen my fights. Even though I’m not at home, I know lots of people will watch and they will see my hard work and effort in the ring. It will be an explosive and historic fight. You will see an Erik Morales who is ready.”
In the co-main event, Brooklyn’s own Paulie Malignaggi (31-4, 7 KOs) will defend his WBA welterweight title against Cesar Pablo Cano (26-1-1, 20 KOs), the gutsy kid whose only loss was to Morales in 2011.
Malignaggi had been written off by many people, among them his loquacious former promoter. But showing the heart of a true champion, he returned from the dead and stopped Vyacheleslav Senchenko in April to win the crown.
“I have worked hard,” Malignaggi said, “and I have definitely been looking forward to the opening of the Barclays Center for two years, ever since I signed with Golden Boy Promotions. It’s surreal that the time is almost here to put on the show. I have goose bumps every time I think about it.
“It’s funny when you surround yourself with positive people and you have a positive vibe around you and positive energy, so to speak, positive things happen. I haven’t always surrounded myself with the best people, at least the best people for me, and I’m not just talking about business, I’m talking on a personal level…And I think that that black cloud can follow you around in the energy you surround yourself with.
“It’s also funny when those same negative people try to squeeze their way back in the circle, and you kick them in their ass and kick them right back out.”
Cano is also looking forward to the fight, but for different reasons.
“We’ve been working very hard in the gym preparing for this,” the 23-year-old Cano said, “obviously working on strengthening and conditioning to add the additional weight, but also with the sparring, the adequate sparring and mobility and movement so we can be breaking him down round by round as the fight goes on…I respect Paulie tremendously, but I want to remind you that I am a Mexican warrior. I have a lot of talent, I have a lot of strengths, I’m very motivated, and that’s what I’m bringing to this fight.”
Also on the card, middleweight contender Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillin (27-0, 20 KOs), the Grand Rapids native who makes Brooklyn his home, takes a step up in class when he goes after his first major belt by challenging WBO middleweight champion Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam (27-0, 17 KOs).
“Hassan is going to have to really dig deep in his heart to know that he’s coming to my backyard,” Quillin said. “This is historic, not just for me but this is historic for him and also for the state of boxing and the state of Brooklyn, and the state of the U.S. Here I’m the best middleweight in the U.S. right now. Do you know what I’m saying? If he wants to be a winner, he’s got to understand that comes with a lot. Animals don’t think about who they’re going to fight against. That’s what I do. You put me in the pit. I’m in there with anybody.”
“I have great respect and I respect all of my opponents,” said the soft-spoken N’Dam, who was born in Cameroon. “I am undefeated and I will remain undefeated on October 20th. The fight is in Brooklyn and that is not a problem for me. Quillin can fight in Brooklyn in front of all of his fans and all of his friends, but when he steps into that ring he will be alone. I will win and remain undefeated and keep the title.”
And last but not least, IBF welterweight champion, Randall Bailey (43-7, 37 KOs), the hardest hitting man on boxing, defends his title for the first time against Devon Alexander (23-1, 13 KOs).
The 38-year-old Bailey resurrected his career when he starched formerly undefeated Mike Jones in June. But Alexander also turned things around by outpointing Marcos Maidana in his last fight. Theoretically, if Alexander boxes and stays out of harm’s way, he wins the fight going away.
“What they don’t understand,” Bailey explained, “is if he comes forward in the whole fight, if he moves I’m going to cut him off and we’re going to fight. It doesn’t matter how fast Devon is. He gets hit. He gets hit with right hands constantly. He better be ready. I’m ready to go to war. That’s what I come for. I’m not coming to the fight for nothing easy. Trust me. I’m going to hit him. All that boxing shit he think he going to be doing he better fight fool.”
“I’m excited to fight in Brooklyn,” said Alexander. “I was ready four weeks ago, but I’m definitely ready now. I’m versatile. I adjust to my opponent and so whatever Randall Bailey’s going to do I’m going to adjust to that. I can either box or I come forward and that’s what Randall Bailey’s not getting in his head. I’m jammed. I’m pumped up. I’m sure Randall Bailey’s going to come to fight. I’m ready.”