On Saturday night from the Barclays Center, live on Showtime, two veterans who have been around the block more than a couple of times will go head-to-head in a hometown showdown, as Brooklynites Paulie Malignaggi and Zab Judah square off in a 12-round welterweight main event.
Both men have held world titles at 140 and 147 pounds in their careers, but there will be no belt on the line this Saturday. This fight, as they've said before, is about pride, bragging rights, and being "King of Brooklyn" in the boxing world.
The atmosphere is expected to be rowdy, with a good turnout of supporters for both men, and Malignaggi believes that when all is said and done, it will be just like a world title fight, only without a belt.
"It's exciting every time you're part of a big promotion, it's not a world championship fight, but it still has that feel and that vibe. On Saturday night it will feel like it's a championship fight in Barclays Center," he said on Tuesday at a media workout.
Malignaggi (32-5, 7 KO) lost his WBA welterweight title in June of this year when he was narrowly defeated by rising star Adrien Broner in Brooklyn. Now 33, the "Magic Man" has had a career that couldn't have really been expected some years ago, when it appeared his balky hands could have cut his career short, robbing him of whatever power he did have.
He's gotten by on craft, ring IQ, and pure ability and dedication, winning world titles and losing only to top-level names like Miguel Cotto, Ricky Hatton, Amir Khan, Broner, and Juan Diaz (controversially, and avenged in a rematch).
The 36-year-old Judah (42-8, 29 KO) also lost his last fight, but did so in a manner that was unusual for him, as he held his ground against a younger, seemingly stronger fighter in Danny Garcia, coming off the canvas to make it more than a competitive fight down the stretch.
Malignaggi expects that version of Judah on Saturday.
"I expect the best Zab Judah. A Zab Judah who is going to be fighting for his boxing career. I feel the same way," Malignaggi said.
"If we saw each other in the gym, we would try to knock each other out. There's no love taps. With this much on the line you can bet we're both going to have it out on Saturday," he added.
With a clear future in boxing broadcasting, as Malignaggi has earned praise working for Showtime Sports, the end of both careers may not be far off. But while Judah and Malignaggi are meeting in a veteran clash, don't forget that these two members of the old guard recently pushed two of boxing's hottest young, undefeated fighters, and motivation will be no problem, according to Paulie.
"We're both motivated to win, but when you're at this level anything can get you motivated for a fight like this," said Malignaggi. "If you're not motivated for this, you better check your pulse to make sure you're alive."
If he wins the fight, Malignaggi says he's got his sights set on the winner of the December 14 Showtime main event between Broner and Marcos Maidana. And as for the holiday season, he's already got a present in mind.
"A win over Zab Judah is what I want for Christmas. That suffices."