Brooklyn is the epicenter of skateboards, radical bicycle modification, off-beat motorcycle clubs, every cuisine on Earth and all variations thereof. It’s the locus for international dance and performance art, has six times as many yoga studios as Subway franchises, and more tattoo parlors than plumbers. And now it has big-time professional boxing.
Can boxing make it in Brooklyn? Can it do it half a block from the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the antithesis of boxing if ever there was? It had better. To mangle an old saw, if you can’t make it here, you can’t make it anywhere. The brand new Barclays Center is counting on making it, as the $1 billion venue will be the venue for both for NBA hoops (The Brooklyn Nets) and top-tier boxing, under the aegis of Golden Boy Promotions and Barclays developer/Nets co-owner Bruce Ratner. Sure, the massive venue, which looks a bit that hovering spaceship from Sector 9 crash-landed on Flatbush, will open its pod-bay doors next month to a Roman circus of Jay-Z and friends. It’s hoping for as much noise with the big Oct. 20 bout, something of a three ring circus itself — three title fights and a huge undercard featuring Brooklyn pro boxers with a shitload of personality and back story.
By the way, the last time pro boxing was in the County of Kings was around 1927, or so I was informed by an especially learned-looking reporter a row behind me at the Thursday morning press conference for the first boxing card, on Oct. 20. But like Jay-Z’s launch partay for Barclay, it will be a really big show with not one, or two, but three title fights and a mess of Brooklyn fighters with a shitload of personality and back story.What was clear as a bottle of Absolut Brooklyn is that this is going to be big fun, as the press conference itself was hugely entertaining without a whiff of vituperative because Brooklyn is on the card, too, yo.
Golden Boy boss Oscar De La Hoya was himself, meaning we got priceless lines like, “We are extremely, extremely, extremely, (and yes a fourth) extremely thrilled to be here,” and “when [Paulie Malignaggi] was down in Europe…” I am going to use that one from now on, since I’ve got friends down in Europe.
The tripartite headline has a junior welterweight weight redux between Danny Garcia and Eric Morales; a welterweight title bout with Paulie Malignaggi against Pablo Cesar Cano; and Peter Quillin vs. Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam in a middleweight bout.
But the real headline is Brooklyn, as the card includes Brooklyn boys Luis Collazo, Danny Jacobs, West Point charisma king Boyd Melson, former world title contender Dimitry Salito, and of course the Paulie — who was wearing more diamonds than 45th Street — and Quillin, a nuevo Brooklynite, who said, “I’ve been here for four years and all of the money I make doesn’t equal being here and fighting in Brooklyn. I can’t pronounce my opponent’s name but I can say ‘WBO title.'”
Jacobs fought back tears as he spoke about his bout with cancer, and how he’s just happy to be back: “To be in the first big fight in Brooklyn for over 80 years, the first fight at Barclays — nobody can take that away from me, even if I never fight again.”
That set the tone for everyone who spoke. All of the fighters including headliner Garcia, said it was as much about Brooklyn as their particular bouts.
That set the tone for everyone who spoke. All of the fighters, including headliner Garcia, said it was as much about Brooklyn as their particular bouts. You know there are good feelings when even Angel Garcia, Danny’s bombastic father and trainer, tones down the hyperbole just a tad. After giving a theatrical demonstration of Danny’s 4th round TKO of Amir Khan in July, he gave props to Jacobs. Also a cancer survivor, Garcia said “I had cancer, I had tubes in my stomach. People were asking my wife if she had prepared my funeral.”
Really, though, it was the most entertaining press conference I’ve attended, in a long time, and maybe that’s just because there’s a certain “fuggedabout it” vibe when you cross the bridge. We had Rolando Arellano, Cano’s manager, saying to Malignaggi, “I love you and respect you but we’re going to get that ass, Paulie!” and “I’m originally from Bed-Stuy, so there’s going to be a big bang [on fight night]. So let’s get this shit going.”