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Brooklyn boxing back in a big way

WBA Welterweight Champion Paulie Malignaggi, who calls Brooklyn

WBA Welterweight Champion Paulie Malignaggi, who calls Brooklyn his home, got a tour of the Barclays Center by Barclays CEO Brett Yormark. (June 1, 2012) Credit: Steven Sunshine

You want to talk boxing in Brooklyn? Consider this: On June 19, 1947, Coney Island's Herbie Kronowitz beat Brownsville's Harold Green at Ebbets Field, for the middleweight title of Brooklyn.

It doesn't get more Brooklyn than that.

That fight, between two top 10 contenders, is just a small slice of Brooklyn's rich boxing past. Now, Golden Boy Promotions and The Barclays Center are writing a new chapter for the borough's history books.

The borough that gave boxing Floyd Patterson, Mike Tyson, Riddick Bowe, Mark Breland, Junior Jones, Zab Judah and Bummy Davis, will now play host to a monthly series of cards promoted by Oscar De La Hoya's Golden Boy. It all kicks off on October 20 with a four-title fight card at the Barclays Center. The card will be televised by Showtime.

“This fight is going to be a tremendous night of boxing for Barclays Center, Golden Boy Promotions and all of the boxing and sports fans in and around the New York area,” said De La Hoya. “To be a part of a historic night of championship boxing returning to Brooklyn with the rematch of Danny Garcia against Erik Morales, coupled with the opportunity to see some of New York’s best fighters such as Paulie Malignaggi and Peter Quillin is a can’t miss moment.”

The four title fights are: Hassan N'Dam N'Jikam vs. Peter Quillin (WBO middleweight), Danny Garcia vs. Erik Morales (WBA-WBC junior welterweight), Devon Alexander vs. Randall Bailey (IBF welterweight), and Brooklyn's own Paulie Malginaggi defending his WBA welterweight crown against Pablo Cano.

Malignaggi and Quillin join Danny Jacobs and former world champ Luis Collazzo as the other Brooklyn fighters on the card.

“When I found out about the fights at the Barclays Center, I wanted nothing more than to be on this card,” said Malignaggi. “This is really a dream come true for me and I am confident I will make my fans proud and come away with a win. Anyone that knows me knows that my Brooklyn roots make me the fighter that I am and that I have been throughout my career. I don’t give up ever. That’s Brooklyn baby.”

It's being widely reported that the last title fight in Brooklyn took place on August 5, 1931 when defending Light Heavyweight World Champion Maxie Rosenbloom outpointed Jimmy Slattery over 15 rounds at Ebbets Field.

"It's difficult to believe that it's been 81 years since there's been a world title fight in Brooklyn, but four title fights on one card is a helluva way to compensate," said Showtime boxing analyst Steve Farhood. "The October 20 card was strong, but got a lot stronger when Randall Bailey-Devon Alexander was added. Bailey is, simply put, the hardest one-punch hitter in boxing. Whether he can catch Alexander or not is another issue. The Barclays Center is going to be rocking on October 20. History will be made, with the right fighters and the right fans in the right place at the right time."

There was a time when boxing was commonplace in Brooklyn. Venues like the Coney Island Velodrome, the Broadway Arena and Ridgewood Grove held fights on a regular basis. And, of course, the world's famous Gleason's Gym is located in downtown Brooklyn. But boxing on a large scale in the city's largest borough has been somewhat scarce.

In 1989, future heavyweight champ Riddick Bowe fought his seventh pro fight at Gleason's Arena. And in 2001, Lou DiBella promoted an HBO card at what was then known as KeySpan Park, the home of the minor league Brookyln Cyclones. Malginaggi turned pro on that card.

"Some fans might make the mistake of associating only Madison Square Garden with boxing in New York City," said Farhood. "All in all, this is a very strong card, as it should be. Eighty-one years is a long time to wait."

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