When world championship boxing returns to Brooklyn, New York for the first time since 1931 at the brand new Barclays Center on Saturday, October 20, it will do so with one of its own. Reigning WBA World Welterweight Champion Paulie “Magic Man” Malignaggi, fresh off of a masterful championship capturing upset of undefeated Ukrainian Vyacheslav Senchenko in Senchenko’s hometown of Donetsk, will attempt to defend his title for the first time in his home borough against rugged Mexican Pablo Cesar Cano.
Malignaggi, sure to be the hometown favorite, is part of a long legacy in the squared circle. Brooklyn has been the birthplace of some of the biggest and most storied names in the history of boxing. As Malignaggi prepares for Cano, a reflection on the shadows hovering over his homecoming reminds us just how much glory there is in the Brooklyn boxing tradition. No shadow extends farther than that of Brooklyn’s most famous fistic son.
Kid Dynamite . . . Iron Mike . . . .Tyson.
The youngest heavyweight world champion of all time, defeating Trevor Berbick for the WBC title in 1986 at only 20 years of age, Tyson won a unification tournament with decision wins over James “Bonecrusher” Smith (WBA) and Tony Tucker (IBF) to become the undisputed heavyweight world champion in 1987. Any dispute to the claim was laid to rest with a legendary 91-second knockout of Michael Spinks the following year.
Tyson would win his first 37 bouts before being defeated in what many regard as the biggest upset in the history of boxing and perhaps all of sport, a tenth-round knockout at the hands of James “Buster” Douglas. Personal turbulence led to a prison term in 1992, but Tyson wasn’t done with boxing yet. He returned to the ring in 1995 and went on to win two more heavyweight titles with knockout wins over Frank Bruno (WBC) and Bruce Seldon (WBA) in 1996. Tyson was elected to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2011.
Tyson is but one in the pantheon of Brooklyn’s finest. See below for information on other Brooklyn champions, the neighborhoods they hailed from and briefs on their careers.
Brooklyn’s Boxing Champions
Riddick Bowe (Brownsville): “Big Daddy” Bowe represented the United States at the 1988 Olympic Games, winning a super heavyweight silver medal. In 1992, Bowe defeated Evander Holyfield for the undisputed heavyweight crown, holding the title until a rematch with Holyfield the following year. Bowe would add the WBO Heavyweight title with a 1995 knockout of Herbie Hide and became the first man to stop Holyfield in their third and final fight later that year.
Mark Breland (Bed-Stuy): Breland won the gold medal at welterweight at the 1984 Olympic Games. In 1987, he stopped Harold Volbrecht in seven rounds to win the WBA Welterweight title and regained vacant WBA title in 1989 with a first round knockout of Seung-Soon Lee.
Shannon Briggs (Brownsville): The big punching Briggs defeated George Foreman for the ‘linear’ heavyweight crown in 1997 and won the WBO Heavyweight belt with a dramatic twelfth round knockout of Sergiy Lyakhovich in 2006.
Paddy DeMarco (Navy Yard): DeMarco won two out of three against the great Sandy Saddler in non-title affairs and won a decision over Jimmy Carter for the World Lightweight title in 1954.
Joey Giardello (Flatbush): While much of his fighting glory would come in Philadelphia, Giardello’s toughness and guile were born on the streets of Brooklyn. Giardello won the World Middleweight title from Dick Tiger in 1963 and was elected to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1993.
Junior Jones (Bushwick): “Poison” got off the canvas to win a decision over Jorge Eliecer Julio in 1993 to win the WBA Bantamweight title. In 1996, he became the first man to defeat Marco Antonio Barrera and won the WBO Super Bantamweight crown in the process, dropping the Mexican great and forcing his corner to enter the ring for a forfeit/disqualification in the fifth round.
Zab Judah (Brownsville): Judah won the IBF Junior Welterweight title in 2000 with a fourth-round knockout of Jan Bergman. In 2003, a decision over DeMarcus “Chop Chop” Corley gave him the WBO Junior Welterweight crown. Judah’s finest hour came in 2005 when he knocked out Cory Spinks to win the undisputed welterweight title. Since then Judah, added one more title belt to his collection in knocking out Kaizer Mabuza in seven rounds for the vacant IBF Junior Welterweight title in 2011.
Solly Krieger (Williamsburg): Born Danny Auerbach, Krieger claimed the National Boxing Association Middleweight crown with a majority decision win over Al Hostak in 1938. Krieger also had a huge rivalry with the great Billy Conn, dropping Conn en route to a decision win in their first of three bouts.
Paulie Malignaggi (Bensonhurst): When Malignaggi defends against Cano it will be as a two-division champion. Malignaggi won a decision over Lovemore N’Dou for the IBF Junior Welterweight title in 2007.
Eddie “Cannonball” Martin (Park Slope): Martin won recognition from the New York State Athletic Commission as the world bantamweight champion with a split-decision victory over Abe Goldstein in 1924. Martin would later lose a pair of 1928 Junior Lightweight title shots to Todd? Morgan, the second at the famed Ebbets Field in Brooklyn.
Michael Moorer: Moorer was born in Brooklyn and grew up in Pennsylvania before coming under the tutelage of Emanuel Steward at the famed Kronk Gym in Detroit. Moorer stopped Ramzi Hassan in five for the vacant WBO Light Heavyweight title in 1988. Moving to Heavyweight, Moorer stopped Bert Cooper in 1992 to win the WBO Heavyweight belt. A decision over Evander Holyfield in 1994 made him the first southpaw universally recognized as heavyweight world champion. Moorer would later win a vacant IBF belt with a decision over Axel Schultz in 1996.
Eddie Mustafa Muhammad (Brownsville): Born Eddie Gregory, Muhammad knocked out Marvin Johnson in 1980 to win the WBA Light Heavyweight title. Muhammad is famed today as a trainer of multiple world champions.
Lou Salica (Bensonhurst): A Flyweight bronze medalist at the 1932 Olympics, Salica won the New York State Athletic Commission World title at bantamweight with a decision over Tony Olivera in 1939. He added the National Boxing Association title in 1940 with a decision over Georgie Pace to earn universal recognition as the champion.
World championship boxing returns to Brooklyn with an inaugural night of fights at the new Barclays Center on October 20 headlined by Unified Super Lightweight World Champion Danny Garcia against future Hall of Famer Erik Morales.
In the co-featured attractions, Brooklyn’s own Paulie “Magic Man” Malignaggi puts his WBA Welterweight World Championship on the line against hard-hitting Pablo Cesar “El Demoledor” Cano, number one rated WBO middleweight contender Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillin of Manhattan takes on unbeaten Hassan N’Dam for N’Dam’s WBO Middleweight World Championship and Devon Alexander faces Randall Bailey for Bailey’s IBF Welterweight World Championship in a bout presented in association with DiBella Entertainment.
The undercard is loaded with many of New York’s top fighters, including Brooklyn’s hot middleweight prospect Daniel “The Golden Child” Jacobs, former World Champion Luis Collazo, the Bronx’s rising star Eddie Gomez, former world title contender Dmitriy Salita and Brooklyn prospect Boyd Melson.