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Paulie Malignaggi, Zab Judah Interview Transcript
Zab Judah: Training camp has been fun. We had a great training camp here in Las Vegas and a lot of good public relations and I’m just excited to come back home and be crowned the king of BK.
Paulie Malignaggi: It’s a pleasure being on with everyone once again. I really look forward to mixing it up with Zab and hopefully we get a record crowd for Brooklyn at Barclays Center. I know he’s got a lot of support in Brooklyn and I know I have a lot of support in Brooklyn. We have a great supporting cast on the undercard and I think this card has the potential to be the best card that Barclays Center has put on yet, and we’ve had some great cards there. Hopefully, like Richard said, we get a good crowd. I would like it to be a sell-out card. I think it is going to be the most spectacular card that has been at Barclays yet. I look forward to mixing it with him and seeing who really is the king of Brooklyn for this generation and I’ve prepared very well for that.
Q: Dan Rafael ESPN- Hello guys- good to talk to you today. I’d like you both to answer. You guys are both from Brooklyn in the same weight class. When did you start to think this fight would happen?
For me this fight came about after the Garcia fight. In my preparation for moving forward to do what I do they said Paulie and I said “Paulie, nah, Paulie is my homeboy.” But I was like, ‘Hey, you know this is an opportunity that you’ve got to take for boxing.’ So I guess we’re here now. Like I said, this is a fight where there’s no animosity or anything like that. It’s just us going in there and representing for our city.
I’d like to echo the same sentiments as Zab. For a lot of years I came up behind Zab and he kind of laid the building blocks for my generation. He was kind of the guy to look up to and to try to match his accomplishments. It really didn’t come to mind, we were in different weight classes and at different places in our career, but people started mentioning it and talking around Brooklyn the past year or two. But I still didn’t think the fight had any chance of happening because we were still in different weight classes and kind of had different goals for our careers. We each took a competitive loss in our last fight and it’s kind of a situation where you have to take a step back in way from world title fights. But this isn’t such a step back because we’re still world-class even with no world title on the line.
It made a lot of sense from that perspective and also for us both being from Brooklyn. Until the fight was made I didn’t think it would be more than Brooklyn talk and that’s all. I think in the last couple of years people started getting in my ear that people in Brooklyn wanted to see what would happen if me and Zab Judah got in the ring together.
Q -Dan Rafael – I kind of thought this fight would get made a while ago. With the combination of Golden Boy working with the Barclays Center and Zab signing with Golden Boy it seemed like this fight was going to happen.
Zab just got signed after the Garcia fight and this was all a recent thing. Once Zab got signed that’s when the fight got brought up. Up until recently I didn’t think it would happen, but then when he got signed it started to come to fruition.
Q- Dan Rafael – You both seem to have a chip on your shoulder in past fights. Is it a little bit more difficult to get motivated for this fight because you guys have a lot of respect and a good relationship outside of the ring?
My motivation comes from the opportunity. The opportunity of still being here 18 years strong, to be competitive against young fighters like Paulie Malignaggi and Danny Garcia, and to still be competing at a high level of boxing. I mean, to be crowned the kings of BK, that’s a very big accomplishment coming from Brooklyn. There’s one thing a lot of people will tell you – there’s a pride about being from Brooklyn. Now we’ve got the opportunity in a sport that I’ve been in for the last 18 years of my life to be called the king of it. I’m excited for this one and that’s where the motivation comes from on my part.
The competition drives us all. That’s the reason we do this and get up in the morning and train hard for each fight. You need different things to drive you. The competition always is the driving force. The competitor in me is driven by winning. Winning means everything to me. Yeah, Zab is someone I respect and looked up to coming up, but winning means everything to me. I’m a competitor in anything I do, especially boxing. It’s not hard to get up for a fight like this. You can still respect your opponent and still get up for a fight. Come on man, we’re both wearing eight ounce gloves so I’m sure once someone gets hit we’ll both be throwing arms at each other.
Q- I know you both want to win really bad. How hard would it be to lose this fight in your hometown?
I think it’s more for the fans. It’s hard to go back to your fans and say, ‘Oh man you’re not the best fighter in your borough.’ I think the motivation is from there. You fight guys from other cities and you rep your neighborhood, you rep your city real well. I get announced as from Brooklyn, N.Y., regardless of where I’ve lived in my career because it’s a sense of pride. Here, the other guy is announced from Brooklyn, N.Y., and it’s a sense of inner-pride within the city. You have to run into the other guy’s fans. I don’t run into Adrien Broner fans in New York or other people’s fans in New York. But I can run into Zab’s fans and that is a mini-motivator itself.
Like Paulie said, the job is the motivation for what we’re doing right now. I’m motivated by the opportunity. I’m motivated by the situation. Paulie is somebody that I’ve known for a long time. I’ve watched him, I’ve watched him grow and there have even been a lot of fights where I’ve supported him. So now, it’s kind of crazy to be going up against each other but it’s the sport that we chose and, like he said, once the bell rings and the leather starts flying I think that anybody would come to their senses.
It’s a really emotional fight. You want to be king of Brooklyn. It’s the kind of fight you get up for because there are a lot big fights in your career but there is a lot of extra emotion being able to represent your borough and being able to be the king of Brooklyn. I know I have what it takes to be a world class fighter; I know what it takes to get back to the top. Winning a fight like this and getting myself a chance to get another world championship in my career is something I don’t doubt
Q- Lem Satterfield- Zab- Paulie told me about a time when you coached him as an amateur. He said he lost the fight but he’s always looked up to you. Do you remember that and do you remember what you thought of him as a fighter back then?
I thought he won that fight, from my recollection. Even back then as an amateur he had a heart, he was gutsy. He came out, he was very scrappy. I recall that, yeah, we kind of pulled out a lot of champions that year. So yeah, I think that Paulie did win the fight that year.
I didn’t win that fight but I lost to a big rival of mine. But we won the team trophy. Zab was the team coach and we won the team trophy at the Empire State Games.
Q- Lem- Obviously you guys fought at the highest level both at 140 pounds and 147 pounds. At what point do you think you were at the absolute best in your career?
I would probably say my Mickey Ward fight. I was 15-0 and I was highly motivated. That was one training camp I remember Ronnie Shields and my dad – we had a tough training camp. I was only 15-0, I remember taking on Mickey Ward and he had like 34 or something fights. He was known as a killer at that time, he was stopping guys with body shots. Everyone was like, ‘Zab that’s not a fight you should take, it’s going to mess your career up.’ And we went in there and we trained very hard, we had a dog camp and went in there and won the fight.
The first half of the Mayweather fight I was super sharp. It’s different times. Even in my last Danny Garcia fight I came on very strong at the end. I don’t look at one particular fight and say this was the best fight because every night is special to me. Every time you step in the ring you’ve got different things that happen, you’ve got to weather through them.
I’d say there have been a couple different times in my career when I was at an elite level or getting there. There was a moment in 2003 and 2004 where I thought I was really coming into my own, starting to win fights and starting to look impressive. I was getting to fight high level contenders and then I had a real bad hand injury. My hand was shattered and it set me back a lot and hindered a lot of my progress. I always wonder how I would have kept progressing if I didn’t have those injuries. You have a lot of youthful enthusiasm at that point in your career. I can pick nights where I’ve been sharper than others but I can’t pick one night where I’ve been my best.
Q- How do you capture that moment or those moments in this particular fight? Do you feel that you’re motivated given that you’re fighting in your home town?
I’m highly motivated and I’m ready to come in there and do what I do. Like Paulie said, I’m a very competitive person. As everybody can see throughout my career, I hate losing. Some of my early losses I kind of went crazy. I’ve learned to control myself over the years but losing is something that’s not in my arsenal right now and it’s something that we’re not looking forward to doing and we looking at progress and moving forward. This is why we teamed up with Golden Boy and Super Judah Promotions with Golden Boy. We’re ready to take on the world. I think Golden Boy and SHOWTIME are the two biggest- you’ve got the biggest promoter and you’ve got the biggest network out there and this is a place where Zab Judah needs to be. Zab Judah is pound-for-pound the best fighter in the world, hands down, and I am going to show the world that I am the best. Give me the opportunity and I’ll show you.
I think the motivation has to always be there. I think if you try too hard to summon it you fight yourself out. I look at the hard work and dedication I’ve put into my career and I try to put my best game face on fight night. If you think about trying to match your best performances you probably won’t because you’ll be thinking about the wrong things. The focus has to be to concentrate and focus on the person in front of you. You have to focus one round at a time, one minute at a time. And from there you put on some good performances without evening knowing it. I don’t think the goal is to put on a good performance, I think the goal is to execute a game plan when you go in there. Sometimes it comes out beautifully, sometimes it doesn’t. But you can’t go in there trying to put on a good show, you go in there trying to execute. That’s what I go in there trying to do.
First of all I want to say that both of those guys are rejuvenated because of all of the opportunities at 147 pounds. For both of them, one of their best fights is actually their last fight. When Paulie fought Broner he fought a great, great fight and I think he surprised a lot of people. Most people had it as an easy fight for Broner and look what he did. And that’s not because of what Broner didn’t do; it’s because of what Paulie did. I think he’s right there at the top and he knows what this win can lead to and how important this fight is. The same goes for Zab fighting Danny Garcia- most people thought it would be a one-sided affair. And look what Zab did, he turned back the clock. That’s as good of a Zab as I’ve seen. When Zab wants something he goes for it and I know he wants this. Their biggest fights, their best fights were actually their last fights and that’s why this is such a meaningful showdown.
Q- Mike Woods- This question is for Paulie- You’ve made no secret that in the last couple years you’ve thought about if you want to do this anymore. What are your thoughts now?
You don’t give yourself a definitive answer when it comes to something so serious. If I accept the fight then I accept the fight and go in and train 100 percent. Sometimes between fights I’ll be thinking, ‘I don’t know if I’m up to train for a fight again.’ But once mentally and physically I decide to fight I kind of erase the negativity. Its full speed ahead, you step on the gas and you go. Don’t get me wrong, in the beginning of camp when you’re trying to get back into shape you’re like, ‘Man, why did I do this?’ But once that competitive juice comes back and you start getting in shape, you start feeling sharp, you start feeling good and you realize why you do this. You realize the things that spur you on, that motivate you, that drive you to do this. The adrenaline rush, the excitement as a fight approaches and all of a sudden you’re not thinking about those negative things anymore and you’re thinking about all the positive things and all the fun this brings. Don’t get me wrong, it’s hard fight fighting at this level. But, at the same time, it’s a situation where I’d rather be here than anywhere else.
Q – Does it make it more difficult because you’ve become such a highly regarded commentator? Because you always have something to fall back on?
No, not the training, the training I work hard. Anything I do, I do it wholeheartedly. But sometimes before camp starts you wonder, ‘Do I really feel like getting up and starting another training camp?’ But once I’m in training camp, I do the miles and I put the hours in the gym wholeheartedly. There’s never a time where I say I don’t want to train today because I could fall back on something. I’m not the kind of person that does something half-assed. If I know I won’t do it wholeheartedly I won’t do it. When I accepted this fight I knew what that came with.
Q- Zab – do you ever stay awake at night and say, ‘Man I’m 36 old this really could be my last fight?’
No, as far as the age, my age is great. I’m highly motivated. You’ve got one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world, Floyd Mayweather, he’s older than me. You’ve got Juan Manuel Marquez, he just knocked out Manny Pacquiao with one punch, he’s older than me. You’ve got Bernard Hopkins, one of the baddest fighters of today’s era, he’s my grandfather. So when you say old, what do you mean by old? Old by what, longevity? I’ve been in the game since I was 18 years old and I’ve been world champion multiple times in different weight classes. Is that what you mean by old? I mean as far as age goes, I’m far from old. I mean, some of the best of the best of the world today are way older than me and I’m just highly motivated the opportunity. I want to thank Richard Schaefer and the whole Golden Boy staff and team for just even allowing themselves to do business with my camp and myself and I think we’re going to have a phenomenal time. I think that when people say your last time or your last fight is your best fight, this is nowhere near my last fight. This is the beginning of a turn of a new leaf. I am going to go in there and come out of this fight successfully.
Yeah Paulie and I have a great respect for each other, but at the end of the day there can only be one winner and I am going to take that route. I’m going to take that medal of achievement and I’m going to step up and do what I’ve got to do. Is there any beef or anything? No, there’s no beef. But we’re both two competitive athletes and Paulie’s supposed to say his skills are better than mine and I’m supposed to say that my skills are better than Paulie’s. That’s what’s going to make Dec. 7th a fantastic night of boxing. That’s why all of Brooklyn and New York City and the tri-state area and New Jersey and Connecticut need to come out and watch a great night of boxing. You are going to watch two of the best guys to come out of the tri-state area put on for you guys. So be there.
Q- What do you admire most about each other?
Number one, I admire Paulie because he’s from Brooklyn. He stands up with that Brooklyn pride. He represent Brooklyn wherever he goes, he talks about it and keeps it fresh in people’s ears and eyes. Number two, he’s a fighter. I respect that every fighter has the heart and audacity to climb into the ring and take on competitive fights, so you’ve got to respect him as a human being. Yes, I do.
The admiration I have for Zab came from trying to follow in his footsteps coming up. I saw him accomplish things that I had the goal to accomplish. I watched Zab accomplish each and every one of them before me. It was an admiration and a motivator to see someone my city, from my borough accomplish these things and get some credibility and notoriety doing the same thing that I do. When somebody does it so close to home they automatically get that admiration when they’re older than you and you see them accomplishing those things and you kind of want to follow in their footsteps. That admiration comes from being that younger fighter looking up to someone like that.
Q – Gina Caruso – What’s your comfort level now coming back into the ring with someone you know and respect so much.
I don’t know, it’s the situation. It’s nothing personal against Paulie. It’s something that we’ve got to go in here and do. This is how we feed our family. This is the game that we chose. My greatest motivation in this situation is I just fought a 25-year-old undefeated young fighter, one of the best young 140-pound fighters today and I hung in there. Everybody said if there were 30 more seconds the fight would be different. So that’s where my inspiration and motivation comes from. Just being able to still go toe-to-toe with the young boys like this and just show that when I do step up and when I do focus my mind and focus on getting these guys I just go in there and get them. With that kind of motivation I am the best pound for pound fighter in the world.
I think with me, the approach I always take is in boxing you have to have a short memory. No matter how much you’ve accomplished or how low you can go as far as downfalls, you have to forget about them and you have to move on no matter what. I put whatever happened behind me, the Broner fight is done. The opponent now is Zab Judah. As Zab said, there’s nothing personal as far as a competitive aspect is concerned, but that’s the guy in front of me and that’s the guy I intend to be successful against in two weeks. The game plan is focused on that and nothing else. In reality you can only look forward. The past can’t be changed, only the future can be changed.
ABOUT “JUDAH VS. MALIGNAGGI”:
Judah vs. Malignaggi is a 12-round fight for the NABF and NABO Welterweight titles taking place on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. The event is promoted by Golden Boy Promotions in association with Super Judah Promotions and sponsored by Corona, AT&T, Grudge Match and Casamigos Tequila. In the co-featured bout, Devon Alexander puts his IBF welterweight title on the line in a 12-round bout against Shawn Porter, Erislandy Lara defends his interim WBA Super Welterweight title in a 12-round fight against Austin Trout and Sakio Bika defends his WBC Super Middleweight title against Anthony Dirrell in a 12-round bout. The SHOWTIME telecast begins at 8:00 p.m. ET/ 5:00 p.m. PT immediately following ALL ACCESS: Broner vs. Maidana which begins at 7:30 p.m. ET/ 4:30 p.m. PT. The telecast will be available in Spanish via secondary audio programming (SAP).
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