The biggest action this weekend takes place at New York’s Barclays Center, with three world titles and one regional US belt up for grabs.
Headlining the event is a clash between local Brooklynites Zab Judah, 42-8 (29), and Paulie Malignaggi, 32-5 (7), who meet for the NABF title at welterweight.
Both boxers have had up and down careers and won world honors at light welter and welter. Currently, Judah is on an upswing after climbing off the canvas to give WBC/WBA light welter kingpin Danny Garcia a very hard time, quite unexpectedly, late in their fight, won by Garcia on points, this past April.
Malignaggi is also on an upswing, also after a loss, doing well against Adrien Broner, who jumped up from lightweight to take the WBA 147 pound crown from “The Magic Man” by split decision in June.
Tonight, we can probably expect Judah to wing big southpaw left hands at Malignaggi all night as Paulie doesn’t have the pop in his punches required to keep Judah off.
But this approach is unlikely to produce a stoppage; Malignaggi has a solid chin, making this an almost certain 12 rounder with the winner the fighter who can mount the busier offensive campaign.
Next up is IBF welter champ Devon Alexander, 25-1 (14), who faces undefeated contender Shawn Porter, 22-0-1 (14).
Porter is taking a big step up, having previously only been to world class level in two fights against Julio Diaz, winning the second with difficulty after getting a draw in the first.
Lefty Alexander has won four in a row, pickup up the IBF welter strap after having his light welter belts removed by Timothy Bradley in 2011, and is likely to extend that victory parade with a points verdict over the inexperienced Porter.
Hard man Sakio Bika, 32-5-2 (21), came up the hard way, fighting his way up the ladder, losing decisions to Joe Calzaghe, Andre Ward, Lucian Bute and Sam Soliman before taking the vacant WBC super middle title in June with a majority decision over Marco Antonio Periban.
Bika puts his belt up for the first time and will meet undefeated Anthony Dirrell, 26-0 (22), who has zero experience at top level, and could have a very difficult time against the far more experienced Bika.
But, if Dirrell can stay on the outside and avoid brawling with the champ, he may have a shot. If Bika can cut off the ring and force close quarters action he will likely grind down the challenger with a points win or late stoppage.
The vacant WBA light middle trophy is at stake in a bad blood grudge match between former titleholder Austin Trout, 26-1 (14), and Interim WBA champ Erislandy Lara, 18-1-2 (12).
Trout holds a win over Miguel Cotto but was dethroned last time out in a unification clash with Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in April, while Lara won the Interim belt in June with a stoppage of Alfredo Angulo, won a moral victory in getting screwed in a draw against Paul Williams in 2011 but, was held to a draw by Vanes Martirosyan a year ago in a fight Landy was widely expected to win.
This one is a toss up, hard to say how this all-southpaw clash will turn out but Trout has gone 12 rounds on six occasions and Lara just once. Will that mean anything once the bell rings? Maybe not but this one will probably go the distance and if Lara puts too much effort into trying to KO Trout, expect Trout to surge late and get the win.