2006-06-09 / Sports

Cotto, Malignaggi, Duddy Headlines At Rumble In The Garden

By Everett Fell


John Duddy, seen here landing a punch on Bryon Mackie last November at the Hammerstein Ballroom, will be fighting for the second straight time at MSG. Photo By Borriello Photography.
John Duddy, seen here landing a punch on Bryon Mackie last November at the Hammerstein Ballroom, will be fighting for the second straight time at MSG. Photo By Borriello Photography. Miguel Cotto allowed his WBO Jr. Welterweight title to speak volumes about who he is as a competitor and where he stands in his boxing career at Wednesday's Press Conference in the lobby of theParamount Theatre for Saturday's fight at Madison Square Garden against Paulie Malignaggi.

The Puerto Rican, who is 26-0 with 22 KOs, kept his speech short and received boisterous applause and laughter despite speaking, through an interpreter, with little emotion. Cotto's upcoming opponent, however, jabbed away with verbal blows to the champion.

"This is some great water, do you want some?" said the contender as he dangled the Dasani bottle in front of Cotto in a sarcastic manner as the champion usually struggles to make the 140-pound limit.

Malignaggi, a native of Brooklyn with a 21-0 (5 KOs) record, took offense over Cotto's recent statement in a Puerto Rican paper saying that he never heard of his opponent before they scheduled the bout, and predicted he would knockout the contender in two rounds.

"You don't fan the flames with Paulie Malignaggi," he said. "I'm counting down the seconds to I get my hands on him."

Cotto's trainer and uncle, Evangelista Cotto, retorted with a common saying in Puerto Rico, "Ignorance is bliss." The Cotto contingent seemed amused with Malignaggi's antics. "We can also be thankful that he's going to be wearing a mouthpiece so he won't be talking in the ring," the older Cotto said. The 25-year old champion informed the crowd comprised of the media, friends, family and general boxing-enthusiasts that his rise to prominence involved sacrifice and ambition while claiming Malignaggi's status is owed entirely to his promoting

team.

"Once Saturday is over, he's going back to those ballrooms and clubs where he comes from."

The Main Event headlines a card with five other fights including two featuring Queens fighters. Irish John Duddy, who sports a 16-0 (14 KOs) record, defends his WBC Continental Americas Middleweight Title against Freddy Cuevas (25-8-1, 17 KOs). Duddy, 26, who hails from Derry and trains at the Irish Ropes gym in Arverne, continues to accumulate a fevered following among locals and plays up his Celtic background.

"I expect a lot of Irish fans to be at the fight and to be loud and drinking alcohol," Duddy said. "Someday hopefully in the future, I'll be like these guys and be fighting for the world title," referring to the headline boxers. Joining Duddy in representing Queens is the veteran Kevin Kelley (58-6-2, 39 KOs) as the Flushing Flash returns to the Garden to fight the WBC Continental Americas Jr. Lightweight Champion Bobby Pacquio (26-11-3, 11 Kos), younger brother ofManny - the International Super Featherweight Champion.

"I came back to capture a little bit of that luster that evaded me and am glad to be putting the younger kids away," said Kelley, 38, who now resides in Las Vegas. "I wish the guys in the main event good luck but I'm going to steal the show." Pacquio displayed a reserved demeanor but called on his Filipino fans, using a priest as his interpreter, to show their support.

Former Notre Dame football star, Tommy Zbikowski, makes his pro debut at heavyweight against Akron, Ohio's Robert Bell (2-2, 2 Kos), who referred to the defensive back as Rudy.

Juilo Cesar Chavez Jr. (25-0-1, 18 Kos), son of the legendary Mexican fighter, squares in a six-round

Super Lightweight bout with Aaron Drake (1901, 8 KOs). Adding to the Puerto Rican flair on the eve of the Parade is Juan Manuel Lopez (26-11-3, 11 Kos) as he fights Mexican, Sergio Mendez (5-0, 1 Kos).

The card will be aired live on Pay-Per-View. The event matches up against another major one in Atlantic City, however, Bob Arum, Cotto's promoter, reminds everyone not to confuse his show with the wheelchair fight on Saturday.

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