The first boxing match at the Barclays Center will be a battle between Brooklynites — if Bensonhurst-born World Boxing Association welterweight champion Paulie “Magic Man” Malignaggi gets his way.
Malignaggi called out Ukraine-born, Flatbush-raised welter-weight contender Dmitriy “Kid Kosher” Salita, an Orthodox Jew who won’t fight on the sabbath until after sundown, during a tour of the soon-to-be-opened Barclays Center on Friday. Malignaggi will kick off the center’s monthly boxing series on Oct. 20.
“If I had it my way, it’d be Dmitriy,” said Malignaggi, holding the belt he won from another Ukranian, Vyacheslav Senchenko, after a grueling April 29 bout at Senchenko’s hometown of Donetsk. “It’d be almost like a civil war in Brooklyn. Our fan bases are so different and so Brooklyn, and these kind of ethnic battles always generate a lot of fanfare.”
Salita has already announced that he wants a shot at Malignaggi’s belt, and agreed that the fight would electrify their favorite borough.
“It would go beyond the world of boxing, it would be a legendary event,” said Salita.
Yet there’s a wrinkle: Kid Kosher, who also goes by the nicknames “Star of David” and “Kosher Nostra,” hasn’t had a fight since April, 2011. He will need to pull out a win soon if he hopes to be considered for Barclay’s premier bout.
“Things have to happen quickly for me to make it work,” Salita said.
The two fighters have known each other for years. They trained at rival gyms — Gleason’s for Malignaggi, Starrett City for Salita — but both turned pro in 2001 and moved up to welterweight after devastating losses to light welterweight champion Amir Khan.
Salita’s record stands at 33 wins — 17 of them knockouts — one loss and one draw, while Malignaggi has won 31 fights — seven of them knockouts — and lost four.
Barclays officials won’t say who Malignaggi will be fighting on Oct. 20, or if Magic Man will be the title card — although he is the odds on favorite.
But that didn’t stop either boxer from indulging in a little trash talk.
Salita called Malignaggi a friend, but predicted that he would take his bud’s new belt if they touched gloves.
“Paulie’s a great fighter and truly accomplished a lot in his career. But I got his number,” Salita said. “The world and Brooklyn will see in October.”
Malignaggi, for his part, pointed to the two belts he’s won and the array of big-name fighters he’s taken on, including Miguel Cotto, Ricky Hatton, and Juan Diaz.
“My resume speaks for itself. I’ve fought at a very world-class level, and he has only fought at that level once,” Malignaggi said.