Irish S Zbikowski makes pro debut on Cotto card

Updated: June 27, 2006, 9:15 AM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- On the undercard of Saturday's junior welterweight title bout between Miguel Cotto and Paulie Malignaggi, Tom Zbikowski plans to come into the Madison Square Garden ring to the Notre Dame fight song before making his pro debut.

Tom Zbikowski
Zbikowski

"I'm ready to put on a show of skill, speed and power this place hasn't seen in a while," said Zbikowski, a third-team All-America safety for the Fighting Irish. He will face Robert Bell, who has won two of his four pro fighs.

Zbikowski, who was 75-15 as an amateur, returns to Notre Dame for his senior season. He had to receive permission from the NCAA to take money for the fight, which is scheduled for four rounds.

Meanwhile, Cotto, the WBO junior welterweight champion, already has made plans to attend a parade this weekend. He's not about to let Paul Malignaggi spoil it.

Paulie Malignaggi
Malignaggi

Miguel Cotto
Cotto

Cotto plans to defends his 140-pound title at the Garden and then plans to catch the annual Puerto Rican parade in New York City the next day and celebrate with his countrymen.

First he must contend with Malignaggi, a native New Yorker, in a classic puncher-vs.-boxer matchup.

"Once the fight is over he'll go right back where he comes from, fighting back in the clubs in New York," Cotto said.

Both fighters in the main event are undefeated, but Cotto has the pedigree gained from his WBO title and tougher competition. Cotto has 22 knockouts in 26 fights and is considered one of the top 140-pounders around.

Malignaggi has won all 21 of his fights but has only five knockouts. He is more of a boxer than a puncher, but he doesn't lack for confidence against Cotto.

"I play on spoiling the show for a lot of the people that are expecting me to get stopped and a lot of people that think I'm going to be exposed as a fraud," Malignaggi said.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

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