These sorts of fights should happen more, but don't, for various reasons. Money is probably top of the list why intra-borough, NYC-bragging-rights bouts like the Nov. 9 clash between 35-1-1 Dmitriy Salita of Flatbush and 22-1-1 Gabriel Bracero of Sunset Park don't occur but every so often.
Lou DiBella will stage the welterweight clash, which will unfold at the Aviator Complex in South Brooklyn, and will pay out of pocket decent money, the sort of checks that go to guy main eventers on ESPN's "Friday Night Fights." The joint should be sold out, as everyone who attended the Thursday presser at Marco Polo Ristorante in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn assured me, and will also feature DiBella boxers Heather Hardy, Shemuel Pagan, and debuting phenom Junior Younan, who is advised by James Prince, Andre Ward's advisor.
Bracero told me that he isn't interested in merely winning, but looking good, putting a conclusive stamp on the effort. "I've slacked off on knockouts because of my immaturity in the ring, a little too impatient, emotional, not planting when I'm throwing my punches. I've been working on all that stuff," said the 32-year-old boxer who is trained by Tommy Gallagher. "I'm going to punish Salita, and it's going to end in a KO."
Bracero, who has just four KOs to his credit, said he sparred with Salita two or three times in years past, and "it went good on my behalf." They've known each other since they were kids, but it doesn't seem like Bracero will go soft, as he struck me as being in a beast mode, a contained beast mode.
"We're two different people," he said, hinting that he owns a hunger to win that Salita doesn't. "I'm going to make a statement with my win. There's no ifs or buts. I have to make a statement. I have to make a statement for the promoters, for DiBella, for my team, for them to stay behind me."
Salita, age 31, told me that this is a must win for him. He said he respects Salita as a solid boxer, but...
But if he can't beat a Bracero, he can't continue to lobby for inclusion in the title talk with the A-grade guys at 147. "This is a high level crossroads fight," Salita told me. "After a win would come a world title opportunity, or something similar." And he agrees with Bracero, the manner in which he'd win is important. "I expect Gabe to come with it," he said. "I think it's going to be very spirited."