By Andy Byles
On March 5, 2011, Zab “Super” Judah won by TKO in the 7th round over Kaizer Mabuza to win the vacant IBF Light Welterweight title. It had been almost ten years since he last held the IBF crown. Now with Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker in his corner, he appears to be back on the path to stardom with a major title in his hand and a desire to rule the light welterweight division.
LoL (Laughing out Loud). I do amuse myself sometimes. Now don’t get me wrong. Judah is a very accomplished fighter. He had an impressive amateur career (110-5) and was undefeated professionally for the first four years…including winning the IBF Jr. Welterweight title in 2000. Unfortunately for him, Kostya Tszyu not only exposed his chin, but exposed Zab’s inner “beauty” as well. Let me explain for those who may not understand what I mean.
The date was November 3, 2001. Zab Judah and Kostya Tszyu were going to battle for the unified Jr. Welter titles. Zab defending the IBF and Tszyu the WBC and WBA version. Judah was a 3 – 1 favorite going into the fight. Zab was the younger and faster opponent and showed is superior speed in the opening round. It was a good round for Judah. Stunning the slower Tszyu with a powerful uppercut that had him retreating to the ropes. But Kostya was a warrior and a veteran of big fights. He survived that onslaught and made it to the second round. Tszyu now went on the offensive. The one question going into the fight was “how well can Judah take a punch?” Up to that point, Judah’s chin had yet to be really tested. It’s safe to say he failed that test. In the closing seconds of the second round Tszyu hit Zab with a straight right hand that sent him to the canvas. Dazed and confused, Judah got up way too fast, stumbled, said something to the ref like “don’t ever play with matches…”
(thanks Cedric the Entertainer!) then fell back down. Referee Jay Nady had seen enough and waived off the fight. Judah had lost for the first time in his professional career.
I detail this fight because it really is the defining moment of Zab Judah’s career. Kostya Tszyu had exposed his chin (or lack there of) and shown that Zab was vulnerable. Not only that, Zab showed everyone that he can’t control himself. To put it another way, he’s a crybaby. After whining in the ring for awhile he then took it upon himself to attack the referee, Jay Nady. Then he threw things. It was like watching a four year old having a temper tantrum. The real funny part was that prior to the fight, during an interview on Showtime, Zab said that he doesn’t cry. Really? Wow. Now I know it was a devastating loss for him. He thought he was invincible. But in the world of boxing you have to accept defeat and learn from your mistakes. True warriors persevere and make adjustments. They come back harder. Faster. Better than ever before. But not Zab.
After the Tszyu fight, Zab took some time off (he got a 6 month suspension for his antics). He fought a few guys here and there. Nothing special (even lost to Corey Spinks). Then he had an offer to fight the undefeated Floyd Mayweather Jr. This was the moment Zab surely was waiting for. Here is a chance to get back into the spot light and show the world that you’re not really the guy we saw in the Tszyu fight. You are a champion. All you have to do is win a tune-up fight against this guy Carlos Baldomir.
What? Zab lost to Baldomir by decision? Not only that, but “The Ring” said it was the upset of the year. There goes the big fight he was waiting for. But for some reason, the promoters still thought Zab brought something special to the table and were still willing to give Zab a shot. Man, what a lucky break. Ok Zab, you get yet ANOTHER chance. Make the best of it.
Judah tried to do just that…during the first four rounds. He came out and matched Floyd’s speed and punching prowess. It looked liked we were all in for a spectacular fight. Then the tides started to turn. By the tenth round Judah looked like a beaten fighter and Mayweather was in full control. So, Judah decided to give Floyd a low blow and then hit him in the back of the head. Corners for both fighters entered the ring and after several minutes, the fight finally resumed. Judah lost by unanimous decision. Not only that, his antics (again) cost him a year’s suspension.
Since he’s been back fighting, Zab has lost to the only real major opponents he’s faced (in my opinion mind you), Miguel Cotto, tko 11 and Joshua Clottey by technical decision. Since the Clottey fight, though, Zab has won five fights in a row…including the last which won him the IBF title. Some of those wins have been impressive. Zab still possesses the power that won him belts and still has the speed it takes to make a difference in this sport. But is he a contender to the other big names in the business? Can he still get the big fights? There is currently talk of Zab fighting Mexican superstar Juan Manuel Marquez. If that fight happens, then that could be the opportunity that Zab really needs. It is an intriguing match-up. If Zab does well, then there are surely more opportunities that await him. Lets hope Judah has matured a little and can give us a good show.
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