Advertisement
Advertisement

When Did Zab Judah Become a Cagey Veteran?

By Cliff Rold

Saturday night, former Undisputed Welterweight champion Zab Judah (40-6, 27 KO) will attempt to capture the vacant IBF Jr. Welterweight title, squared off with 31-year old Kaizer Mabuza (23-6-3, 14 KO).  Judah pulled off the feat once before, the IBF’s 140 lb. belt being the first major title he won as a professional.

It was February 12, 2000.  The opponent was (Trivial Pursuit time) South Africa’s Jan Bergman.  Bergman, despite being down twice in the first, provided a snapshot of the turbulence to come, dropping Judah in the second before being run over in round four.

The knockdown was mostly overlooked then.  Judah was still a star of the future, a “Pernell Whitaker with power.” 

Judah was still fresh.  He hadn’t gone through the roller coaster ride yet.  Those who watched his career, whether jeering or cheering, hadn’t gone along for the ride. 

The low of the 2nd round Kostya Tszyu Jr. Welterweight unification loss in 2001…

The high of the rematch knockout of Cory Spinks in 2005 for the Welterweight crown…

A shocking upset loss for the crown to journeyman Carlos Baldomir…

Big events with Floyd Mayweather and Miguel Cotto. 

In regular human terms, Judah is still young of course.  It is the boxing terms that matter here.  In boxing, the Judah who enters the ring this weekend is anything but the fresh faced, hyper talent of over a decade ago.

Zab Judah is 33 years old. 

After all the ups and downs, Judah has reached the point where he can be described as a seasoned, cagey even, veteran. 

When the hell did that happen?

A professional since September 1996, Judah has been around almost fifteen years now. 

No, really.

It’s been that long.

That doesn’t include the years for those who knew his name before he entered the paid ranks.  Talent gets its attentions. He’s been a steady figure, for better and worse, on the fistic landscape for all these years and it’s odd because it doesn’t feel long at all.  Maybe it’s the narrative about varying levels of maturity and immaturity attached to Judah, fairly and unfairly, that make it hard to see Judah as aging, as closer to the end of his time as a relevant pro.

But, odds are, he is.

That doesn’t mean he’s done yet.  Judah showed his evolution into a new role his last time out.  In November 2011, matched with undefeated banger Lucas Matthysse, Judah boxed well early only to hit the deck in round ten.  Steadying the ship, steadying himself, Judah boxed smart enough in the last two rounds to hang on for a split decision win.

It was his fourth win in a row since a technical decision loss for a Welterweight belt in 2008 versus Joshua Clottey.  Against Mabuza this weekend, Judah faces a fighter better than his record.  Mabuza has won eight straight, and laid the leather to former 140 lb. titlist Kendall Holt his last time out for a stoppage.

It’s a real fight.  It’s also an odd moment of full circling.  How often has a fighter won a belt, moved up to win the whole enchilada, and then come back right to where he started over ten years later? 

Nothing comes to mind. 

It goes without saying that makes it even less often that they come back down the scale to an even better division than what they began in.  Judah-Tszyu was a fairly easy fight to build to on paper in the early 00’s because it was so obvious that they were the class of their Jr. Welterweight class. 

It’s not the case today.  Sure, Timothy Bradley and Amir Khan have begun to separate from the crowded and talented current pack at Jr. Welterweight, but the depth around them means no one gets a night off.  Men like Marcos Maidana, Andriy Kotelnik, Devon Alexander provide a strong supporting cast.

If Judah can win this weekend, if he can grab the only belt of gate value not attached to Bradley (WBC/WBO) and Khan (WBA), his homecoming to Jr. Welterweight is complete and, in some sense, the picture of the division is completed as well.  Overflowing with young, hungry talent (Kotelnik is the rare veteran), Jr. Welterweight has lacked for the big name veteran who can still go.

As was in evidence versus Matthysse, Judah still has hand speed, still has his legs.  He’s always had pop.  All those rounds with almost all of the names that mattered near his weight, win and lose, provide a wealth of experience the Bradley’s and Khan’s are still acquiring.  They make him a viable opponent for those young men on their way to places Judah has been and beyond. 

He’ll be the underdog should he get there.  He probably doesn’t get by most of these young guns.  We know he already clipped one.  Regardless, there is a winking piece of storytelling in a former can’t miss blue chipper, Judah in particular, now positioning himself as the weathered spoiler.

If Judah is suddenly part of a ‘older generation,’ what does that make those who watched him through the parallel years of their lives?          

Weekly Ledger

But wait, there’s more…

Rios Rises at Lightweight: http://www.boxingscene.com/bam-bam-dont-throw-pebbles-review-ratings-update--36476  
Divisional Ratings Update:
http://www.boxingscene.com/forums/view.php?pg=boxing-ratings
The Reign of Keb Baas Continues:
http://www.boxingscene.com/keb-baas-extends-unlikely-reign-stops-aguirre-nine--36427  
Picks of the Week:
http://www.boxingscene.com/boxingscenecoms-television-picks-week--36489  

Cliff’s Notes… Nonito Donaire-Anselmo Moreno can’t really be as easy to make as it looks, can it?  If so, how refreshing is it to see so much talent in one place just keep making fights.  Gotta’ love Bantamweight…and Lightweight, Jr. Welterweight, and Super Middleweight, where the same thing is happening.  Don’t ever buy the lie that the best don’t fight each other in boxing just because a couple prima donnas here and there can’t get it together…Roy Jones is talking about Denis Lebedev?  The Cruiserweight Denis Lebedev?  What kind of delusional garbage is this?  If Jones wants to continue, that’s his business.  The pox belongs on the house of any network that pays for this and any fan that buys a ticket…David Haye and Wladimir Klits…shhh, don’t jinx it. 

Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America.  He can be reached at [email protected]

User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by Tom Loeffler on 03-04-2011

[QUOTE=daggum;10181818]judah also found a way to lose to bottom notch baldomir as well.[/QUOTE] That's funny because before Zab Judah found a way to lose to bottom notch Carlos Baldomir, 18 fighters straight, including Joshua Clottey and Arturo Gatti, also found…

Comment by Mr. Philadel on 03-04-2011

[QUOTE=DAN916;10179989][/QUOTE] at that time I was probably one of the biggest Zab fans in the world :lol1:....it was a KD...clear as day!!

Comment by KingOfBox on 03-04-2011

It seems like boxing has gotten more out of Judah than Judah has gotten out of boxing... Kinda tragic actually... You're just never surprised when he wins, and never surprised when he loses... I would be happy to see Judah…

Comment by fastblack on 03-03-2011

who would be dumb enough to purchase a PPV of the Jab Judah fight?????? I mean it's Jab frickin Judah a street pimp trying to box. outside of the ghetto who would purchase this trash??? Judah on PPV give me…

Comment by daggum on 03-03-2011

[QUOTE=AllEyesOpen;10181477]I guess all his big fights were staged too, seems like Judah always finds a way to lose a fight against a top notch opponent.[/QUOTE] judah also found a way to lose to bottom notch baldomir as well.

Post a Comment - View More User Comments (21)
Top Headlines Klitschko on Fury: This is Not About Titles, This is About Revenge! Chris Eubank Jr: I Can Knock Gennady Golovkin Out! Froch Cautions Joshua Not To Rush, Picks Fury To Beat Klitschko Kerry Hope is Convinced Vijender Singh Was Scared at Presser Zeuge is Sparring With Braehmer For De Carolis WBA Title Clash McGregor Was Looking For 50-50 Split With Floyd Mayweather Firat Arslan vs. Nuri Seferi Crossroads Bout on September 18 Eubank Sr. Baits Golovkin: Prove To Me That You Can Beat My Son! Rey Ojeda Shocks Puerto Rico With Retirement Announcement Thurman-Porter Makes Working Weekend Worth The Wrangling Cotto vs. Marquez Negotiations Continue To Play Out Hurd: I Didn’t Want to Force the Stoppage After Dropping Molina Joshua Warns Wilder: Focus on Arreola, I'll Be To America Soon Photos/Weights: Edner Cherry vs Lydell Rhodes, Douglas-Collado 30 Day Weights: Crawford 150.4-Pounds, Postol 145.5-Pounds Bob Arum Details Top Rank's Plans in China Examining the Keith Thurman-Shawn Porter Scorecards Golovkin-Eubank Moves Closer After 'Very Positive' Talks in London Povetkin's Promoter: No Interim-Fight, Wilder Shot By Year's End Thurman-Porter: Highest Barclays Boxing Gate, 2nd Largest Crowd Roach Embraces Pacquiao-Broner: We'd Go For The Knockout! Juan Diaz: Win Over Vazquez Takes Me One Step Closer To Title Terence Crawford Special Debuts on HBO, July 9th Oscar Molina: I'll Come Back From Loss to Jarrett Hurd Froch: If Eubank Faces Golovkin in September - I'd Be Shocked Brook: After Vargas - I Need To Get in There With Keith Thurman! Ivan Baranchyk, Tommy Morrison's Son Win Big in Miami Pablo Cesar Cano-Alfonso Gomez Set For July 15, Gibson is Out Thurman: Porter Isn't Top Two, But He Remains Marquee at 147 Golovkin vs. Eubank: Hearn Aims To Finalize Deal in 48-72 Hours Tommy Langford-Ronny Gabel Set For July 16th in Cardiff Postol, Roach Reflect Back on Knocking Lucas Matthysse Out Frank Warren: Liam Smith Has Very Good Shot To Beat Canelo! Vargas To Kell Brook: I Already Signed, Let's Get This Over With! Thurman Wants To Keep Fighting on Free TV, Not on Pay-Per-View Froch: Golovkin Rejected Terms, I'd Walk Through DeGale in 5 or 6 Casey Ramos Faces Paredes on Top Rank Bill, 7/16 on UniMas Joseph Parker Embraces Anthony Joshua Title Fight For The Fall Mayweather Admits: For The 'Right Price' I Might Come Back! Mikaela Lauren-Klara Svensson Showdown Set For Sept. 10
Advertisement

Latest Active Forum Threads
Advertisement
Advertisement