By Jake Donovan
Vernon “Iceman” Paris had no problem accepting short money in pursuit of his long-term goal.
The unbeaten 140 lb. contender signed his contract Monday evening, agreeing to terms for a 12-round title eliminator with former three-time champion Zab Judah.
The bout will take place March 24 at the Aviator Arena in Brooklyn, NY. NBC Sports will televise.
“I just signed on the dotted line,” Paris (26-0, 15KO) told Boxingscene.com. “I’m getting ready to do my thing against Zab Judah. Same way I got Tim (Coleman, whom Paris knocked out in the 7th round last summer), I’m going to get to Zab as well. After that, I’m looking at Lamont Peterson.”
The winner of the fight becomes the mandatory challenger to Peterson, who won two belts in his 12-round split decision victory over Amir Khan last month in Washington D.C.
A hearing is scheduled for this week to determine whether the IBF – who ordered the eliminator between Judah and Paris – will follow the lead of the WBA in forcing a Peterson-Khan rematch.
Main Events won the rights to promote this fight, with a winning submission of $70,110 in last month’s purse bid, considerably more than the $50,000 bid put in by Don King, with whom Paris signed last year. As per the terms of the purse bid, Paris as the #2 contender is entitled to 40% of the purse, which comes out to just over $28,000.
The money – or the location – is of little importance to Paris, who sees the forest from the trees and knows what comes down the road with a win in March.
“It don’t matter where we fight,” Paris, who grew up in Detroit, said of traveling to Judah’s old Brooklyn stomping grounds. “I’ve fought everywhere, in the ring, on playgrounds. I knocked somebody out in a Brooklyn playground once. This time it will be official after I break down Zab.”
That said, Paris’ side was offered the assurance of neutrality in terms of ringside officials.
“From my understanding it will be IBF judges, and not hometown judges,” informed Paris. “We’ll make sure the referee isn’t from around the corner and grew up with Zab, like that mess that happened in the Peterson-Khan fight.”
Paris enjoyed a breakthrough win last summer in climbing off of the canvas to thrice drop Coleman en route to stopping his longtime bitter rival in the 7th round of their ESPN2-televised bout. The fight was one of just three in 29 career pro fights that took place outside of the Midwest region.
This will be his first sanctioned pro fight in the New York, though an opportunity he’s anxious for, given what’s at stake.
“I want to be a world champion this year,” Paris insists. “Not five years from now, but this year. I respect Zab and all he's accomplished, but he's had his time. I have my goals and he's in the way of that. If going to his hometown gets me to where I need to go, then so be it. I ain’t got a fear in the world of going to Brooklyn and knocking Zab’s ass out.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected]