By Mark Vester
At the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, Zab Judah (40-6-2, 27KOs) won a close twelve round split decision over previously undefeated Lucas Matthysse (27-1, 25KOs). The scores were 114-113 for Mattyhsse, 114-113 for Judah, and 114-113 for Judah. Judah will now fight Kaizer Mabuza for the vacant IBF 140-pound title.
The first two rounds had Judah working a jab and trying to land something upstairs. Matthysse was going to the body at times and blocking a lot of punches. The pace was slow. A clash of heads in the third opened up a cut outside of the left eye of Judah. Matthysse did the better work in the third, and in the fourth, as Judah was being too defensive. Judah picked up his pace, just a little, in rounds five and six. The seventh round once again slowed down, but Judah came out with some hard left hand counters in the eight.
Judah continued to box well in the ninth. All of a sudden, Matthysse's power showed up in the tenth round with a right hand on Judah's jaw to score a knockdown. Judah beat the count but he was hurt and did his best holding and defensive work to make it to the bell. At the start of the eleventh, Matthysse came out swinging hard with both hands. Judah was just holding on and trying to survive the storm. Matthysse invested with many bodyshots in the early going. They paid off in the late rounds. The twelfth and final round was a bit more even. Matthysse continued to come forward with combinations as Judah played the defensive role.