By Keith Idec
NEW YORK — Vernon Paris promised he was ready to take a significant step up in class against former champion Zab Judah. He wasn’t. Judah, stopped the previously unbeaten Paris in the ninth round of a 12-round IBF junior welterweight elimination match Judah was winning easily on Saturday at Aviaton Sports & Events Center in Judah’s native Brooklyn. The convincing victory earned Judah, already a two-time IBF 140-pound champion, another shot at that title by moving him into the No. 1 spot in the East Orange sanctioning organization’s rankings.
“Like I said going into this fight, I knew my experience would take over,” Judah said. “He fought 23 of his  fights in his hometown, his backyard. His biggest fight [before] today was Tim Coleman, who was just stopped in two rounds last week by Kendall Holt.”
The 34-year-old Judah (42-7, 29 KOs, 2 NC) was way ahead on the scorecards when referee Steve Willis stepped in to stop the fight, which was televised as the main event of an NBC Sports Network tripleheader. Two judges scored Judah the winner of each of the eight completed rounds (80-72, 80-72) and a third judge credited Judah with winning seven of the first eight rounds (79-73).
Judah hurt Detroit’s Paris (26-1, 15 KOs, 3 NC) with a straight left hand in the first round, but couldn’t put Paris away in that round. Paris didn’t appear truly hurt again until Judah drilled him with another straight left early in the ninth round. This time, Judah unloaded a barrage of power punches on a defenseless Paris, which prompted Willis to halt the action at the 27-second mark of the ninth round.
“I never really got off a good one [on him], because he was kind of getting out of the way,” Judah said. “He was in survival mode. In the first or second round, I cracked him with a good, hard shot. And from there, he just stayed away. He was ducking and he was turning in a weird way, so I couldn’t really nail him good.”
Nevertheless, the win was rewarding for Judah, who didn’t appreciate Paris’ disrespectful approach to promoting their fight. Paris, 24, called Judah “washed up” and “a coward,” and said Judah should’ve retired after his poor performance in his previous fight, a fifth-round knockout loss to England’s Amir Khan (25-2, 20 KOs) on July 23 in Las Vegas.
Paris continued talking trash during their bout, but Judah didn’t let it affect him.
“He was using a lot of filthy words, saying a lot of foul-mouthed things, trying to talk me out of my game,” Judah said. “Once he saw I wasn’t going to stop coming at him, he tried to talk me out of my game. That didn’t work. Yeah, he’s from Detroit, a tough city. I’m also from Brooklyn, which is very, very, very, very tough. Anything he could try to do to me, the tricks, I’ve seen it all. I didn’t let none of that bother me and I just took it to him, round after round.”
Lamont Peterson (30-1-1, 15 KOs) owns the IBF junior welterweight title, but he has a rematch scheduled against Khan on May 19 in Las Vegas. If Khan wins, it is unlikely he’ll fight Judah again because he dominated Judah during their unification fight by fifth-round knockout July 23 in Las Vegas.
“If [Peterson] should beat Amir Khan, Lamont is a great friend of mine,” Judah said, but added, “if that should be the case, we’ll go in there and do what we’ve got to do. … If Khan beats Peterson again, I would hope I get my just due respect. That rematch, if it should present itself, this time the real Zab Judah will show up. I’ll be looking to get in there and be very dominant.”