By Mike Coppinger
Zab Judah, who will look to finally win “the big one” on Saturday against Amir Khan, had to go back to where it all started to get where he is today – Main Events.
Totowa, N.J.-based Main Events promoted the brash southpaw from his pro debut in 1996 through 2001, before Judah bolted for Don King. Last summer, Judah reunited with Main Events and has since realized a career resurgence. To Main Events CEO Kathy Duva, it’s been a tale of two Judahs.
“We had him when he was a young, rebellious, willful teenager, literally. And now he is a grown man,” said Duva. “That’s the simplest way to explain the change. He’s surrendered to the idea that he can’t do everything by himself, he needs a team behind him and he’s accepted that team and he’s accepted the advice of the people on that team. It’s done nothing but propel him forward.
Although the Brooklyn native now living in Vegas is a sizeable underdog heading into Saturday, Duva sounded genuinely confident that her fighter will finally get the monkey off his back in winning a big fight. Judah’s three biggest bouts – against Kostya Tszyu, Floyd Mayweather and Miguel Cotto – have all been losses.
“The weaknesses that he had that caused that to happen have all been remedied,” said Duva. “He certainly was always one of the most talented, gifted fighters that anyone ever saw, I don’t think anyone would dispute that. When he was young and willful, he did not train properly, he did not eat properly. He didn’t go into fights with a battle plan, he just reacted to what the other guy did.
“He does have a game plan now, certainly. He’s training properly, he’s eating properly, he’s getting enough sleep. Running up mountains five miles up and down, he’s not going to tire like he used to. “He has an excellent corner man in [Pernell] Whitaker which has been really to me a revelation. Pernell knows that there is such a thing as training too much, which I think Zab was doing for the [Lucas] Matthysse fight for example.
A win for Judah would of course also be a big win for Main Events, Tomasz Adamek being their only other big name fighter. Duva’s hard work in rejuvenating Judah could pay off this weekend.
“We see a guy who is just as prepared for a fight as anyone we’ve ever seen,” said Duva. “This has fallen into place, this is meant to be and we feel very strongly that he’s going to come out victorious on Saturday night.”
Mike Coppinger is a regular boxing freelancer for USA TODAY and Ring Magazine. He’s a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America, the Ring Ratings Advisory Panel and the Yahoo! Sports Boxing Panel. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeCoppinger.