Zab Judah's Last Shot
Brookyln-born Zab Judah has had quite the interesting boxing career. The southpaw remains one of the most recognizable names in the sport, despite not being all that impressive recently. That's probably due to his brash ways and the name he made for himself earlier in his career as a slick, fast, and hard punching phenom. Saturday night, the veteran has perhaps his final shot at glory when he takes on one of the biggest rising stars in boxing, England's Amir Khan in a 140-pound unification bout.
But throughout his career, Judah (41-6, 28 KOs) has never quite been able to reach truly elite status, despite being a five time world champion. Each time he has really stepped up in competition and faced a world class fighter, he has failed. It started in 2001 when as an undefeated young junior welterweight, he faced off against the aging future hall-of-famer Kostya Tszyu. He got dropped in the second round by a right hand, and nobly accepted the defeat by going after the referee and hurling a stool into the ring.
After the Tszyu loss, Judah went just 9-5 in his next 15 fights (including one no contest), and each of his losses came against top talent. He tried against Floyd Mayweather Jr., and lost. He was knocked out by Miguel Cotto and lost a technical decision to Joshua Clottey. Recently, Judah's made a "comeback" of sorts, but hasn't beaten anyone of note, struggling with Lucas Matthysse and getting knocked down by Kaizer Mabuza before rebounding for a knockout win in his last fight. Now comes Khan, who is the most talented fighter Judah has faced since probably Cotto.
Judah and Khan (25-1, 17 KOs) are very similar in the ring; both are known for their exquisite quickness and their questionable chins. In Khan's only career loss, he was shockingly knocked out in the first round by Breidis Prescott at lightweight, leading many to believe he had a glass chin. Now fighting at the 140-pound limit and under the tutelage of top trainer Freddie Roach, Khan appears to be stronger, as evidenced by surviving and winning his last fight against the powerful Marcos Maidana. In the 10th round of the fight, Khan showed an improved chin and toughness, and won a thrilling decision.
Khan finds himself in a similar situation as Judah did when he faced Tszyu in 2001. Khan is the up and coming star with the brightest of futures ahead of him, while Judah has assumed the other role. If Judah can pull off the upset he can cement his legacy as a six-time world champion, and can earn another big payday and a fight perhaps with Manny Pacquiao. But if history has shown us anything, it's that Judah has never quite stepped up to the plate when the stakes have been highest and the talent across the ring from him very high. It will be on Saturday, for sure.
Miguel Cotto vs. Antonio Margarito Set for December 3 at Madison Square Garden: Madison Square Garden is getting a facelift, and the newly renovated building will host it's first fight on Dec. 3 in what should be, if nothing else, a wild and crazy fight and atmosphere. Miguel Cotto will try to exact revenge on Antonio Margarito, who beat Cotto in 2008. But the fight was controversial in that Margarito was later in his career caught with illegal handwraps, and many think he had loaded cloves against Cotto in their 2008 fight.
It was a great idea by Top Rank to put this fight in NYC, where it belongs. Cotto has always been a big draw in the area with his sizable Puerto Rican fanbase. The atmosphere for the fight should be great, with two guys who like to come forward. There likely won't be too many feints or clutching in this one. If you're in the area and want to catch a barnburner in a great atmosphere, this is defintiely a date to circle on the calendar.