Back against the Wall: The Last Stand of Zab Judah

zab judah06.06.07 - By Taj Eubanks: The eyes of the boxing world will be trained on Madison Square Garden this weekend as Miguel Cotto and Zab “Super” Judah match fistic wits in their much-anticipated welterweight bout. And while much ink has been dedicated to the intriguing style matchup between the two--Cotto’s heavy-handed, merciless pressure and Judah’s quicksilver, staccato attack—the real story is what happens AFTER the bout.

Zab Judah’s star has been on the rise for the better part of a decade, a wunderkind whose potential seemed limited only by his desire. Those in the know patted themselves on the back as Judah tore through the junior welterweight ranks, leaving destruction in his wake.

It was understood that greatness for Judah was preordained, and his praises freely sprang forth, one pundit even christening him as the second coming of Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker.

But with success came disappointment, as Zab’s star began a horrible pattern of falling from the heavens with as much regularity as it climbed. Starting with his infamous defeat at the hands of Kostya Tszyu and continuing with equally dismal showings against the likes of Corey Spinks, Carlos Baldomir, and Floyd Mayweather, Jr., it seemed that the only thing consistent about Judah was his inconsistency. Now, at 29 years of age, Zab finds himself at a career crossroads. And in the crosshairs of a man with everything to gain from Judah’s annihilation.

Miguel Cotto stands at the ready to expose Judah as a fighter who has seen better days. Top Rank has invested mightily in the heavily hyped banger from Puerto Rico and appears ready to have its investment mature. Cotto is as much of a can’t-miss prospect as you can find---sterling amateur pedigree and 2000 Olympian, remarkable focus and ability to recover well when hurt, and POWER. Mind-numbing power. Fight-changing power. Career-ending power. Cotto has the power in both hands to not only catapult himself out of the gargantuan shadow of living legend Felix “Tito” Trinidad and into superstardom, but also to bring an unceremonious end to the career of Zab Judah.

Zab, for his part, seems all too aware of the gravity of this fight.

The patience of the boxing public has thinned and the adoration of his fans is no longer unconditional. It is time for Judah to achieve what the field of psychology refers to as actualization, which is the maximization of one’s potential. Potential be damned, Zab must now put up or shut up. The time is now and excuses for another bad performance will likely fall on the deaf ears of fans and promoters alike. Zab Judah’s back is against the wall and, come Saturday night, his guns best be a-blazin.'

Article posted on 07.06.2007

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