Where Does “Super” Judah Go From Here?

11.06.07 - By David J. Kozlowski: In the elevator leaving the fight at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, the doors opened and a voice said “This is the Zab Judah elevator—going down.” That was the fight in a nutshell. After looking great in the first round, moving to his right and keeping Miguel Cotto off-balance, Zab fell flat. He stopped slipping punches and was hit more frequently. He threw fewer and fewer meaningful shots. When he did catch Cotto, he moved in too quickly and smothered his own punches. And once his eye swelled up, he became a punching bag.

zab judahSo where does Zab go from here? His last four bouts have resulted in three losses and a no-contest. He has shown an amazing inability to fight up to his skill level against top opponents. He had one good round against Cotto, he looked mostly flat against Floyd Mayweather, and his performance against Carlos Baldomir was uninspiring. Zab has talent, he showed it in the first round against Cotto and in momentary flashes of brilliance against Mayweather, but he seldom capitalizes on it. Zab has hands that some say are as quick as Mayweather’s. His footwork can be enough to make top class fighters look ridiculous. It therefore seems strange that Zab’s only big win came in a revenge fight against Cory Spinks; a fight in which Spinks let celebrity go to his head and was consequently off his game. (And note, beating DeMarcus Corley or Terron Millett does not constitute a big win.)

It seems like Zab loses focus once he starts getting hit. Maybe his two-round TKO at the hands of hard-punching Kostya Tszyu early in his career made him overly cautious. Before that fight, only six of his 28 bouts went to a decision, just over 20%. After his pounding by Tszyu, six of twelve, or 50%, went to the cards. While his raw talent allowed him to win most of these fights, the best boxers he’s faced have taken advantage of this flaw.

What Zab needs is a top-flight trainer. He needs Freddie Roach or Emmanuel Steward to make him realize that the best way to avoid getting hit is to hit first. He needs someone in his corner to remind him to keep moving to his right, keep throwing jabs, and to measure his punches when throwing combinations. He has the heart of a champion, always seeming to rise after a knock-down. He has the skills of a champion, with potent offensive weapons and great defense. Unfortunately, he acts like a thug and a bully—only Zab could go into a fight with Mayweather and make Mayweather the good guy. It may be this attitude that keeps top trainers away. That and, well, his dad is his current trainer.

While Zab exhibits tremendous skills, he does not do so against top fighters. Two things can be garnered from Saturday’s fight at the Garden. One, Zab’s first round showed that Cotto may not be ready for Mayweather. And two, the Zab Judah elevator has, for now, reached the ground floor.

Article posted on 12.06.2007

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