Sharkie’s Machine: Judah Fought Well but Clottey Fought Better

boxing03.08.08 - By Frank Gonzalez Jr. , photo by Naoki Fukuda - In the battle for the vacant IBF Welterweight title belt at the Palms Casino, in Las Vegas, Zab Judah (36-6, 25 KO’s) fought the IBF’s #1 Contender, Joshua Clottey (35-3, 21 KO’s) in what turned out to be a more competitive fight than expected, since Judah is arguably past his best days, while Clottey is now coming into his own.

It was a competitive fight that saw Judah explode with offense in spots and Clottey showed great defense and counter punching ability. Early on, Judah won some rounds with fast handed combinations and mobility. The midway point saw Clottey stalking Judah, who was starting to show signs of wear.

An uppercut by Clottey in the ninth round started a cut over Judah’s right eye that prompted the referee to call the ringside doctor to check Judah out. Judah told the doctor he couldn’t see. The doctor called a halt to the fight after Judah failed to answer correctly when asked, “How many fingers? (holding up two) Zab said, “Three..

It was a pretty bad gash across the top of his right eye. The cut was officially ruled the result of a head butt, so they went to the score cards. But the instant replay showed that cut was caused by an uppercut landed cleanly by Clottey. The Technical Decision had Clottey winning on all three Judges cards by scores of 87-84 and 86-85 twice.

Congratulations to the new IBF Welterweight champ, Joshua Clottey, who worked hard to get this title and is now a member of a group of title holders at Welterweight that includes Antonio Margarito (WBA), Paul Williams (WBO) and Andre Berto (WBC). After the fight, Clottey said he wanted to fight Berto in a unification bout. Berto is already slated to fight Steve Forbes, who’s not even in the top ten of the Welterweight division. Forbes last outing featured him as Oscar De La Hoya’s sparring partner for 12 rounds that saw Oscar predictably get the nod from the Judges.

It is curious that Zab Judah was given this opportunity to fight for the vacant IBF belt, which was held by Antonio Margarito, who defended it against Kermit Cintron and was subsequently stripped of it prior to fighting Miguel Cotto, due to the politics of the IBF.

Considering that Judah has lost three of his last six fights, which included losses to top level guys like Baldomir, Mayweather and Cotto, there is no rationale for Judah deserving this opportunity. In the span of his last six fights, he has only two wins over two, ‘tune-up caliber’ opponents, Ryan Davis (20-6) and Edwin Vasquez (20-10). But there was Judah with the golden opportunity to win another title if he could beat Joshua Clottey, who may now hold the mantle of, “the man no one wants to fight.”

Judah gave a good showing but ultimately couldn’t take a punch as well as Clottey could and that was the story of this fight.

Clottey’s last six opponents all had winning records, including Antonio Margarito, who Clottey handled nicely until hurting his hand midway through the fight and consequently lost a Unanimous Decision. Clottey is a solid, well rounded boxer with good defense, power and a strong chin. He earned his way to this opportunity and as expected, got the job done against the often reckless and always dangerous, Zab Judah. Regardless of the result, Judah showed a lot of heart and better conditioning in this fight than he has in quite a while.

During the post fight interviews, Clottey was gracious in crediting Judah for his performance. There was no bad blood and definitely respect from both sides, which was refreshing to see after a Judah fight. In the end, Judah refused to acknowledge that it was a punch that caused the cut, saying that Clottey has a history of head butting, etc, etc. Judah will be Judah.

I was impressed with Judah’s performance Saturday night and though he lost yet again to another top fighter, Judah appears to still have a few good fights in him. If he works as hard as he did leading up to this fight, chances are good that he can still remain competitive in one of boxing’s strongest divisions.

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Article posted on 03.08.2008

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