Business & Friendship: The Compelling Situation Between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Zab Judah

12.08.05 - By Chris Acosta: When I was about fifteen years old, my best friend and I got into a fistfight for reasons I can't even remember. It was an awkward situation because it was something so completely unbelievable and really tested the bonds of our friendship. Even now, I can't imagine how I could possibly have wanted to beat up such a cool person. The thought of getting violent with anyone close to me makes my stomach turn.

Unless someone was paying me a few million to do it.

Yes, I am no different from most people by admitting that my loyalty to the almighty dollar will forever be locked in a perilous struggle with my morality. It's true you can't buy love but neither can you buy beautiful materialism with saintly ethics..

Floyd Mayweather Jr. is said to be moving up to fight undisputed Jr. Middleweight king Winky Wright. It has all the nostalgia of what were once referred to as "catchweight" bouts where the smaller man simply fought at his natural weight, laced 'em up and then hoped for the best. The problem is that throughout history, this has ended up being downright bad for the guy moving up. It might not seem so preposterous against someone like Javier Castillejo, but even still, for fighter under middleweight, several pounds can mean a vast difference.

Hey Floyd, pound for pound ruler and maker of all things that look easy, what about Zab Judah? Seven pounds north and another seven pounds south of probable embarrassment, the undisputed welterweight champion, and close friend of yours, awaits. And he's been calling you out too. In a recent interview with KO Magazine, Judah called Mayweather's reluctance to arrange such a bout, "b*llshit" and that they should do it not only for themselves but also for the sport.

For fans who have been getting spoiled lately by a nice run of good, competitive bouts at the world class level, this super fight fits in very nicely. Judah is much closer to Mayweather's size and is perhaps the one guy out there who won't be giving away speed, Floyd's X-factor. Winky Wright? Forget it. He's far too big, looking more like a natural middleweight and
besides, he wants that prestigious Middleweight belt more than the challenge of a guy who can't raise his stock in victory.

From a fans perspective, "Super Judah" and "Pretty Boy Floyd" in the same ring is about as highly anticipated as it gets. The most intriguing aspect to top shelf bouts are those in which each combatant shares the same unique gift. For years we've seen both of these guys flaunt the same obscene speed advantage over their hapless foes to the point that you start to scratch your head and wonder if the Big Guy upstairs was feeling overly generous in his blessings. How will each man react to seeing punches coming in as fast as they are leaving? Defensively, Floyd is better and he is a better counter puncher. His opponents often appear like mice trying to snatch cheese from a trap that springs shut on them time and time again. If Mayweather is sneaky opportunism, then Judah is more heat-seeking missile. Zab is not as smooth but when he wants to turn on the heat, there's not a whole hell of a lot anyone can do about it.

Even in the first round of his fight with then- undisputed champ Kostya Tszyu, Judah had the pony-tailed Aussie assassin looking confused from the sheer velocity of his attack. Of course we all know that his inexperience showed up as well as it just not being his time yet in the form of one thudding right hand, but since then Judah has gained valuable experience and confidence.

DeMarcus Corley has fought both and fought reasonably well. He was floored by Judah in the third and managed to last the full route but appeared reluctant to open up (a common symptom of facing a faster boxer). Against Mayweather, "Chop Chop" was much more aggressive, managing to stagger his man in the midst of several rapid exchanges. Eventually, Corley began to wear down, however, going down from a prolonged combination late in the fight before losing a clear decision. Does this commonality tell us anything? Not enough to make any predictions but on the surface it may be safe to say that Judah is definitely the harder puncher and his southpaw style gives his speed an unusual dimension.

Is it that southpaw stance that has Mayweather concerned? I'm not knocking Floyd for his accomplishments are many and they are well-deserved but it's difficult to shake the problems he had versus Corley, solely because of that backwards fighting posture. Does he worry that it make take a few rounds to acclimate to Judah, fully aware that Zab might not be in the mood to give him any time to do so?

In the immediate moment, neither man truly needs the other. After all, Judah has Antonio Margarito, Shane Mosely and maybe even Oscar De La Hoya. Mayweather has too many choices to mention in that unfathomable depth of a division, the jr. Welters. But for boxing, it's a want more than that need. It's a special attraction that pits two criminally gifted athletes together at the peak of their powers, and that's something to put friendship aside for- and a few million dollars.

Article posted on 12.08.2005

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