Judah - Mayweather: I'm Madder Than Hell

16.02.06 - By Paul Ruby - - In a song called ďSimple Man,Ē Charlie Daniels sang ďIím madder than hell, and I ainít gonna take it no more.Ē That line epitomizes the way I feel about the April 8th bout between Zab Judah and Floyd Mayweather. Iím disgusted that Judah could let himself get beaten by Carlos Baldomir in his own hometown. Iím disgusted that Mayweather defended the bout by contending that Judah is entitled to fight him because Judah/Baldomir was a split decision.

Iím disgusted that the fight is for a tainted IBF belt for which Carlos Baldomir could not afford to pay the sanctioning fee. Iím disgusted that HBO is selling this as a pay-per-view event and as a title fight. Iím disgusted by the arguments of promoters and pundits that Judah was not focused against Baldomir, but guarantee that he will be on April 8th. Iím disgusted by what sham title fights like these do for the public image of boxing (and how they underscore the need for a national commission, but thatís for another day altogether).

But, mostly, Iím disgusted with Zab Judah for losing to Carlos Baldomir, and I have two conclusions. First, that Zab Judah is not physically talented enough to become a great champion. Second, that Zab Judah lacks the emotional maturity to become a great champion.

I believe that both fans and experts have drastically over-rated Judahís skills in the ring. Zab Judah has fast hands and he is an exceptional athlete, but there is much more to boxing than that. Judah lacks the fundamental skills and techniques necessary to become an elite boxer. First, I question Judahís conditioning. Admittedly, he looks to be in perfect shape when he enters the ring and he never has problems with weight. The problem is he too often fights only in spurts. This was painfully obvious against Baldomir. The tough, but limited Argentine kept coming forward and throwing punches, while Judah was content to let himself be bullied around by an older, slower foe. Additionally, Judah gives up his hand-speed by holding his opponents far too often, rather than working in close quarters or seeking separation.

I also question Judahís instincts in the ring. Too often fans see his sensational speed Ė which is among the best in the business Ė and forget that rounds are not judged on speed, but rather on clean punching, effective aggressiveness, ring generalship, and defense. Judahís game is predicated on looking flashy Ė not on winning rounds that have been scored properly. Against Baldomir, Judah showed that he could not figure out when rounds were close and try to do something to pull them out in the last 30 seconds. For that reason, I think that Judah is too often looking for a knockout and refuses to acknowledge that even the greatest fighters cannot knock out every foe they seek to conquer. Essentially, I strongly believe Judah is a better athlete than he is a boxer. Even without his mental frailties, I tend to doubt that he could be a truly elite fighter because he lacks the technique and instincts needed to reach that level.

More importantly, I believe Zab Judah will never have the mental toughness necessary to become a great fighter. Before we speak about Judah specifically, it may be appropriate to comment on his surroundings. I believe that Judah has hurt his career by letting his father train him. Yoel Judah instilled his own values in his son and, in my humble opinion, they are not the values of a champion. The most telling sign of Yoel Judahís shortcomings is his quote to the Showtime crew prior to the Baldomir fight. The older Judah stated that they did not plan on the fight exceeding three rounds. That one quote summarizes all of my opinion of both Judahs. Any trainer that trains champions Ė Freddie Roach, Dan Birmingham, Buddy McGirt take your pick Ė teaches his fighters not to look for a knockout, but be content to take a decision. Knockout predictions should be left to guys like you and me on our couches and to people like Al Berstein, Larry Merchant, and other journalists; they should not be made by trainers. Yoel Judahís quote shows the hubris that was his sonís downfall. Yoel Judah seems not to adhere to the philosophy among boxers and trainers that a champion should prepare to go 12 rounds in every fight. Judging by Yoel Judahís attitude, it cannot be considered a surprise that pride and a bloated self-concept would be traits he passed on to his son and, for that reason, part of me pities Zab Judah.

The larger part of me, however, does not feel nearly as compassionate. Judahís three most important fights have all been unequivocal failures. When he fought Kostya Tszyu, he said it was a ďwinner take allĒ fight. In that fight, he showed the immaturity and arrogance in the ring that are arguably his trademark. In that fight, Judah was knocked down and, rather than taking an 8 count to collect himself, he tried to get up at 3, stumbled, toppled over again, and forced referee Jay Nady to correctly stop the fight in the 2nd round. In his first fight with Cory Spinks, Judah essentially gave away the first five rounds of the fight and dug a hole out of which he could not pull himself.

Against Carlos Baldomir, Zab Judah embarrassed himself before, during, and after the fight with mental errors. During referee Arthur Mercante, Jr.ís instructions, Judah punched Baldomir on the thigh instead of touching gloves with him. That was a move that even a 4-year-old should be ashamed of. It was literally despicable and Judah and everyone associated with him should feel beyond humiliated for such immature and irresponsible actions. During the fight, Judah fought only in spurts and seemed content to let Baldomir punch him in the face en route to a well-deserved decision. After the fight, Judah embarrassed himself by failing to take ownership of his actions in the ring. He was quick to blame others like his promoter, quick to look everywhere but directly in the mirror.

For those reasons, I believe too many have overestimated Judah. A champion not only reacts to adversity, he thrives on it. Zab Judah has crumbled in the face of adversity time and again, and now he is being handed a money-making fight against Floyd Mayweather. Like a champion, Mayweather will prepare properly. He will get in the ring, do his job, and win with a TKO 5 victory.

Thatís the difference between Mayweather and Judah. I donít agree with Mayweatherís views, but he gets in the ring and does his job every single time. He trains hard. He doesnít look past opponents, doesnít expected to be handed things. He has physical and mental toughness that nearly all others lack. He has the physical and mental toughness that Zab Judah lacks.

Floyd Mayweather will beat Zab Judah for the IBF Welterweight Championship on April 8th on HBO pay-per-view, but it will be a tainted fight that should not cost $50 and it will be for a tainted belt that should sit around Carlos Baldomirís waist. And thatís why Iím madder than hell.

Questions? Comments?

Article posted on 17.02.2006

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