28.02.06 – By Kirk Lang: The Floyd Mayweather, Jr. – Zab Judah fight (no longer a mega-fight) should not take place any time soon. Allowing Judah to still face Mayweather, boxing’s pound-for-pound best, in April following a disappointing January 7 loss to unheralded Carlos Baldomir, will set a bad precedent that world champion fighters can give sub-par efforts in tune-up fights and still get a shot at the big prize in their next outing.
Why the rush to make Mayweather-Judah happen? Judah just lost his last fight. It’s not like he’s only a winning streak. Judah was on a hot streak after defeating Cory Spinks for the undisputed welterweight title last year. That hot streak, that career upswing, is over for now. Sure Judah underestimated Baldomir and perhaps under-trained, but the general rule in boxing is, if you lose a tune-up fight, your pre-planned mega-fight against so-and-so a few months later goes up in smoke. While promoters seem to be looking for the immediate buck, a Mayweather-Judah fight will be bigger if Judah gets a couple of good wins under his belt and the bout takes place farther down the road.
If Mayweather defeats Judah in April, everyone will say, “Big deal, Carlos Baldomir just accomplished the feat earlier this year.”
Baldomir-Mayweather is the fight that should be taking place in April. Mayweather should be giving Baldomir a payday and Baldomir should be giving Mayweather a shot at his WBC 147-pound championship. However, Baldomir, according to “Pretty Boy,” priced himself out of a meeting with Mayweather.
Mayweather will challenge Judah for his IBF trinket. Unfortunately, Baldomir is the real champ at welterweight. He beat the man who beat the man who beat the mean and so on and so on. Judah only still holds a belt because Baldomir decided not to pay a sanctioning fee to the IBF, so in essence, Judah remains a champion by default. It would be one thing if Judah-Baldomir was a non-title fight, with no belts at all on the line, but it was a title fight and all the belts should have been on the line.
Baldomir deserves some criticism for not paying to fight for all of Judah’s belts. Judah, or any undisputed champion for that matter, doesn’t deserve to remain a champion (of any organization) if they lost a title fight. It goes against the natural laws of boxing.
Baldomir faced undisputed champion Judah in a title fight and defeated him. In a perfect world, Judah should be belt-less. Judah, who only remains a champion because Baldomir didn’t want to cough up the money to win all three belts, may defeat Mayweather. But he needs to be at the absolute top of his game. The version of Zab Judah that we almost saw lose to the ancient Rafael Pineda in 2004 can’t show up in the ring against Mayweather. A focused Judah may give Mayweather his first official defeat. Judah has the skills, power and definitely the speed, to give Mayweather some trouble. “Pretty Boy” has always been able to rely on his superior hand speed against his opponents. Judah however, has a great deal of speed himself.
But Judah will not defeat Mayweather if he shows up at less than 100 percent. Perhaps never before has a fighter with so much potential, so much talent, so much natural ability, suffered three losses before he was out of his 20s. You can’t blame Judah too much for his first defeat, a second round knockout loss to Kostya Tszyu. He was knocked out with a great shot. But Judah’s second and third losses could have been avoided. His first fight against Spinks might have been a win instead of a loss if Judah had done less posturing and more fighting. Judah’s upset loss to Baldomir also could have been avoided (although Zab will tell you he deserved to win) if he hadn’t thought a win was pre-ordained. Judah blamed his promoter, Don King, when the decision didn’t go his way. Judah apparently hasn’t learned a boxer needs to win the majority of the rounds in a 12-round fight to get a decision, something he didn’t do against Baldomir.
Zab Judah has a lot of God-given talent. Maybe Judah will defeat Mayweather, maybe he won’t, but whatever the outcome, it won’t be a disappointing one if Judah gives it his all in training camp and in the ring.
[editor’s note: While this column may seem a little harsh on Judah, Judah has been one of this writer’s favorite fighters for years.]