There’s an old Chinese proverb that goes, “Even a broken clock is still right twice a day.” Nice proverbial tie in to this week’s column. Stay with me here it isn’t that complicated. While dozens of poets have tried to take credit for this line the author is unknown. What is more fascinating than the quote itself is how many people scratch their heads trying to underscore a hidden meaning. Let’s cut to the chase. Losers can be right once in a blue moon, same as a losing streak.
Ever since the bare knuckle days and Marquis of Queensbury Rules boxing has comeback kids who sometimes enrich the sport with another shot at glory but more often than not lace up the leather again to exchange in fistic mayhem strictly because they are in dire straits and have no other means of supporting themselves.
For every Juan Manuel Marquez who can sit on the fence indefinitely unofficially retired, there are dozens upon dozens of active fighters who have hung up the gloves at least once and continue to look for that one last payday.
Enter Zab Zudah. On January 21st, the 39 year old southpaw from Brownsville Brooklyn made another attempt at one last shot at glory. He has a comfortable net worth of over 5 million so this renaissance can be viewed as a champion’s heart that still wants to compete with the best. That in itself is the very core reason he has a legion of fans. Zab “Super” Judah always seemed to be able to flash his extraordinary skills and hang tough with the elite but somehow never manages to win the “big one.” His recent conquest went by the name of Jorge Luis Munguia who owned a modest record of 12-8, 4 KO’s but just lost his fifth straight fight by TKO at 1:27 of round two in a bout held in New Jersey. Judah’s southpaw stance and hand speed made the bout exactly what it was supposed to be: A glorified sparring session to get the rust off and access his timing, stamina and power.
OK, if you’re in his corner with a clip board put three check marks next to each as he passed the first hurdle with flying colors. Problem is Zab always beats everyone he should beat but tends to miss expectations when evenly matched on paper. His previous last four matches before Munguia, Zab lost to Paulie Malignaggi and Danny Garcia by UD way back in 2013. Previous to that he took out one Vernon Paris in 9 in his only bout of 2012, and was KO’d in 5 by Amir Kahn the year before. If you check over his resume the losses all came to the games top boxers. The one exception was his split decision win over Lucas Matthysse in 2010. His record now stands at 43-9, 30 KO’s.
The good news is Zab has always kept himself in shape. The complete three year layoff which may have garnished rust at least allowed the formally active fighters body to rest and heal from 18 years of ring wars. With the welterweight division stocked with talent there are many avenues to explore without stepping on a proverbial landmine. First up another useful tune up is in order. The type of boxer with limited skills but with the heart and durability to extend Zab ten rounds before seeking a name opponent. Next up he should seek a Jessie Vargas duel by the start of the summer. Vargas has a brand name but is extremely limited and a perfect foil to propel Zab into a fall clash with a rematch perhaps against the likes of Amir Kahn or Danny Garcia, or roll the dice and call out Keith Thurman who would be more than willing to meet Judah in his backyard at Barclays Center in Brooklyn where Thurman has a huge following himself and fights off the electric atmosphere.
The next comeback kid is the flipside of the coin. On April 1st 43 year old Ricardo Mayorga takes his first baby step back into the ring with easy tune up Vs 33 year old Jaudiel Zepeda, a light heavyweight who signed on for bout at 165 pound catch weight. The Mexican fighter owns a modest record of 12-17-1, 9 KO’s. The reason I label this “fight” as a baby step is that Zepeda is 0-14 in his last 16 bouts. “El Matador” Mayorga as he was once known alongside his training habits of smoking and drinking beer is expected to end matters as quickly as Judah did a few days ago.
Mayorga turned pro almost two dozen years ago and has long been considered washed up. After two spectacular wins over highly regarded IBF welterweight champion Vernon “The Viper” Forrest (once by stoppage) he lost title to Cory Spinks. He then went on familiar run of beating third tier fighters but lost to every star he encountered including Felix Trinidad, Oscar De La Hoya, Miguel Cotto and Shane Mosley twice. That second performance was a six round stoppage in 2015 and the last time Mayorga fought.
Should he lose this upcoming bout it will surely be April Fool’s Day. If the bout in Managua Nicaragua produces the desire effect his promoter has already lined up another comeback kid in the guise of Mexican wonder Yori “Boy” Campas who is currently riding a five bout win streak against a collection of boxers you’ve never heard of. His remarkable ledger is a throwback to the golden age of boxing where fighters fought often just to pay the bills. His record stands at 106-17-3 with 81 KO’s resembling the kind of numbers that the legendary Roberto Duran put up if not for the same quality.
Campus has been fighting a staggering thirty years having turned pro in 1987! The 45 year old fighter continues to play for pay inside a boxing ring and at least 13 years removed from his prime. While this match is hardly worth handicapping it will barely make a ripple on the boxing radar and landscape. As a writer, I ponder when enough is enough. Both warriors will pass physicals and make weights but at what cost?
Just around the ringside corner: This weekend January 28th fight fans get treated to two double headers on competing cable giants HBO and Showtime at same programming time.
HBO delivers us Francisco Vargas Vs Miguel Berchelt in a 12 round WBC super featherweight all action brawl. The undercard features 12 featherweight bout between Takashi Miura vs Miguel Roman.
Showtime provides us with Carl Frampton Vs Leo Santa Cruz in a super featherweight rematch for Frampton’s WBA title. They squared off once before this past July to a frenzied MD. The undercard provides a battle of unbeaten fighters when Mikey Garcia squares off against Dejan Zlaticanin who defends his WBC Lightweight title.
This night of little giants is a hard-core fans fantasy and I highly recommend keeping remote in hand to navigate in tandem both double headers. On paper they’re that good.
Quick picks… I smell the blood pouring already and so will Berchelt like a shark in the water. He has all the tools, style, reach and fire power to stop Vargas or win a decision. Berchelt is the underdog but don’t let that fool you. Vargas received too much punishment in his last two bouts against Takashi Miura and Orlando Salido.
Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz once again give us a heated 12 rounder with Frampton winning decision with cleaner more effective punches landed opposed to Cruz’s volume. Mikey Garcia has been installed by Vegas line as a 2/1 favorite. I agree. It will be interesting if he captures the lightweight crown by decision or stoppage of the rugged champion. The only thing stopping Garcia from super stardom was his self-imposed hiatus which he has put behind him with refocused energy.
Last week Angel Garcia the father and trainer of WBC welterweight champion Danny Garcia went on a verbal racist tirade at the Barclay’s Center press conference against unprovoked WBA title belt holder Keith Thurman while announcing their March 4th unification. Yours truly was first to cover and exploit the madness on Ringside Report before the rest of the media ran with story. The WBC Has apologized to its fans and “condemns the foul language, the discriminatory threats and the very dangerous actions which could have led to a riot and personal injuries during this presentation.”
Garcia has been banned from participating in the follow up press conferences attached to this bout but do not have jurisdiction as to who can train a corner. The pressure is on the New York State Athletic Commission to review the filmed debacle and rule on a punishment. I have publicly called for a suspension and fine as there is absolutely no room in boxing for racism.
The February 25th Premiere Boxing Champions card is in jeopardy of losing its main event. VADA, the independent drug testing outfit has notified that random blood and urine samples of heavyweight contender Andrzej Wawrzyk who was to face Deontay Wilder for his WBC strap came up dirty with trace evidence of anabolic steroids. He has been scratched from card with undetermined suspension and fines. The shocking news comes on the heels of bad luck as he was a fill in for previously WBC’S number one contender Alexander Povetkin who also came up dirty for steroid abuse. Some writers are calling on permanent suspensions to rid the sport of the cheaters once and for all.
Stay tuned…Contact the Feature Writers