In his most recent outing, Zab “Super” Judah, 40-6, 27 KO’s, made his second fight debut of the year by going up against Argentine fighter, Lucas Martin Matthysse.
With color commentary provided at the opening of the bout by Roy Jones, JR., he stated honestly that Judah “got rid of the bling and now dedicated himself to God.” As Judah demonstrated in the split decision victory, he’s back, he’s focused, but yes, I’ll be the first to say, he’s still got a lot of work to do.
The bout was for the WBO – NABO Light Welterweight title. There were a couple of things that proved Judah is still in championship form, but the victory was also accompanied by some improvements he must make.
Should Judah return and stay in the light welterweight division, he is not without competitive company. In fact, Judah does have the focus. But still, he cannot take the division lightly. Here are some areas of improvements and potential matchups for Judah to consider on his somewhat long road back to championship form.
Against Matthysse, Judah showed that he needs to put the fight away early. He had a commanding lead through the first 6 round. He needed to establish that he was the more experienced fighter, taking chances, and putting together combinations as a southpaw can make an orthodox fighter look awkward. His corner wasn’t exactly worried and from the opening round, Judah did what he was supposed to, including measuring his lesser known opponent in order to find his range. But in doing so, Judah started to take his winning rounds for granted.
Additionally, Judah’s corner perhaps did one thing. They underestimated the strength and brawling ability of Matthysse.
As the fight continued, Judah started to look a little weary. Matthysse continued to press forward, took a few hits from Judah, and from rounds 7 and on, Lederman even started to give a round or two to Matthysse. The lesser known Matthysse continued to fight and he didn’t back down once. Matthysse reminded me of another fighter – Edwin Valero.
Matthysse went forward, took some risks to get Judah to exchange. And then I saw his record, 25 KO’s out of 27 fights. He had been undefeated prior to his bout to Judah. Even as much as I look critically at a fighter’s undefeated record, it’s still something not to be taken lightly. I think Judah and his corner really did underestimate that their champion just might have fight on his hands.
Finally, it happened, Judah went down in the 10th round, and suddenly, the fight is a fight and Judah had to take the fight and convince the judges. Finally, as the 12th round ended and the split decision determined the fight to go to Judah, I’m sure that he wasn’t the only one sweating. The score cards read were as follows: Joseph Pasquale 113-114; Hilton Whitaker 113-114; and Waleska Roldan 114-113. Yes, a victory is a victory. But to at the top of the division, there is no room for a point in a split decision.
Judah needed to take the fight and let the judges know he is in it to win it.
Among light welterweights, Judah is currently ranked 19th. As I previously mentioned, he’s got a little more fighting to do. Judah must continue to focus. As a former champion and as long as he remains focused, the boxers in the upper ranks might consider giving themselves and Judah the opportunity for a matchup for a title belt.
I’ll start with two of the division’s best fighters.
Both Timothy “Desert Storm” Bradley, 26-0, 11 KO’s and Devon Alexander, 21-0, 13 KO’s are set to fight one another in January 2011. Alexander is the current IBF and WBC Light Welterweight titleholder. Bradley is the current titleholder for the WBO Light Welterweight belt. Should Bradley win the bout, the WBC belt will then become vacant. Since it rarely happens, it’s really great to see that two titleholders within the division fight one another.
Even more at stake, both Bradley and Alexander have undefeated records. I give credit for each fighter putting their records and title belts on the line to give one another the competitive and prestigious occasion to put it all at risk and become the somewhat undisputed champion of the division.
Meanwhile, Amir Khan, 23-1, 17 KO’s, currently ranked #2 in the division, will face the 4th ranked Marcos Rene Maidana, 29-1, 27 KO’s for the WBA World Light Welterweight division in December. So, we can only guess that depending on the winners of these two key matches, Judah may have some people to fight in the future.
So, for Judah, ranked #19, he has a lot of fighting to in order to work his way back up. He is, as Jones JR pointed out, focused, but again, he needs to continue to be focused and take all his bouts seriously. Until he gets the nod from the current titleholders of the light welterweight belts, he’ll continue on, and can only do so with a clear and focused path towards the top of the ranks. Judah is on solid footing now. He’s concentrating on boxing. And the only thing he should really focus on now is his next fight. There is no room for him to take advantage of his past greatness.
Judah must take his time and create his opportunity for redemption and rebirth. Let’s just hope he’ll stay strong enough within the division and stick around for a while. As the top four champions of the division fight one another, there will be two winners and two losers.
And, for Judah, there will be no shortage of competition to fight now and in the future.