Zab Judah and Kostya Tszyu met in 2001 as young champions. This month, the pair met face to face for the first time since their memorable title bout and reconciled in Tszyu’s native Moscow.
Judah arrived in Moscow earlier this month as a special guest to witness Tszyu-trained fighter Khabib Allakhverdiev challenge Kaizer Mabuza tomorrow night.
In their 2001 fight, Judah started fast in round one with blazing combinations that forced Tszyu to hold. Tszyu would rebound in the second behind his signature right hand and scored a hard knockdown late in the round. Judah rose unsteadily and stumbled back to the floor, promptly referee Jay Nady to immediately stop the bout. Judah would become irate; throwing a chair, shoving officials and briefly attempting to choke Nady. Afterward, Tszyu cited Judah’s behavior as the reason he’d never grant him a rematch. Tszyu would keep that vow, retiring in 2005.
Judah holds no grudges and called the meeting one of his signature life achievements in a statement to boxingscene.com
How can I hate a man who gave me the opportunity to take part in such a fight and earn money for my family? I did the same thing for him, so why shouldn’t he love me? We helped each other. I apologized to Kostya for how I acted after our fight. We shook hands and embraced each other as friends. We haven’t seen each other in all this time. This is an absolutely amazing story. Eleven years have passed. And now we meet in Moscow, and what a way to meet. I thought this would be impossible. It was one of the best moments in my life.
11 years ago? The time sure does fly. And here’s Judah, still active while Tszyu’s been gone from active competition for nearly six years. Although a rematch would’ve been nice, I’m hard-pressed to think of any time before Tszyu’s retirement that I’d have favored Zab to win. The 2005 version of Zab that KO’d Spinks in St. Louis versus the Tszyu Hatton took out Manchester would have been the Brooklynite’s best chance at revenge.