Fight Reports

Zab Judah Survives Late Knockdown, Pulls Out Split Decision

What was supposed to be a showcase bout for Zab Judah nearly turned into a coming out party for Lucas Matthysse, who dropped the Brooklyn fighter and lost an extremely close split decision last Saturday (November 6)...

What was supposed to be a showcase bout for Zab Judah nearly turned into a coming out party for Lucas Matthysse, who dropped the Brooklyn fighter and lost an extremely close split decision last Saturday (November 6).

Judah had a hometown advantage of sorts fighting in Newark, New Jersey’s Prudential Center, the site of his last fight and KO victory over Jose Armando Santa Cruz. But through the first five rounds, Judah had boos rained on him for failing to open up against an opponent viewed as out of his league. The former welterweight champion was content to work the jab and sparingly throw his quick straight left. He was controlling the majority of the rounds, but Matthysse made it competitive by focusing his hooks to the body.

Matthysse began to pick up the pace in round six. His corner wanted him to throw Zab off early by boxing. Now, the young fighter was outworking Judah behind lead hooks to the head and body. Zab tried to reassert himself with short flurries in round seven, but Matthysse was active enough to prevent him from stealing it.

In round eight, Judah backed off Matthysse’s momentum by landing several sharp straights left. But in the ninth, Matthysse came right back by catching Judah with clean right hands. That punch would nearly spell disaster for Judah’s career in the very next round.

In round 10, Lucas Matthysse timed a right hook through a backpedaling Judah’s gloves. The shot took out Judah’s balance, and he cowered to his knees as Matthysse pressed for a follow up.

Here, Judah’s experience paid off. Despite being caught with another hard shot, this time a left hook, Zab Judah was able to hold for the majority of the round. The young Matthysse was too overzealous looking for the KO, and Zab used that to slip punches and tie him up to survive.

The danger remained heightened in the 11th. Matthysse had no respect for Judah’s power, and pressed him the entire round. Anytime Judah tried to stand his ground and trade, he got the worst of it, usually in the form of a right hand to the face.

To his credit, Zab Judah closed strong in the 12th. He moved well and kept Matthysse on the end of his jab. When Matthysse got close, he was clinched before he could launch any significant offense. Both flurried at the end, but it was Judah who controlled the round.

Final scorecard for the bout were razor-thin, awarding Zab Judah the win by split decision: 114-113 Matthysse, and 114-113 twice for Judah.

The match was a title eliminator  for the IBF and WBO belts respectively held by Devon Alexander and Timothy Bradley. But considering Judah’s difficulty with a fighter he was supposed to soundly beat, it’s likely he’ll face at least one more tuneup before challenging for a belt.

One the undercard, Robert Guerrero (28-1-1, 18 KOs) proved too strong and skilled for a game Vicente Escobedo (22-3, 14 KOs). Guerrero scored two knockdowns (rounds three and six), and won a unanimous decision by scores of 100-90, 98-90, and 96-92.


Zab Judah better be thankful Larry Merchant wasn’t in the booth on Saturday. The team of Jim Lampley, Max Kellerman, and Roy Jones did their best to hype up Judah’s performance. They tried to emphasize that Judah was a totally different fighter at 140 instead of 147. What I viewed, and what Larry Merchant would’ve verified, was the same old Zab Judah.

I like Judah, but I know what would happen if he gets fed to any of the 140 beltholders: Amir Khan, Devon Alexander, or Timothy Bradley. Notice I said “fed,” because that’s exactly what it would be, a massacre. Those young guns would have run last Saturday’s Zab Judah out of the ring. I know Kathy Duva, who now promotes Judah under Main Events, saw the same thing and won’t put her fighter anywhere near those guys in the immediate future.

I’ve accepted Judah’s limitations long ago. I hope he can put together a decent win streak, and cash out with one of the title holders by mid or late 2011.

1 comment

  1. Whats up Max, big fan from houston. I agree with alot of your statements, but I don’t understand why the media guys like yourself be adamant about Pacquiao having to fight cotto, berto, alexander, bradley, martinez, etc. It is always pacquiao having to take on somebody, he is fighting every 4 to 6 months while Mayweather is chilling preserving his body! And Max when u talk to Mayweather supporter Teddy Atlas please let him know that Pacman has agreed to blood testing, seems that Teddy is behind or he does not listen, stubborn.. It is Mayweather who is ducking mayweather..

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