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Judah: Always a star, never a superstar

Zab Judah, still oozing talent,
embraces one last chance
to win a really big one

It really isn’t fair is it? A guy can have a really solid career, win a couple of belts, knock a few guys out, and pack a few houses, yet still feel somewhat less than satisfied. That’s got to be how Zab Judah feels at this point. His fans probably feel the same way. For all the success Judah has had, for all of the excitement and hype about him early in his career, he just never seemed to be able to win the big one.


  He’s been close. If you could take fractions of a few of his best performances and put them together, he’d be considered an all time great by now. Take the first four rounds against Mayweather, where he cracked straight left hands to Floyd’s face and kept him completely off balance.


     Sprinkle in the first couple of rounds he fought against Cotto, where a thundering uppercut had Cotto seriously wobbled.  Toss in round one of his fight with Kostya Tszyu, where another powerful straight left had Tszyu scrambling around the ring for a bit. Combine all that and you’ve got the ultimate performance, a masterpiece.


The problem? He lost all of those fights, and pretty badly. It’s an issue that has plagued Judah throughout his career. He hasn’t quite been able to put an entire fight together against an A level opponent. Yes, he stopped Cory Spinks, but Spinks, although a champion, was never truly an elite fighter.  He’s been labeled a four round fighter, someone who is extremely dangerous during the first part of the fight, but fades rapidly down the stretch along with his punch output.


        He claims to be a changed fighter. The first true test of that claim will come next Saturday, when he faces Amir Khan on HBO. Khan is one of the rising stars in boxing, a tall, rangy boxer/puncher with extremely fast hands and good power. He isn’t without his own issues; his chin has been under fire ever since he was drilled by Breidis Prescott a couple of years ago. He looked to squelch the “chinny” criticism against monster puncher Marcos Maidana earlier this year, and he did, for the most part. He dominated the early rounds and won a decision, even though he was in fact badly rocked in the last couple of rounds.


Khan is ranked second in the junior welterweight division by The Ring Magazine. He’s improved rapidly under the coaching of legendary trainer Freddie Roach. He also spares pretty intensely with some guy named Manny Pacquiao. Judah, after years of being a welterweight, has moved back into the 140 pound division, where he claims to be stronger and more comfortable. Indeed, Judah never truly seemed like a 147 pound fighter; his once lethal power seemed to be dulled just slightly, and he was the smaller man in nearly every fight he had there.


Judah will still be the smaller man next Saturday, as Khan seems destined, like Victor Ortiz, to move up and become a force in the 147 pound division. Size won’t be the only obstacle for Judah to overcome though. He no longer has youth on his side; he’s a full nine years older than Khan, who is a relative baby in the sport at just 24 years old. Judah’s biggest obstacle on this night however, will be trying to maintain his early energy level for the entire fight. He will of course be as dangerous as he always is when the bell rings. But if the fifth or sixth round comes about and Khan is still in there, what then?

   Khan is clearly susceptible to a big punch and Judah is clearly still capable of delivering it. But can he still bring it in the later rounds without fading? His answer may very well determine his own legacy, as a fighter who overcame a turbulent stretch in his prime by finally winning the big one in his twilight, or a fighter who couldn’t help but wilt under the brightest lights.


More columns
by Lou Catalano

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Sugarless: Can a faded Mosley shock boxing?

Nobody is safe: Marquez latest victim of crazy 2011

Enough is rarely enough for proud fighters like Morales

Lucian Bute might be the best of the super middleweights

Kelly Pavlik re-emerges

Leow, Pavlik ready to make a run at 168







Image by FlamingText.com

Lou Catalano was born in Buffalo, NY. 

He graduated from SUNY Fredonia with a bachelors degree in English.


He is a Bills and Sabres fan, born and raised, and fell in love with boxing as a teenager

after watching Roy Jones wail on poor Vinny Paz.


Lou currently lives outside of Buffalo

with his wife and two sons, and his hobbies include playing sports (Madden and NHL included) and hainging out wiht family and friends.

CLICK HERE to contact Lou Catalano


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