And the new IBF Junior Welterweight Champ is… Zab Judah! On March 5th in Newark, New Jersey, Zab “Super” Judah was able to stop South African Kaizer Mabuza to claim a belt he hold a decade ago. Zab has always been followed by a lot of doubt and speculation on his heart, conditioning, and true desire to return to the upper tier of boxing. With a beautiful finish to a very defensive based performance, Zab Judah has proven that he can still hang at the top with the best.
In his past two fights, Zab has fought two great, but unknown, junior welterweights. Zab struggled with Lucas Matthyse but escaped with a split decision victory, setting him up for a showdown with Mabuza. Due to an illegally submitted purse bid by Mabuza’s promoter, Main Events was able to win the purse bid on a very low price of $50,000. Mabuza has a fighter’s heart and determination by traveling overseas to his opponent’s home turf (several times) for no more than $25,000.
The night began in the AmeriHealth Pavilion, the New Jersey Devils practice arena. After a few local area fighters performed before a the North Jersey and New York dominant crowd, Judah and Mabuza took the ring. Judah looked ready and in shape. This was not his first time fighting for a title. Mabuza’s face was stone cold, ready for business as this was his first time fighting for a major title. He was the bigger man and looked in as good of shape as Judah.
The story was the same for the first six rounds. Judah moved, slipped, dodged and ducked punches while throwing little in return. Mabuza stalked Judah, knocked him off balance, in which Judah’s glove touched the canvas that was counting as a knockdown and later in the sixth seemed to hurt Judah. Many were waiting for Zab to get in gear and started letting his hands go on the slowly tiring, but unrelenting Mabuza.
It happened early into the seventh round which began the same as the first six. Mabuza went after Judah who avoided the majority of the punches. As Judah backed into a corner, Mabuza continued to punch and began switching stances, from southpaw to orthodox. As he seemed to be in the middle of a switch, Mabuza was squared up and open. Judah threw a beautiful left straight right on the button. Mabuza’s arms dropped as he bent over at the waist and stumbled into the ropes. As he gathered himself, he looked over to his corner and acknowledged the situation. Before he knew it, the count was over and Judah unleashed fury of blows, eventually catching Mabuza clean causing the ref to stop the fight. Judah is excellent at finishing an opponent once he smells blood. Before the finishing onslaught, I could’ve sworn I heard the voice from Mortal Kombat yell “Finish Him” as Mabuza wobbled back and forth.
Although Judah may still have doubters, those uncertainties should be whether or not he will unify the belts and become the undisputed champion. Any worries of Judah’s heart, conditioning, previous outlandish behavior have all be silenced. Judah is a born again Christian, a devoted father, family man and friend who has shown that he is serious about his return to the top.
In a previous article, I mentioned how well I thought Judah and Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker would work. This is only the beginning. Judah is again the champ, with a new attitude, a new team member and is ready to take on the top recognizable names in the division.