Zab Judah More Pretender Than Contender

Not everything is as it appears to be. Time and time again there is truth of this in the sport of boxing. This Saturday on HBO, Zab Judah takes on Lucas Matthysse in a light welterweight bout. Many believe that this is a resurgent Zab Judah. But not everything is as it appears.

Zab Judah is one of the most talented boxers of the last decade. His hand speed is unparalleled. His speed begets his power. He’s as impressive an offensive fighter as you can find. Zab Judah rolled off five consecutive successful light welterweight title defenses before being derailed by future Hall of Famer Kostya Tszyu. It was Judah’s (39-6, 27 KOs) first professional loss. He went on to find success as a welterweight, stopping Cory Spinks in their 2005 rematch.

Entering 2006, Zab was looking to establish himself as a top pound-for-pound fighter and secure big money fights. An upset loss to start the year not only kickstarted the Year of Baldomir, but brought to light many of the motivational issues inherit within Judah. From the company he kept to his lifestyle outside of the ring to his combustable temperament, Zab Judah could no longer rely on talent alone. He lost all the meaningful fights he took since his ’05 win over Cory Spinks.

Zab Judah is now 3-0 over lesser competition since his 2008 loss to Joshua Clottey. And to watch his most recent KO win over Jose Armando Santa Cruz on ESPN2 would lead you to believe the old Zab is back, minus the baggage that knocked him off track years ago. You see, Zab has now found God. If finding God leads him to a better life outside of the ring then good for Zab. But inside the ring, Judah is a 33-year-old trying his hand in a division that is ripe with talent.

Zab Judah’s fight with Lucas Matthysse (27-0, 25 KOs) this Saturday may not be the end of Zab Judah. Matthysse himself has been largely untested. Zab does, however, have a poor history against Argentinians looking to make a name against him. But if Zab is serious about climbing to the top of the 140-pound pedestal, he will need more than God to help him in the ring.

The fight with Matthysse will likely answer one question concerning the rejuvenated Judah: How has his chin held up over the years? Although valiant in defeat, Judah took a lot of damage from Miguel Cotto in 2007. Judah was wobbly on his feet against Clottey. He may not be able to withstand the power of Matthysse, but he may not have to. As evident in the Santa Cruz win, Judah can still stop the fight with one perfectly placed punch.

The blatant truth staring Zab Judah in the face is that he is on the verge of being exposed. If not by Lucas Matthysse, then likely by a top dog at light welterweight looking to cash in on the name value of Zab Judah.

I hope that Zab Judah has found whatever he needs to live a comfortable life outside of the ring. But if Judah, or anyone else, truly believes that Zab is in his prime as a boxer, well…things aren’t always as they seem.

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