MAYWEATHER MAY NOT BE IBF'S CHAMPION AFTER ALL
BY MIKE HOUSER
Appeal Sports Writer
Just when it appeared some order would be restored following Saturday's melee during the Floyd Mayweather-Zab Judah IBF welterweight title fight at the Thomas & Mack Center, in Las Vegas, another monkey wrench has been thrown into the mix.
IBF championships chairman Lindsey Tucker said Monday that Mayweather, who took a 12-round unanimous decision over Judah, may not remain its champion pending the outcome of a hearing Thursday in Las Vegas.
Nevada State Athletic Commission executive director Marc Ratner said Monday that the commission would hold a 10 a.m. hearing Thursday at the State Building in Las Vegas in order to review tapes of the fight, during which Yoel Judah (Zab's father and trainer), Roger Mayweather (Floyd's uncle and trainer), and several other members of both camps entered the ring following a low blow delivered by Judah with under 10 seconds remaining in the 10th round.
Tape of the fight, shown on HBO Pay-Per-View, shows former junior lightweight and junior welterweight titlist Roger Mayweather entering the ring seconds after referee Richard Steele pulled Judah (the IBF titlist) away from a doubled-over Floyd Mayweather following the low blow and a follow-up illegal punch to the back of the head.
Steele let go of Judah to step in the way of Roger, whom he held back from apparently going after Judah. Yoel--a former world champion kickboxer--entered the ring and delivered a right hand to Roger's jaw before he was restrained by Steele.
Several members of both camps, security guards, police and commission members also began to enter the ring.
After Yoel struck Roger, Zab circled around Steele and struck Roger behind the head. Roger then spun around and grabbed Zab around the waist while a Mayweather cornerman (who was outside the ropes) grabbed Zab around the throat from behind.
After the ring was cleared, Roger was escorted from the arena and the fight resumed, with Mayweather (now 36-0 with 24 knockouts) winning the fight and apparently taking the IBF strap from Judah.
But for now, nothing is as it appears.
"We're in the process of getting all of the tapes (of the fight) shown from all different angles," Ratner said. "We're going to watch those tapes as soon as we get them and see who was in the ring and who did what. Roger will appear before us for a disciplinary hearing. Things will be adjudicated at that time."
Don King--Judah's promoter--said Saturday he was going to file an appeal asserting that Judah should remain the beltholder because the 29-year-old Mayweather should have been disqualified when Roger stepped on the ring apron.
Tucker said IBF president Marian Muhammad will attend the hearing Thursday and then choose from several options.
Said Tucker: "We can recognize Mayweather as champion. We can vacate the belt. Zab may keep the title. Or we can order a rematch."
But in an ever thickening plot, Bruce Trampler--matchmaker for Top Rank, Mayweather's promoter--said the IBF may have an agenda of its own.
Trampler said that he had read on a boxing Web site that if Mayweather won and didn't defend his IBF belt against the organization's No. 1 contender--Mark Suarez--in a mandatory defense in his next fight, he'd be stripped of the belt.
"The writing was on the wall," said Trampler, who added he hadn't heard that Muhammad was going to attend the hearing. "It doesn't really matter. (Top Rank president) Bob Arum said Floyd will fight WBO (welterweight titlist) Antonio Margarito next. That would make (the IBF's decision) moot."
Trampler also said there would be no rematch between Mayweather and Judah.
"Floyd was beating the s---out of him," Trampler said. "There's no reason to hold a rematch because of the controversy."
Don King's publicist--Alan Hopper--could not be reached for comment, but Tucker said his understanding of the rules were the same as King's.
"Our policy has been that once somebody comes into the ring, that's an automatic disqualification," Tucker said. "Nevada is an exception. It's the only state I can think of where it's up to the referee (whether he disqualifies the fighter)."
Ratner clarified the rule.
"It's not an automatic disqualification," Ratner said. "In the rulebook it says it's up to the third person in the ring--the referee--whether there's a disqualification."
Ratner said Steele called a timeout and was going to give Mayweather up to five minutes to recover from the low blow, but he was besieged before he could do so. Ratner also said Steele claimed he was out of position and didn't see the illegal rabbit punch.
Both fighters' purses are being withheld until after the hearing. Mayweather, a former junior lightweight, lightweight and junior welterweight champion, was due to earn a reported $5 million for the fight.
It's not the first time the 28-year-old Judah, 34-4 (25) and one-contest, has been involved in controversy. After referee Jay Nady stopped Judah's Nov. 3, 2001, fight with Kostya Tszyu, the 5-foot-7 Judah attacked Nady, pushing his glove into the 6-4 referee's throat.
Nady had stopped the junior welterweight unification title fight after Tszyu had decked Judah, who rose, staggered around and fell down again. Judah also threw a stool in Nady's direction and was subsequently fined $75,000 and suspended for six months by the NSAC.
"The police did a marvelous job," Ratner said of the instant intervention by authorities. "So did (ring announcer) Michael Buffer. He kept everybody calm. He told everyone to stay in their seats and that everything was under control."
It was coincidental that World Wrestling Entertainment president Vince McMahon was ringside during the melee.
"I didn't speak with him after the fight," Ratner said, "but he probably enjoyed what he'd call a 'run-in.'"