BOXING: Judah wins junior welterweight crown
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) – The idea all along was for Zab Judah to wait patiently for the eighth round, conserving his energy for a late run at another world title.
It turns out he didn’t even need the eighth round.
The former undisputed welterweight champion knocked out Kaizer Mabuza early in the seventh Saturday night, regaining the IBF junior welterweight title he first held more than a decade ago.
Judah immediately ran to his corner and leaped onto the ropes at the Prudential Center as a large contingent of fans who made their way from his home borough of Brooklyn – including former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson – rose to their feet and cheered.
“I promised Jesus I would not mess around,” Judah said, “and I delivered on that promise.”
He also delivered on the promise he made to Pernell Whitaker, the Hall of Famer who joined his training camp prior to this fight. Whitaker was intent on teaching Judah some defense, and wanted him to stay behind his jab through the first two-thirds of the fight.
By then, according to their plan, Mabuza would be exhausted and Judah would be able to land that famous uppercut that carried him to the IBF belt for the first time in 2000 – and a closet full of other title trinkets after that.
“Mabuza was a tough guy. I don’t want to disrespect him at all,” Judah said. “I could have gotten wild a little sooner and really gotten after him, but I told Pernell I would go to the eighth with my jab, stay composed and use my jab to open up my offense.”
Judah (41-6, 28 KOs) sure found some offense, landing a devastating straight left early in the seventh round. Mabuza fell halfway through the ropes in the corner and referee Sam Viruet gave him a standing count before allowing the fight to continue.
It was a questionable move by Viruet because Mabuza was still plenty woozy. Judah pounced right away and landed several more blows that finally put the South African out on his feet.
“I feel very, very bad, but it obviously was not meant for me to be tonight,” Mabuza said. “I really think this is about my lack of fighting experienced fighters. I think Zab had the advantage because he’s fought many, many good fighters.”