By Kirk Jackson
TKO victory over undefeated junior welterweight prospect Vernon Paris. The victory puts Judah in a position to challenge the winner of the Amir Khan and Lamont Peterson IBF championship rematch taking place later in May 19th at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Coincidently, while Judah was taking care of business against Paris in his hometown in Brooklyn, New York, the young up and coming Danny Garcia was winning his first title against the aging Mexican Legend Erik Morales at the Reliant Arena in Houston, Texas. Garcia won a unanimous decision over Morales, capturing the WBC Junior Welterweight belt. I bring up Garcia because even though Judah may be in line to face the winner of Khan and Peterson, Garcia is the best option for him.
Although Garcia was victorious and the judges’ scorecards may suggest otherwise, Garcia did not look too impressive against Morales as the fight was close in not only my view, but with many other spectators including the HBO crew. Aside from a few dominant rounds, like the 4th and a few of the later rounds, Morales controlled the fight. Morales was jabbing, moving around, essentially taking the younger, less experienced fighter to school. Many of Garcia’s punches were too wide, not accurate and his defense was not up to par. I believe one of the HBO commentators commented on Garcia in his previous fight against Kendall Holt, saying he had, “Skills and defense like Floyd Mayweather.” The rounds Garcia was able to win, he won simply because of activity and a higher punch output, which is something he should have being the younger fighter.
Morales is much more a reformed fighter compared to his younger days, relying on timing, technique and experience to win fights as opposed to relying on his always durable chin, punching power and aggressiveness to destroy opponents back in the lower divisions years ago. But even still, Morales is not a master boxer. He is 35 years old, couldn’t even make weight for this fight and had life and death his last two fights against Marcos Maidana and Pablo Cesar Cano. Struggling against Maidana is understandable; Maidana is a powerful force who overwhelms most opponents and is tough as nails. But struggling against Cano? The unknown contender put it on Morales, and based on that and other factors such as weight issues, age and overall accumulation of damage sustained in all his wars, Garcia should have blown through Morales.
Morales may have had the better career, and is probably regarded by most fans and media as the better fighter when comparing accomplishments, style wise, Judah would give Garcia problems. Even at this stage in his career, Judah has great hand speed, power and good reflexes. The change in his corner is paying dividends; Judah looks more relaxed and measured in the ring. Also add in Judah is a south paw; I think he presents a puzzle for Garcia that he won’t be able to solve and with Garcia’s lack of defense I can envision a stoppage.
This works for Judah because his chances of winning against Garcia are significantly greater than if he were to fight Khan or Peterson. Khan’s speed and reach will always present problems for Judah, and Peterson’s reach, ability to fight on the outside as well as in the trenches, body punching, tough mentality, could potentially give Judah nightmares. Khan and Peterson also have more experience than Garcia. Win a fight against Garcia, Judah would be fighting a young champion, pick up a belt, can stay relevant while potentially building up an even bigger fight with Khan again or Peterson if he chooses to.
Also over the weekend, we lost long time boxing historian Bert Sugar. While I did not agree with most of his opinions or analysis in recent years, he was a treasure to the sport and his accomplishments have inspired many people involved in journalism and in boxing. Rest in peace.