Zab Judah (40-6, 27 KO’s) was anything but impressive as he had to hang on for dear life to survive 12 rounds with previously unbeaten knockout artist Lucas Matthysse (27-1, 25 KO’s). Judah won a split decision at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ but that verdict was not approved by the 4,127 in attendance who booed and called the decision “Bull*****.”
It was a cautious technical fight until the 10th round. Fans began booing the match in the second round as Judah looked tentative, wary and respectful of the hitting power and body punching of Matthysse.
Matthysse suddenly landed a right to the head which dropped Judah who desperately tried to survive. With his career was on the line, the bloodied Judah showed his champion’s heart and found a way home. But the once-spectacular offensive wizardry of the New Yorker was absent on this night.
Matthysse endured Judah’s best shots – about six to eight of them – and was never hurt in the fight. He was the effective aggressor and pushed hard to finish Judah in the home stretch, but to the Brooklyn man’s credit, he refused to surrender, holding, clinching and backpedaling to avoid the deathblow. In the last three rounds, Matthysse landed many combinations and appeared to be close to scoring the KO but it did not come.
Both gladiators raised their arms at the final bell but clearly, in my eyes, Matthysse was the more impressive performer. After Joe Antonacci read the scorecards – 114-113, 114-113 and 113-114 – Judah looked more relieved than happily triumphant, while Matthysse raised his arms again – Vitali Klitschko-style vs. Lennox Lewis – and mockingly celebrated. But the poor Argentine couldn’t hide his disappointment and frustration – he had boxed the fight of his life, only to see it taken from him by two of the judges.
Though Judah “won”, this fight slightly depreciated his marquee value as an attraction and future champion (he will get an IBF title shot as this was an official eliminator), while Matthysse appreciated as an asset at 140 and is worthy of future HBO or Showtime dates. Judah also deserves credit for lasting the 12 rounds as his previous stamina issues seem to have been fixed.
In a lightweight co-feature, two-division world champion Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero (28-1-1, 18 KO’s) won a 10-round unanimous decision over 2004 Olympian Vicente Escobedo (22-3, 14 KO’s). Guerrero dropped Escobedo in the third and sixth rounds and proceeded to win an entertaining and combative unanimous decision highlighted by a late rally by the courageous Escobedo – 100-88, 98-90, and 96-92.
Former U.S. Olympian Sadam Ali (10-0, 6 KOs) scored a second-round TKO over New Orleans-based, Jeremy Shockey #88 Saints jersey wearing Gary Bergeron (12-8, 7 KO’s) in a welterweight bout. Ali’s professional progress has been impressive and he could be headed to much bigger things.
The most memorable performance of the night was by Adrien Broner (18-0, 15 KOs), a junior lightweight out of Cincinnati. Broner has the look of a future champ as well as the charisma and flamboyance. Broner blew out Miami-based veteran Ilido Julio (40-20-1, 35 KOs) in the first round. After the win I spole with Broner who said he was surprised to spot Roy Jones Jr. sitting at ringside (Roy was working for HBO) and it clearly pumped him up physically and emotionally. The animated Broner said Jones told him he was impressed and the kid was on Cloud Nine. Adrien “The Problem” Broner – remember that name. He is promoted by Golden Boy.
Notes: Spotted in attendance were Tarvis Simms, Al Cole, Harold Knight, Tomasz Adamek, Simon Carr, Monte Barrett, and Glen Tapia. Tapia, who sparred and became friends with Manny Pacquiao at the Pac Man’s Margarito training camp shared many insights about the pound-for-pound #1 which will appear at BoxingInsider.com later this week. Barrett will box on a doubleheader with David Tua in December in Atlantic City and the plan is to make Barrett-Tua II in early 2011.
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