By William Holmes
True boxing fans are in for a treat on March 24th. Perennial contender and five time world champ Zab Judah makes his homecoming as he takes on undefeated prospect Vernon Paris on the NBC Sports Network. It is truly a high risk, low reward fight, but a fighter like Judah has always fought the toughest competition, so this should come as no surprise.
On March 6th, Zab Judah and his promoter Kathy Duva held a media conference call to take questions and talk about Judah’s upcoming bout with Vernon Paris.
Below are some of the highlights from the conference call:
Zab Judah: I’m feeling great, good afternoon everybody, I had a great training camp and great preparation for this event. I’m looking to come here and fulfill my fantasy and our dream to become a six time champ of the world.
Q: What are you expecting from Paris?
ZJ: I’m expecting him to come in and there and do what he’s done for the past 26 fights.
Q: Are you still training with Sweet Pea?
ZJ: Pernell Whitaker is family, he will always be with us. Training is going great, we have a tremendous training camp and a lot of young undefeated professionals that I am sparring with, some tough guys, some good boxers, and I’m preparing myself as if I’m preparing for one of the greatest fighters on earth.
Q: How does it feel to be fighting Brooklyn since you’re from Brooklyn?
ZJ: This is a great deal, and a great opportunity, because this is the first time that I’ll be fighting Brooklyn, and it’s the first time that I will be fighting in Brooklyn as a professional. It’s a great feeling, and I think the last time I fought in Brooklyn, NY was in Golden Gloves.
Q: Where do you feel like you’re at, at this stage of your career?
ZJ: Yeah, I still feel great. I think the prominent respect that I deserve as a fighter will be given back at this fight to come. I understand that everybody was a little upset at the last outing, but there are some things that are out of your control, but we will go in there and bring back Zab Judah of old.
I feel like superman, like how superman always be changing in the booth, and he came out of the booth and he became superman again, so this Zab Judah all over again, I’m going back to my roots, Brooklyn NY, and when I come out of the booth it will be flying colors again.
Q: Are you still comfortable at 140?
ZJ: Yes, 140 is the weight class that I feel great at that I make very easily. I’m still a fighter that can go out and eat a filet mignon burger and still make 140 pounds. This is my solid natural weight and I don’t plan on leaving no more.
Q: What do you think went wrong against Amir Khan and what do you do to avoid anything like that happening again?
ZJ: It was a couple of things, but you know I don’t care to look backwards, moving forward in life, all positivity….a couple of things we sharpened up on and we are ready to go. My team is strong and we are ready to go.
Q: What are your thoughts on some of the things that Paris has said?
ZJ: It shows that Paris as a person, the things that come out of your mouth, evidently that is his character. It’s kind of funny because I remember being in that kind of a position before, I was what Paris is tryting to be. I was that kid once, the trash talker, the loud mouth…but it don’t pay the bills. March 24th is a boxing match, and that’s the only thing at a hand that should count for anything. It’s going to be a 12 round fight, and I’m fighting a fighter that’s never been past 8 rounds ever in his career. I’ve been 12 rounds numerous times with some of the top fighters in the world today.
Q: Is this fight more important than the last fight?
ZJ: Well….people are questioning me. Amir Khan was a fighter, people have to remember in that Amir Khan fight I was a champion of the world myself. Just last July I was a champion of the world. Now I’m coming back to rightfully get back what’s mine. Vernon Paris means the same thing as Amir Khan. Unfortunately that fight got cut short.
Q: Does the fact that people are trying to make a name off of you mean anything to you in this fight?
ZJ: Well anybody that knows me knows winning means more to me than anything. I could care less who it is, just that Zab Judah steps in there and being the best Zab Judah that Zab can be. These guys that would rather beat a fighter like Zab Judah than winning a world title, I understand that, but like I said, I’m excited again, I’m feeling like I’m 22 years old again.
Q: What can you do to expose this young fighter and take him where he’s never been?
ZJ: A lot, if you watch the great Bernard Hopkins, he’s done it time after time. George Foreman has shown the world he can do it. I’m not comparing myself to these guys age wise, but those guys are another decade older than myself…I’m 34 years of age, it’s funny how they call you old at 34 years of age. I don’t understand what’s old, I think that everybody that’s old in the game of boxing is great. Bob Arum is an old promoter he’s doing great, Don King is an old promoter he’s doing great, Main Events is an old company, they’ve been around for a long time, they’re doing great.
Kathy Duva: Thanks for not calling me old Zab!
ZJ: You know what I’m saying, what’s old…old is experience and experience is great. Vernon Paris is going into a depth of water he’s never ever swam and he’ s going to find out there is no bottom.
Q: How much longer do you believe that you can remain at this level, this fight seems to be a high risk low reward situation.
ZJ: You gotta understand what this fight brings, this fight is a number one eliminator fight and get me back into a position of where I should be and where I need to be at the stage of the game that I’m in. This is not a pick fight, I did not pick this fight to take in, if anybody else had been in this position they would have been in this opportunity. They put themselves in this position, and we are going to take full advantage of it.
If you look at the whole team of 96, of myself, Antonio Tarver and Floyd Mayweather, we are probably the only three that are still rolling strong. I feel blessed in a sense.
Q: If you could choose any of your losses to avenge, which loss would you choose?
ZJ: I would take the loss, of just not being mentally prepared, and physically prepared for some of these bouts that I put myself into. I played the mental game with myself, that’s the fight I’d go back and fight.
Q: What have you done differently to prepare yourself mentally for Vernon Paris?
ZJ: It’s not just Vernon Paris, you gotta understand, he’s the fighter at hand. It could be any fighter in the same situation. It’s not about Vernon Paris, it’s about Zab Judah being the best Zab Judah he can be.
Q: Anything about Vernon Paris that gives you concern?
ZJ: Hopefully he shows up! I say this respectfully to the game of boxing, Vernon Paris is coming to Brooklyn City, NY. My fans are my fans, New York City is New York City, you have to respect everywhere that you go. You can’t disrespect or bad mouth anywhere that you go and just expect to walk out there plain and calm. I love Detroit, I represented Detroit, I fought in the Tyson/Gollotta undercard, I defended my world title in Detroit, I have a lot of friends in Detroit and I love Detroit. I don’t want anyone to say that this is a Detroit vs. Brooklyn fight, because it’s totally not. The only one that is thinking something like this is Vernon Paris, and his weak minded crew. At the same time, all that I ask the young man is to come in here and prepare for a boxing match. Come here and give respect and respect will be given back. Understand, that you are going through Brooklyn, NY, you can’t come here with disprespect.
Q: Do you still have the same fire in your belly for this?
ZJ: Oh yeah…my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has re-lit my fire, my fire is back, my hunger is there…I feel like Jesus was when he was there at the mountain top forty days and forty nights with no food or water and this is how I am going into this fight.
Q: Did you learn anything from the Khan fight, any changes you made since then?
ZJ: I learned I had more patience. I know not to do things to offset things. I could have went bananas once the ref stopped the fight. I could have done that and take it back to 2000 again, but that’s not my forte. It’s a blessing to be in the situation where I’m at. I was stopped on a low blow, and I’m back fighting for the number one spot for the IBF belt again.
Q: A lot of guys didn’t believe it was a low blow at the last fight, and believe you were looking for a way out, do you take offense to that?
ZJ: Of course! How can somebody say what me and my testicles are going through. It kind of hurts your feelings, because people are saying that wasn’t a low blow you got hit with a body shot. A body shot? Me! Come on…my body was tremendous it was hard as a brick.. So one body shot, Amir Khan is no knockout puncher that can stop someone with a body shot. It was a low shot that jammed the cup right into my testicles.
I hate going backwards and trying to explain, but everybody that knows me knows I have a heart like a lion. They used to say he has too much heart, he’s too wild, and now they’re saying he’s soft. You’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t, but come March 24th you’re going to see Zab Judah and I’ll do what I do best.
The fire is lit, my airline tickets are ready, my hotel is booked, Brooklyn is ready….this is going to be great. That’s all I can say, this is going to be great.
Kathy Duva: We are in a small room here, but there are still some tickets left, they either have to call Main Events at 973-200-7050 or log onto peltzboxing.com and they can order them online.
ZJ: Just note that the greatness about the fight, we’re probably going to have just as much people outside as we do inside. We might have to put a big screen outside so everybody can go there and watch the fight.