By Hans Olson
Zab Judah is back. Zab Judah is back gloriously.
Saturday night at the Prudential Center’s Amerihealth Pavilion, Judah reclaimed the IBF’s version of the Jr. Welterweight title with a 7th round highlight-reel assault on South Africa’s Kaizer Mabuza. When the fight had seemingly begun to favor Mabuza in 6th, Judah answered quickly with shock-and-awe precision in the 7th. Trapped in a neutral corner early, Judah landed a left that separated Mabuza from senses, dangling his stiffened upper half between the ropes. When referee Samuel Viruet allowed Mabuza to continue, Zab fired off a multitude of punches from all angles, eventually forcing the inevitable stoppage. Clearly overjoyed, Judah reveled in his knockout victory. “They know, and everybody at Team Judah know, I’m known for having devastating power!”
Does it even matter how he throws that left hand?
“Whether it comes upper, or whether it comes over, it’s going to do the job!”
And do the job it did.
The win was one of the best in Zab’s career. Judah(41-6), severely out classed Mabuza(23-7-3) early on, putting to good use the defensive tactics that were surely sharpened in training with Pernell Whitaker, who earns his first world title as a trainer. The difference in hand speed was immediately apparent, as was Zab’s ability to make Mabuza miss. For the first few rounds, Zab was unhittable; Mabuza’s attempts at walking down Zab to smother him were neutralized by the crafty veteran’s game plan.
In the 4th, things got interesting. During a confusing sequence, Judah was ruled down when his glove grazed the canvas after a spirited off-balance exchange. The call was delayed; Samuel Viruet giving himself a few moments to correctly score the knockdown. Zab momentarily lost focus and Mabuza capitalized. Surging with confidence, Mabuza finished the round with momentum that carried into the 6th.
In a 6th round that that saw the derailment of Judah continue, Mabuza found his mark and was quickly gaining strength. The matured Zab Judah of 2011 responded in championship fashion the following round. That brutal left, followed by the flurry of punches that came seconds later re-established Zab Judah as a major player in the star-studded Jr. Welterweight ensemble.
The question now is one of certainty.
Will Zab fight the winner of the proposed Bradley/Khan fight in July?
“I’d like to see him fight either one of them before then!” said Kathy Duva of Main Events.
In other action, Tarvis Simms continued his quest for a big fight with a dominating 8-round decision over the game John Mackey; Jose Peralta Alejo scored a bizarre 1st round TKO over Clifford McPherson who seemed to injure his wrist before taking a hard shot that ended the fight; Shemuel Pagan looked sensational with a 1st round obliteration of the over-matched Marcos Garcia; Vinny O’Brien, an all action fan favorite stopped David Navarro who didn’t answer the bell for the 4th, and Chris Crosby got the nod via split decision against Greg Hackett in a competitive opener to the evening.