ferdiepacheco.com "The Fight Doctor"
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Many years ago I was watching a young Cassius Clay work out at the Fifth Street Gym in Miami Beach. Standing there in amazement were Angelo Dundee, and Bob Martin, the best handicapper of talent in the betting business. He watched a few rounds, turned to us and said:
"Bet this kid 'til he loses." A better thumbnail evaluation has never been given.
It took twenty more years until I saw a fighter in his second professional fight and was able to say the same to my bosses at Univision TV and Showtime TV That kid was Tito Trinidad. He hasn't lost yet.
Now, soon on the heels of my discovery of Trinidad comes another kid full of promise, confident, cocky to the point of arrogance, and again I feel that warm feeling when in the presence of genuine talent. Lou Duva, the general Hall of Fame, said to me:
"This kid, right now, is as good as Pernell Whitaker was at his stage of development. I don't know who could beat this kid."
He was referring to Zab "Super" Judah, and his record of 25-0, 19 KO's bespoke volumes of his promise to reach the level of excellent of Pernell Sweetpea Whitaker.
What I saw that afternoon was all "Flash and Cash": speed and ability to close the show. He boxed like a dream, his defense was Willy Peppish; he seemed impossible to hit. On offense Zab was even better. He rained punches from all angles. His accuracy, his aim, his economy of punches added up to KO. Zab knew how to finish, I arrived doubting I'd ever see another Pernell Whitaker, one per lifetime was enough, and I left convinced that if luck was on his side, Zab Judah would be better that the sparkling Pernell.
So it was with some astonishment that I sat in soggy amazement in a downpour of chilly rain in Glasgow, Scotland. And saw the excellent Zab Judah, who looked absolutely average against a mediocre opponent, Junior Witter, who went the distance in a boring title fight. What a shock! No matter how hard he tried Zab looked hopelessly baffled.
Even the ever-optimistic Lou Duva looked perplexed. His whirlwind had slowed down to a slight ocean breeze. Zab Judah looked awful.
"It happens," I said in consolation, "Joe Louis had his Arturo Godoy, Robinson his Paul Pender, and Ali his Evangalista. It happens." Meanwhile, I noted, Zab won every round in the fights.
Notwithstanding this stumble, I still feel Zab Judah is the next hot attraction in boxing. He must regain his luster when he fights Reggie Green for the IBF Junior Welterweight Championship Saturday January 13 from Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, CT.
Reggie Green is 33-4, 16 KO's from Tuxedo, Maryland and he is a former NABF and International Boxing Council 140 LB champion. Reggie had fought a tough, brave fight in losing to Shambra Mitchell on a 12 round decision in a WBA Super Lightweight Championship fight.
The Boxing betting fraternity make it a 40-1 fight, showing either a highly inflated opinion of the sparkling Zab Judah, or an unfair downplaying of Reggie Green's talents. Be fair: this is not a 40-1 fight.
In my book, it plays out that Zab Judah needs a showcase fight over a respectable fighter, Green, en ex-champion, showed what he was made of when he came off the floor in the first, to push Shambra Mitchell into a 12 round grueling Championship match. Heart and guts he's got.
Green is no ripe fruit to be picked off the vine easily. Zab will have to fight to win, will have to fight hard to look good.
I think this is the right fight at the right time for Zab. It's a mini-cross road fight. Zab has to get back on track to go to super stardom and box office attraction.
If I had advice to give the irrepressible Zab Judah it's this: "Leave the clowning and the shtick outside the ring. Once the bell sounds get down to business. The public doesn't pay money to see a boxer clown. We've got Chris Rock to make us laugh; but he can't fight a lick. And you can't make us laugh. Dazzle us with your speed and superior boxing skills. That is what the public pays the big bucks for."
Bottom line: Zab in a tough fight that ends with Green on the canvas starched.
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