'Call Em Out Fridays': Zab Judah - Out of Sight, Nearly Out of Time
By Vivek Wallace - This weeks 'Call Em Out Fridays' places a very familiar name under the microscope. For years, this individual has been remained at the center of the sport, literally, as his talent equips him with enough tools to do right, but limited discipline has reduced him to having little left. In the early days of Zab 'Super' Judah, few saw such a conundrum happening. Floyd Mayweather jr. is widely viewed by most as perhaps the most fundamentally talented of this era, but when both men began their rise in the sport, the odds on favorite to earn such an accolade was none other than Judah, as his speed and talent contained the ultimate cherry on top, in the form of a tough to decipher southpaw style. Approximately 3 weeks separated the professional debut of the two men, but as time passed, the difference became more and more evident by the day.
Article posted on 23.10.2009
How good would Zab Judah be with more discipline? How good would Zab Judah be with more dedication? The operative word in each of those questions is more, and the unfortunate challenge is that despite knowing those things could use enhancements, the skilled southpaw has consistently shown less if you listen to the recent cry from his critics.. To dislike his personality and Brooklynite swagga is one thing, but few can deny the talent Judah truly possessed in the beginning. Somewhere beyond that point, things began to change. Among the many questions that surround him, one in particular provides an answer that few saw coming at the time. That question ..... when did things for the talented Zab Judah go wrong? The answer ..... The day he entered the ring against a man he apparently felt was not on his level - Kostya Tszyu. Despite previously defeating a list of opponents to include Mickey Ward, a veteran Darryl Tyson, and the U.K.'s Junior Witter, by the end of the night, Judah would learn that his opponent was not only on his level, but perhaps a considerable distance beyond, as Tszyu would KO him inside of 2 rounds, which removed the veil invincibility that once surrounded him. A once seemingly composed personality unraveled right before our eyes, as Judah went ballistic by attacking the referee that stopped the fight, veteran Jay Nady. From that point to current, the career of Judah has evolved in a very uncertain fashion, filled with a few highs, many lows, and a ton of nobody-knows (questions). The loss to Tszyu led many to question his chin, but despite the reputation, it wasn't until he met bruisin' Puerto Rican Miguel Cotto some 6 years later that he would encounter that unlucky KO fate once again, and to date, only the powerful Joshua Clottey has joined the company of Tszyu and Cotto.
Supporters of Judah have pointed to size related issues, subsequently pointing to the possibility of the talented southpaw considering a move down to jr. welterweight, and considering the fact that the division now contains holds claim to being arguably the deepest in the sport, perhaps that isn't a bad move. Timothy Bradley, Amir Khan, Maidana, and others would all have their hands full trying to square off against Mr. Judah, but anyone within earshot of his critics knows full well that even those competitors stand a chance to bring the Z-train to a screeching halt, as well. Perhaps Team Judah should assess the lesser of all evils, because although there is a chance for collateral damage, the fact that the welterweight ranks contain the likes of the Margarito's, Mosley's, Cotto's and Clottey's of the world means there's no question that Judah's best odds come a few pounds lighter. At one point we heard some rumbling about Judah squaring off against Berto, but that fight didn't happen. Prior to that, we heard the rumblings about a showdown between Judah and Shane Mosley, but Shane's ex-wife-to-be, Jin, can be thanked for watching that one slip through the cracks and never come back! Despite the 6 losses suffered and the many questions which surround him, there's no second-guessing that Judah can still find his way back to contention in the sport. Or can he?
Critics find great issue with the 9 lives bestowed within the industry to Judah every time you think his window of opportunity has closed, but the Glen Johnson's and Carlos Baldomir's of the world have not only tested those theories, but consistently broken them, despite neither man having the pure talent that Judah possess. Fundamentals are well necessary, but the proper combination of discipline and heart seem to push a man without them (fundamentals) a few yards farther. While some fighters have used either fundamentals or the combination of discipline and heart to get closer to that imaginary goal line, in the case of Judah, we learn that only the one with all three will actually ever cross it. At only age 31, Judah's slippage has led some to feel his fundamentals aren't the same, and his heart and discipline level to many still remain off par. In metaphoric terms, just like in the sport of baseball, those three strikes would mean he's out! With his career hanging in the balance and nearly no time left on the clock, hopefully, rather than baseball, Judah will adopt the strategy of another type of 'baller' by connecting on all three from the baseline before his final buzzer! Stay tuned.
(Vivek Wallace can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 954-292-7346, Youtube (VIVEK1251), Twitter (VIVEK747), www.vivekwallace.com, Facebook and Myspace).
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