WHEN referee Charlie Fitch pulled Zab Judah out at 1-40 of the 11th round of a 12, it was not clear if the former super-lightweight and unified welterweight world champion intended to box again. But a day later, when it was reported that Judah had been to hospital with a brain bleed, the concern was for more than his career. Fortunately, the show’s promoters, Star Boxing, provided a positive update, stating that he was “awake, communicating and making progress.” On Monday he was released from hospital with Star Boxing saying, “While he will need rest, the prognosis looks promising. We send our warmest wishes to Zab and his family.” But it is safe to say that Zab’s time as a boxer is over.
Going in, it was thought that even at the age of 41, Judah might have enough left to defeat Long Island’s Cletus Seldin – a strong, tough but somewhat limited brawler. But despite training hard for the contest, Judah simply did not have it anymore. It should have come as no surprise, considering Judah was a faded force when losing to Paulie Malignaggi in December 2013 and had only boxed twice since.
While Judah’s physical prowess had diminished, his defiance remained as strong as ever. The moment Mr Fitch called a halt, Judah complained, then stormed out of the ring to his dressing room. Now that we are aware of how precarious Judah’s condition turned out to be, the official’s intervention might have prevented a tragic occurrence.
The fight took its first major turn in the closing seconds of the third, when a right sent Judah reeling into a corner. The bell came to the southpaw’s rescue, but there was no stopping Seldin from then on. Judah would try to diffuse his attacks by frequently holding. Seldin was hurting Zab to the body and easily brushed away his jabs. Judah, from Brooklyn, tried some uppercuts but they had little power behind them.
By the 11th round, Judah was hopelessly behind on points, but looked like he would at least make it to the final bell. Then Seldin connected with a pair of powerful hooks that forced Judah to the ropes. While Seldin was attacking, Mr Fitch stepped in. Knowing what we do now, his stoppage could not have occurred soon enough.
Inside the Turning Stone Resort & Casino, the newest class of International Boxing Hall of Fame inductees were on hand for the weekend’s festivities in nearby Canastota. Among them was James “Buddy” McGirt, whose son, James McGirt Jnr, boxed in the chief support.
The younger McGirt, from Vero Beach, is a capable campaigner but not in his dad’s class. At the end of 12 rounds his contest with David Papot was ruled a split draw. Glenn Feldman had it 117-111 for the Frenchman, while Tom Schreck scored 115-113 for McGirt. John McKaie couldn’t separate them at 114-114. Benjy Estevez Jnr refereed. My card coincided with Schreck’s, but the draw verdict was reasonable. Papot chased his fellow portsider most of the time and McGirt fought tall, moving side to side and jabbing. The best round of the fight was the ninth, when Papot was hurt, but fired back and there were spirited exchanges. By the last two rounds neither had much left.
Rochester, New York southpaw Lavisas Williams, boxing for the first time since February 2016, showed no ring rust in outpointing Italian Mario Alfano over eight fast-paced rounds. At times, Williams’ speed, jab and ability to quickly change directions were extraordinary. Alfano kept forcing the fight, but Williams was able to maintain a strong rhythm, which allowed him to win 77-75 on the card of Don Ackerman, plus 78-74 from both Eric Marlinski and Mr McKaie. Mark Nelson was the third man.
Roberto Duran Jnr, son of the legendary “Hands of Stone”, won a split four-round decision over fellow Floridian Jonathan Pierre. Mr Feldman and Mr Ackerman had it 39-37 to Duran, while Mr Schreck had the same score for Pierre. Mr Fitch officiated. Working Duran’s corner was former two-weight world champion Vinny Pazienza, who had twice boxed his dad.
THE VERDICT Everyone’s support is with Judah.
Cletus Seldin (138 1/4lbs), 24-1 (20), w rsf 11 Zab Judah (138 1/4lbs), 44-10 (30); David Papot (159 1/2lbs), 22-0-1 (3), d pts 12 James McGirt Jnr (156lbs), 27-3-2 (14); Lavisas Williams (131 1/2lbs), 9-1-1 (3), w pts 8 Mario Alfano (131 1/2lbs), 13-0-2 (3); Roberto Duran Jnr (147lbs), 3-0 (2), w pts 4 Jonathan Pierre (146 1/4lbs), 3-1; Wendy Toussaint (152 1/2lbs), 10-0 (4), w pts 6 Lucius Johnson (160lbs), 4-6-1 (3); Eric Abraham (191 1/2lbs), 5-5-1 (4), w rsf 3 Alex Vanasse (190lbs), 4-1 (4); Boubacar Sylla (146 1/2lbs), 10-0 (7), w pts 8 Marquis Hawthorne (145lbs), 7-11 (1).