NEW YORK – Zab Judah once again staved off irrelevancy.
He has done it time and again when left for dead in his 15-plus-year boxing career.
Many pundits picked Vernon Paris to defeat Judah and effectively end his career, but the 34-year-old from Brooklyn with nine lives pulled out yet another surprise, dominating Paris en route to a ninth-round TKO at the Aviator Sports Complex in Brooklyn, N.Y, part of NBC Sports Network’s Fight Night series.
As the Brooklynite’s first professional fight in his native borough, it was a homecoming for Judah and he made the most of it.
Judah (42-7, 29 knockouts) came out firing in the opening stanza, landing some debilitating shots on the 24-year-old from Detroit. He almost had Paris (26-1, 15 knockouts) down, but “The Iceman” showed a good chin, bouncing back to land some power shots of his own.
Round two was more of the same, with Judah coming out very aggressive. He had Paris reeling again, a dominant round two.
Judah, THE RING’s No. 6 junior welterweight, gained confidence, landing shots at will and opening up with three and four punch combinations. Paris looked gassed, mouth agape.
Paris, rated No. 10 by THE RING at 140, landed a very low blow in round three, apparently frustrated by the pace of the fight.
In round four, Judah began to tee off, ripping shots to the body and head, bullying Paris and dictating the pace.
In the eighth, Judah was teeing off again, pushing Paris to the ropes and targeting the body.
At the very beginning of the ninth, Judah stung Paris with a combination, staggering him to the corner. Judah sensed the moment and emptied his clip, unleashing power shots until referee Steve Willis halted the bout at 2:27 of round nine.
“Our game plan was to not get sloppy and unload combinations,” said Judah. “I went in there and executed. They call me old, but I respect the old comments, that means longevity to me. I’m getting better. We put together a spectacular plan against a young undefeated fighter.
“I felt like I was fighting on home turf again. My thing was to not go in there and get wild. I wanted to dictate the pace. He was throwing wild shots, that wasn’t going to work. I’ve been in with [Floyd] Mayweather, one of the best fighters out there. I’ve been in with Mickey Ward, one of the toughest fighters. He was tailor-made for me.”
The win made Judah the mandatory for the IBF champion – the winner of the May 19th match between Amir Khan and Lamont Peterson. Judah would relish the opportunity to exact revenge on Khan or take on his good friend Peterson.
“I want to fight the best opposition that boxing provides,” said Judah. “He was saying a lot of filthy words [during the fight], he tried to talk me out of the game. That wasn’t going to work. I didn’t let none of that bother me, I just took it to him round after round.”
The win had special meaning for Judah, who was promoted by Don King for years. He was able to put the first blemish on Paris, a Don King-promoted fighter, stating “It was kinda cool to get the old man back for once.
Judah out-landed Paris 123 to 77 in power shots – 61 percent to 34 percent.
“What you saw tonight is what happens when a matchmaker makes the fight, rather than a reporter,” said Kathy Duva of Main Events, Judah’s promoter. “What you saw was three tremendous fights. Zab Judah just reclaimed his place, he’s back, he’s here, he’s Zab. Styles make fights. I think it was clear Zab was going to have to this guy to the deep waters and drown him and he did just that.”
Paris had no jab to speak of, unable to disrupt Judah’s rhythm throughout. The sizeable speed advantage coupled with Judah’s experience were too much to overcome for Paris, who will have to go back to the drawing board after suffering his first pro defeat.
For Judah, he once again has rejuvenated his career.
On the televised undercard, heavyweight contender Tomasz Adamek (45-2, 28 knockouts) began his comeback after his one-sided stoppage loss to Vitali Klitschko in September, dominating journeyman Nagy Aguilera (17-8, 12 knockouts) over 10 rounds.
Scores were 99-01, 100-90 and 100-90 for the 35-year-old Polish fighter.
Adamek, THE RING’s No. 3 heavyweight, landed some great shots but was unable to put Aguilera down. In the fifth round, Adamek hurt Aguilera, but the 25-year-old Dominican rallied to stop Adamek in his tracks, hurting his foe. Adamek took control of the fight after round five, though, cruising to a unanimous decision.
Adamek hurt both hands badly, putting them on ice long after the bout.
In the opening fight, Bryant Jennings authored the biggest win of his short career, stopping former heavyweight beltholder Sergei Liakhovich in the ninth round in the opening fight of the telecast. Jennings (13-0, 6 knockouts) was in control from the opening bell, winging power combinations and landing at will on Liakhovich (25-5, 16 knockouts).
The 23-year-old Philadelphian opened up nasty gashes over Liakhovich’s nose and left eye, making his face a crimson mask. In the ninth round, the 35-year-old from Belarus took a beating, causing the referee to stop the fight on the advice of the doctor after the conclusion of the round.
Jennings out-landed Liakhovich in power shots, 58 percent to 36 percent. Jennings is certainly one of America’s best heavyweight prospects now with his second win in 2012, the previous win also coming on NBC Sports Network – a victory over Maurice Byarm.