Saturday Night with the Sons of...
That's why I'm very happy with my Saturday night activity of watching HBO's Saturday Night Boxing special last night. The prelim fight to the Wladmir Klitschko v. Lamon Brewster fight featuring WBC and WBA Welterweight champ, Cory Spinks of East St. Louis and Zab Judah of Brooklyn, NY, stole the show.
This was a particular fight of interest for boxing heads. The two fighter are the sons of....Son of Leon and Son of Yoel....Two years ago, I fawned over the rise of Judah, but my favor has turned on him. Not only did Judah's clowning display two years ago, when he threw a chair at referee Jay Nagy after he was clearly floored and knocked senseless by a much more talented boxer, Kostya Tszyu, but also his penchant for placing himself in the background behind every Tyson press conference lowered my respect for the talented fighter. His consistent whining that he was wronged with Nagy's decision to stop the fight was way off the mark and ridiculous.
I used to like Judah a lot. I bought into the hype his kickboxing/martial arts training, and Black Jewish sect background, and the training methods of his father, Yoel, who was a kickboxing legend. I bought into the SI article wrtten by Gary Smith (you're going to have to find that article on your own), and I bought into the excitement generated by the rap video appearances and boxing conversations that were coming out of New York (Thank you Ed Cota). Regardless of what led me to my hype shopping spree....Over the last two years and before last night's fight, I had sold my respect for the once-rising star of the welterweight brackets of boxing.
However, after Judah's effort against Cory Spinks, I may be forced to buy a little back. Spinks, who had won the welterweight division title against Ricardo Mayorga in the early part of the year, came in with a very impressive run of fights in his bags. He's a very impressive fighter, a precise southpaw puncher, and he has power and commitment with his punches.
Spinks also has a pedigree developed in East St. Louis by living up to the reputation of his heavyweight and 1976 Olympic Gold Medal Champion father and uncle, Leon and Michael Spinks, and he comes from a very troubled past. His mother died at 48. His father Leon has a past that makes any crackhead in America shudder, and Cory's two best friends were murdered in the past year.
So with that background and momentum in Spinks's favor in mind while watching this fight, is why I'm became more impressed with Judah's effort throughout the fight at Mandalay Bay on Saturday night.
Spinks came out and manhandled Judah in the first three rounds. So impressive was Spinks performance that Larry Merchant stated that Spinks looked like a Middleweight fighting a Welterweight. So, what was impressive about Judah....he did not lay down, and he changed up his strategy by going boxing not punching with Spinks.
What was impressive with his course of action was that Judah did not try to power punch with Spinks. Spinks is a power puncher, but he had trouble hanging with Judah's quickness. Judah was able to footwork and quick jabs to gain points on the tightly contested scorecards that are so imporatant in boxing. More importantly, it was clear that Judah was more experienced than Spinks in the ring. Judah knew when to force the action, and when to use his footwork, which helped a tremendous amount with his gains in points throughout the middle rounds.
Despite Judah's surge and just as soon as I found myself giving Judah credit, he left me hanging on the corner after he turned to the crowd and started jawing with fans. The action spurred Spinks, and he gave Judah a solid whupping in the 8th round. That loss of concentration may have shifted the momentum because Spinks began to rebound after that moment, and he later knocked down Judah in the 11th round.
However, after that knockdown is why Judah inched back to favor with me, and why he should be included with the big name welterweights in the big fight draws.
Judah went after Spinks. He came after him with solid left power punches, and he landed a devastating left hand set up by a peppering jab to knock down Spinks in the final :30 of the 12th round. Spinks was very groggy, and if there was a 13th or 14th round, I don't believe he would have made it through either round. Spinks made it out of the 12th, but he was very wobbly when he climbed the ropes with his hands in the air pumping his fist in his bid to influence the politics of summing points on scorecards after fights.
Spinks was rewarded with the unanimous decision, and I am pleased. He is a very good fighter, and he seems to have his head game fairly focused to establish a good run of fights. However, I did expect that Spinks's decision should have been closer. I also agreed with HBO's Harold Ledderman that the fight should have been ruled a draw.
However, Brooklyn fans of Judah should not worry. His bounceback from his slow start and knockdown showed me that this fight may have kept Judah from fading into the background in the Welterweight division. A heavy loss to Spinks could have been devastating to Judah's carreer, but his performance may have pushed up back into promoters' minds for future fight packages.
We should see a rematch down the road for these two fighters. You can't say they're up and coming because they're both already at a high level of boxing. One can only hope that both of them can stay focused in their upcoming fights to meet up again.
However, I still think the class of this division is ....Kostya Tszyu
What's up with Zab entering the ring with SuperCartel performing....Goin' for the convergence thing?
Good to see Leon smiling again,