By Gary Purfield
The merger between Zab “Super” Judah and former champion now trainer “Sweet Pea” Pernell Whitaker is off to a world title start. Judah punched and moved with all his usual speed and flare but added on was a defensive slickness. For the most part his weaving, circling and head movement kept him from being hit. It also lead to great counter punching opportunities including the final blow.
Judah put an emphatic end on the night in round seven. Backed into the corner with Mabuza pressuring as he had done all night he used what he described later as his double jab and devastating left hand. As Mabuza came in throwing Judah slipped the punch and landed a monster of a straight left that sent Mabuza head first dangling between the ropes.
Mabuza 23-7-33 (14 KO) continued but he was out on his feet. Judah charged in raining punches and the fight was stopped at fifty nine seconds of round seven.
Judah 41-6 (28 KO) regains the IBF junior welterweight title he held earlier in his career. He also places himself right in the thick of one of the hottest divisions in boxing with Amir Khan, Marcos Maidana, and Tim Bradley.
Judah started fast in the first but Mabuza came on in the second. In round four Judah had control including a big left uppercut counter punch in the corner similar to the way he ended the fight. But late in the round a slip aided by a punch from Mabuza caused Judah to touch his glove to the ground and it was ruled a knockdown. Judah became animated over the ruling. The round could easily have been scored only 10-9 for Mabuza as Judah controlled the rest of the round.
In round six Mabuza landed a straight right that stunned Judah who went into survival mode the reminder of the round. Thinking he had Judah hurt Mabuza pursued with even more pressure in round seven. This turned out to be a mistake as it allowed Judah to land the shot that sent Mabuza sprawling and the crowd into a frenzy. Mabuza later credited Judah for his experience and his movement.
Afterwards Judah grabbed a microphone and climbed the ropes to address the crowd. He thanked the fans for supporting him over the years. He further stated that he is a different man than the one he was before.
It was an impressive performance of speed, defense, and power. Mabuza applied pressure and threw hard punches trying to wear Zab down and damage his opponent when he had him cornered. Maybe more impressive than the physical skills was the fact Judah remained calm and stuck to his game plan. When he was cornered he looked for counter opportunities or bobbed and weaved back to the center of the ring.
Going into this fight I looked at this as a great test for Judah physically and mentally. Could he use his skills against a strong pressure fighter and maintain his composure in the rough moments. Zab faced down the rough spots and used them to his advantage. He never strayed from the game plan. Trainer Pernell Whitaker stated at the last press conference defense leads to offense and this philosophy delivered the knockout.
The arena which is the practice facility for the New Jersey Devils NHL hockey squad was configured for a little fewer than 3,000 people and was close to capacity. This was the first card held at the Amerihealth Pavilion which is attached to the Prudential Center where Main Events has hosted large crowds for Tomasz Adamek fights.
In the co-headliner Tarvis Simms took on John Mackey in an eight round middleweight fight. Simms controlled the action throughout and walked away with a wide unanimous decision 78-74, 79-73, and 80-72.
Simms who started in a southpaw stance but switched to orthodox for the majority of the fight easily controlled the first two rounds with solid fundamentals and a variety of punches. Mackey came on in rounds three and four to land some clean shots but never was able to hurt Simms.
Simms again took over late in round five when what was a close round changed with Simms landing several big hooks staggering Mackey at the end of the round. From that point on Simms dominated a bout that got much more crowd friendly in the final four rounds as both fighters looked to land power shots.
Simms (27-1-1 (11 KO) was far more successful as he rained punches on Mackey (13-6-2) (6 KO) from every angle. Give Mackey credit for a good chin and despite being beaten and bloody he never stopped coming and kept fighting.
Simms whose only loss is to Alan Green at Super Middleweight will look to keep fighting in the middleweight division to make one last run at a title.
Jose Peralta originally from the Dominican Republic now living in Jersey City scored a first round knockout over Clifford McPherson of Cleveland Ohio. Peralta landed a body shot near the end of the round that left his opponent writhing on the ground in pain. The official end came at two minutes and forty four seconds of the first round. Peralta moves to 5-1 (3 KO) and McPherson drops to 2-4-1 (1 KO)
Shemuel Pagan moved to 2-0 (1 KO) by making quick work of over matched Marcos Garcia of Camden NJ. Pagan spent a minute feeling out his opponent and then went to work. The Brooklyn product and former amateur stand out Pagan maneuvered his opponent into the corner where he blasted Garcia out who eventually took a knee from the pounding. Garcia got up but was in no condition to continue and the fight was halted at one minute and thirty three seconds of round one.
New Jersey native Vinny O’Brien made his professional debut in an action packed brawl with Philly native David Navarro. O’Brien won by TKO after the fight was stopped prior to round four on the advice of the doctor.
Navarro had upset on the mind early in the first when he landed the jab at will in O’Brien’s face to teach him the Philly stick.
O’Brien 1-0 (1 KO) began taking control late in the first round and never let off the gas. He increased his activity in the second and poured it on in the third with a fierce beating that left Navarro’s face swollen and battered. The doctor made the right call after Navarro was taking a serious beating in that last round. A good debut for O’Brien who showed an aggressive nature and was exciting but he will need to work on his defense as he progresses.
In the opening bout of the evening Zab Judah’s brother Chris Crosby won a split decision over Greg Hackett from Chester PA by scores of 40-36, 39-37, and 37-39. Crosby was able to push Hackett around the ring. Hackett landed some body shots but was also tagged with some strong right hooks from the Brooklyn southpaw Crosby. Crosby moves to 6-1 (1 KO) and Hackett falls to 2-6.
Former US Olympian and rising contender Sadam Ali was scheduled to take a step up in competition but the bout was cancelled due to his opponent Juliano Ramos not passing his physical.
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