Zab Judah; The Long Road
By Rob Scott (May 15, 2005) 
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It’s a long road to a world championship. Some travel this road to reach the end with nothing to show for it. Many fighters are boxing’s versions of Patrick Ewing and Karl Malone; where the talent is there, but their end is a disappointing case of ‘close but no cigar’. Even still, anyone who reaches championship status will tell you that the road to the title is a hard one, but staying on top is even yet a tougher task.

Zab ‘Super’ Judah is the Undisputed Welterweight Champion. Make no mistake about it; he is on top of the world. This accomplishment wasn’t an easy undertaking; and having held the IBF and WBO Jr. Welterweight championships in the past, Judah is one who should know how hard it is to maintain championship laurels.

This Saturday night Judah, 33-2-1 (24), makes the first defense of his undisputed title against the #1 ranked IBF mandatory contender Cosme Rivera, 28-7-2 (20), of Mexico. The bout takes place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada as part of a big HBO pay-per-view card headlined by Felix ‘Tito’ Trinidad vs. Ronald ‘Winky’ Wright in a WBC title eliminator.

It’s a case of changing from the hunter to the hunted. Judah is now the hunted with all the top welterweights aiming to pounce on their prey. Judah will tell those fighters in a split second to bring it on, but the part where Judah can go wrong is misjudging the best and who may be the best. Fights with the ‘Golden Boy’ Oscar DeLaHoya and “Sugar’ Shane Mosley is what Judah seeks for fortune and fame, but only preparing for the lion and his threat can leave you susceptible to the wolf. Fighters like Cosme Rivera may not be the subliminal King of the jungle, but he is hungry like that overlooked wolf.

Don’t let the seven losses on his record fool you; Rivera will come to fight this Saturday. He will not only come to fight, but he will come to win. Will he win? Really, Judah’s approach will determine that. An on point, and more over, focused Judah can and will win the fight. A focus and rededication is why he was able to exercise demons and defeat Corey Spinks and become the undisputed champion. Reversions in his way of thinking will not only make this Judah’s first defense, but possibly his last. 

It’s been said before, “If a person becomes a student of his own past, the mistakes of the past shouldn’t be repeated in the future”. If this is a true statement, an eventual rematch with Kostya Tszyu should be one which the same careless mistakes made by Judah in the first fight won’t be repeated. The student in Judah should help him maintain his focus to put on a better showing. I suspect that same focus won’t just happen with Tszyu, but with all the other elite fighters as well. 
The problem just may be too many fighters lose focus by looking too far ahead in the future. DeLaHoya, Tszyu, Mosley and even Antonio Margarito won’t even be in Judah’s future if he doesn’t concentrate on the present. The present is Cosme Rivera and Judah had better believe that come Saturday night, Rivera’s full concentration will be on him and his undisputed title.

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