Zab Judah Makes Successful Return to 140 Pounds With Win Over Santa Cruz

July 16, 2010

With a devastating left uppercut to the chin of his charging opponent, Zab Judah floored Jose Armando Santa Cruz on his way to a third round stoppage victory Friday night in Newark, New Jersey.

For Judah, the win formally announced his return to the junior welterweight division and breathed new life into a boxing career that had recently grown stagnant.

Judah entered the fight with numerous question marks, having lost 4 of his last 7 bouts to fighters such as Joshua Clottey and Miguel Cotto. As a result, the 32-year old Judah stood little chance of landing another big fight with an elite welterweight. Worse yet, his game had become stale, with few, if any, new wrinkles added to his arsenal over the years.

So to his credit, Judah assessed his plight, switched promoters, dropped down to junior welterweight, and added another trainer in his corner in Eddie Mustafa Muhammad.

On Friday, the results of those moves spoke volumes.

In the first round, Judah started off well and immediately seized control, tripling up on his right jab and staying out of harm's way with good lateral movement. By the end of Round One, it was obvious that Judah was the faster man in the ring.

Round Two proved to be another lopsided round in Judah's favor, as the native of Planet Brooklyn again proved to be the busier of the two fighters. Judah displayed a willingness to let his hands go throughout the round, at one point unleashing back-to-back 4-punch combinations on Santa Cruz.

Perhaps sensing that he needed to change the momentum of the fight, Santa Cruz came out more aggressively in Round Three. Unfortunately for Santa Cruz, he walked straight into a vicious left uppercut on the chin from Judah and immediately crumpled to the canvas.

After Santa Cruz rose to his feet, Judah quickly pounced, unleashing a barrage of blows that forced referee Benjy Estevez to halt the action at 2:33 into Round Three.

Judah, a southpaw, improved to 39-6 (27 KO's) with the win, while Santa Cruz dropped to 28-5.

What We Learned From This Fight

Despite campaigning at welterweight for the past several years, Zab Judah proved that he still is capable of making weight and excelling at 140 pounds. More importantly, he looked a guy who was fighting in his natural weight class.

Unlike so many other fighters who try to go down in weight late in their careers, Judah did not appear to be drained or lethargic.

Instead, he bounced around the ring with good lateral movement, snapping his jab and rattling off fluid combinations. Not only did Judah display his trademark fast hands, but he also showed some good pop, particularly at this weight class.

Judah is a "name" fighter with a large East Coast following who in one night demonstrated that even at age 32, he can still put on a thrilling performance.

Because of those attributes, Judah has now put himself in line to fight some of the top names in the division, including Timothy Bradley.

By Mike Elliott
Staff Editor for

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