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Zab Judah faces Joshua Clottey for the welterweight title at Palms Casino Resor

Jul 29, 2008 7:00 PM

Pulling No Punches by Michael Katz | Zab Judah, normally not exactly the cleanest of fighters, would be well advised to stay away from showers if he is to upset many purists and again win a world title this Saturday.

Judah faces the solid Joshua Clottey for the vacant something-or-other (IBF) welterweight title in the Pearl Concert Theater at Palms Casino Resort. This was his consolation prize for blowing a bigger payday May 31 against Sugar Shane Mosley by losing a scuffle with the glass door in the Top Rank Gym shower.

The temper-challenged boxer got in a fight with his father and trainer, Yoel Judah. Zab’s right arm, apparently like his chin, is not much stronger than glass.

Judah needed 50 stitches to close the wound but, if he missed out on a Mosley bout, at least he is fighting for a title now. He is an attractive underdog – as high as +200 (Caesars Palace) for a bout in which he goes in as the more talented all-round boxer.

This is not to advise betting against Clottey, who is about a 5-2 favorite (-250). The latest product of Accra, Ghana, has lost only two starts in his career and led in both. He was disqualified, while well ahead, in 1999 against Carlos Baldomir, the same guy who upset Judah to win the 147-pound championship in 2006.

Clottey’s other loss was on points to Antonio Margarito in 2006, a fight that he started strongly by both outboxing and outspeeding the "Tijuana Tornado," but hurt his hands (in particular his right) and faded the second half of the bout.

Margarito may not be as big a puncher as Judah, and he too was playing with wounded mitts. However, Clottey’s sturdiness marks him as the logical favorite for Saturday’s HBO main event. Still, the ease in which the African was able to land combinations early against Margarito may not be replicated here.

Judah’s speed should negate Clottey’s.

These are two of the leading lights in the well-packed welterweight division and there are big paydays ahead for the winner. Of course, with Judah, losing doesn’t seem to be much of a career deterrent.

Losing to Baldomir, for example, did not shut him out from his appointed rounds with Floyd Mayweather Jr. Getting stopped by Miguel Cotto last year did not stop him from getting back in the mix, first against Mosley, and now against Clottey.

Judah is the puncher in this fight. Remember, he wobbled Cotto in their opening round. But while Clottey might have bad hands, Judah seems to have bad brains. I’m not questioning his intellect, but his ability to concentrate in the ring or showers.

If Judah were Australian, he’d be accused of going on "walkabouts." It happened against Baldomir and he almost blew what appeared to be easy victories over Rafael Pineda and Chop Chop Corley. He had strange interludes of inaction in his loss to Cory Spinks, later avenged spectacularly.

His temper does not help. He went bananas after Referee Jay Nady stopped his bout in the second round with Kostya Tszyu – grabbing the official by the neck and later tossing a corner stool. That drew a suspension and fine in Nevada. He landed an apparently deliberate low blow against Mayweather that touched off a ring riot.

It has been said by the Clottey camp that this is a fight long wanted by the man from Ghana. No surprise. Clottey left Accra for the creature comforts of the Bronx and there are few rivalries greater than Bronx-Brooklyn. The Clottey camp argues that Judah never wanted this matchup, but now he has been backed into a corner to take it.

That is when he is most dangerous. I’m always tempted to give Brooklyn another chance, whether it deserves it or not, but I think I might sit this one out.

There’s always Vic!

There is another example, though not much of one, of dueling dates this Saturday. From the Emerald Casino in Tacoma, Washington, Showtime will televise the superflyweight – or junior bantamweight – matchup for which you haven’t been clamoring.

Vic Darchinyan, the Australia-based Armenian whose exciting southpaw slugging style was exposed and obliterated in five rounds by Nonito Donaire, moves up three pounds to challenge Dimitri Kirilov, a St. Petersburg-based St. Petersburg (Russia) native, for one of the 115-pound trinkets.

This is from the shallow end of a very deep division. The big fight here would be Cristian Mijares against Fernando Montiel. For the record, Darchinyan is about a 9-5 favorite. I’ve never seen his Russian opponent, but have been advised he’s not a bad boxer. Obviously, he’s not much of a puncher, only nine knockouts on a 29-3-1 record.

Just from their nicknames – Darchinyan is another "Raging Bull" while Kirilov is "The Baby" – you have to like the favorite here.

You don’t have to bet him, though.