by Dafydd Thomas
In a fight that has surprisingly gathered as much interest as any other taking place this weekend, Zab Judah (40-6, 27 KO) squares off against Kaizer Mabuza (23-6-3, 14 KO) for a junior welterweight title at the Prudential Centre in Newark, New Jersey.
For Judah, this is the last chance saloon as they call it. In a career that has spiraled downwards since a shock defeat to Carlos Baldomir in 2006, “Super” Judah looks to be back on the straight and narrow following a drop in weight class and a solid win over previously undefeated Lucas Matthysse. Despite edging Matthysse, Judah is still cordoned off at 140 pounds, with the higher ranked names taking no notice of his so-called comeback.
Next to Judah outside the bubble is Kaizer Mabuza, a pressure fighter that has no name value whatsoever. The South African stormed onto the scene with a six round shellacking of Kendall Holt, raising a few eyebrows in the process. A year has passed since his career-best win, and Mabuza’s name has not been mentioned once as an opponent for any top 20 fighter. That might be to do with the fact that the IBF had guaranteed him a title shot and that he didn’t want to risk losing it, but a year of inactivity will make him cruder than usual.
The intrigue in this fight from my point of view is the fact that its win or bust for either fighter. A defeat for Mabuza almost certainly wipes him off anyone in the top 10’s radar, whereas a defeat for Judah will hopefully signal the end of people considering him as a serious force in any division.
A win for either fighter makes them a far more attractive proposition for the top dogs of the division. The winner of this fight doesn’t only take home a title, but plenty more options are on the table too. The risk/reward ratio looks a lot healthier with a title and another win over a fringe top-10 fighter on their record than it did before Saturday night.
Whoever the victor maybe, he becomes relevant in a division that is closing in on crowning a lineal champion this year.