by Tim Harrison
Showtime Championship Boxing is back again this Saturday with a junior welterweight title fight between reigning WBA/WBC champion Danny “Swift” Garcia (25-0, 16 KOs) and Zab “Super” Judah (42-7, 29 KOs), the former junior welterweight and welterweight undisputed champion. The fights begin at 9 PM ET/6 PM PT live from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, with Peter Quillin’s middleweight title defense against Fernando Guerrero serving as the co-feature.
Garcia captured the WBC crown in a bit of a sham title fight against a faded version of Erik Morales who hadn’t beaten anyone of note in his rise up the 140-pound rankings, and came off a loss to capture the vacant title against Pablo Cesar Cano just six months before, only to lose it on the scales a day before the Garcia loss. Garcia proved his worth and justified some of the hype in his first title defense when he stopped WBA titlist Amir Khan in only four rounds. Garcia scored another fourth-round stoppage in his last fight, this time in a rematch against Erik Morales after the latter twice tested positive for Clenbuterol, but was cleared to fight when his third test came up clean.
When it comes to common opponents, Judah and Garcia have both faced off against Amir Khan. While Garcia owns a stoppage win over Khan, Judah suffered a knockout (body shot) loss to Khan. Judah lost his IBF junior welterweight title in the loss to Khan, but was right back in the mix when he stopped Vernon Paris last March. By the time Saturday night rolls around, Judah, now 35 years of age, will have been inactive for 13 months. In a long up-and-down career, Judah owns wins over Junior Witter, DeMarcus Corley, Cory Spinks, and Lucas Matthysse, and has lost to Kostya Tszyu, Spinks, Floyd Mayweather Jr., and Miguel Cotto, among others.
Originally set to happen on February 9, Danny Garcia sustained a rib injury during sparring and the fight was moved back to allow time to heal. The lead up to the fight featured a press conference brawl between Zab Judah and Garcia’s father and trainer, Angel Garcia, leading the initial narrative to involve a lot of bad blood. With so much time to cool off, some of the buzz surrounding this fight has faded away, but it still remains a fight that should produce fireworks.
Judah relies on fast hands and deceptive, stinging power. Defensive lapses have plagued him throughout his career, as well as questions of his mental toughness. He will sometimes pull straight back out of offensive exchanges with his chin exposed and get floored, and he’s been shown to fold when the going gets tough. Offensively his jab is inconsistent, but his left hand can be a lethal weapon. He throws it from all angles, with his uppercut being quite possibly the most effective. Judah likes to throw the uppercut as his opponent is moving in, with hopes of catching him on the chin while vulnerable.
Garcia is a fighter who relies heavily on rhythm. He punches in rhythms, often times throwing one punch at a time, and he’s got a knack for timing his opponents with well-placed counter shots. Defensively he’s slow footed and he doesn’t move his head enough consistently. He can be hurt, and will have to be wary of that sneaky Zab Judah uppercut when he’s initiating the attack. Garcia is a left-hand-heavy fighter, with his left hook being the punch that produces the most fireworks.
Like most Zab Judah fights, he will likely have some success in the early rounds. He’ll use plenty of movement, stopping only to pepper Garcia with flurries of punches before circling away. And like most Zab Judah fights, a defensive lapse will once again prove to be his undoing, when he gets cute and is caught with a left hook bomb that detonates on his chin and sends him down in a scene that may vaguely resemble his knockout loss to Kostya Tszyu nearly a decade ago, but later than the second round. Danny Garcia wins this fight by knockout in the fifth and sends Zab Judah back a few spots in the long line of 140-pound title challengers.