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It Ended For Judah With a Phony Claim And Sad Excuse…BORGES



In his biggest moments Zab Judah was never quite good enough.

There’s no shame in that. The shame comes from how he always reacted to that simple fact.

That was the case again Saturday night against young lion Amir Khan, who overwhelmed the 33-year-old Judah, stopping him in five one-sided rounds to retain the WBA light welterweight title.

When it was over Judah did what he had done in the past when things got really tough – he opted out. He lay on his hands and knees clutching his private parts with his head on the floor as his mouth and nose leaked his own blood until referee Vic Drakulich said, “It’s over.’’ The instant he did Judah jumped up with a pained expression on his face and cried foul.

Not as loudly as he has after past mental meltdowns. Not by throwing a tantrum but by doing something that has become his stock and trade in such situations. He created in his mind an alternate reality that he thinks gets him off the hook.

The fact of the matter is Judah was hit on the belt line by a Khan uppercut, a punch that may have been borderline low but was not really below the accepted boxing version of the DMZ. Surely it was not pleasant but it was not as debilitating as Judah tried to make it appear.

Tiring badly and unraveling mentally because of the unexpected speed and punching power of Khan, Judah went to his knees and waited. When he got what he wanted – which was a safe harbor from which he could make excuses without having to fight over them – he popped up pain-free enough to make a speech. It was, of course, too late to save his title challenge, but that was the idea, now wasn’t it?

There is no shame in being not quite good enough to compete successfully at the highest level. Not everyone can be the best and Judah was certainly better than a lot of people during his 48-fight career. But not quite good enough has been Judah’s fate dating back to when Kostya Tszyu knocked him loopy in two rounds. He protested wildly after he woke up.

It was his fate after Floyd Mayweather boxed him silly. He protested so noisily he got himself suspended and nearly started a riot.
It was his fate against Miguel Cotto and Joshua Clottey and Carlos Baldomir and Cory Spinks (although he avenged that loss in a rematch) and now Khan too.
It is Zab Judah’s fate to have been born with more talent than he knows what to do with. He is good and has been for a long time but you can go all the way back to the U.S. Olympic team he didn’t make when he was one of America’s shining amateur stars and you find the same pattern. When the lights are the brightest Judah melts.

Saturday was different only in that Khan was younger, faster and stronger. Judah was no longer a rising star but a fading one who had not one answer to what Khan was doing to him or what Khan’s trainer, Freddie Roach, had plotted as a way to defeat him.

He was beaten from the opening bell, a fact it seemed his trainer, Pernell Whitaker, sensed after the first round. When Judah came back to the corner, Whitaker was reprimanding him for not fighting. It was a trend that continued for five rounds in which Judah landed only 20 punches. It lasted until he found a way out.

“All the fans around the world that watched the fight could see it was clearly a low blow,’’ Judah claimed. “I thought (Drakulich) was giving me time to get myself together. When he said ‘Over!’ I thought he was giving me an eight-count.’’

Sorry, Zab, you know that’s not how it works. Once he heard the number “nine’’ he knew he was being counted out. More importantly, after 48 professional fights he knew you don’t lie on the floor waiting for the referee to pick you up. You get up and then see what the situation is.
If you want to keep fighting you take no chances with a referee coming to the end of his count. Judah claimed he thought he was getting an eight count. What did he think “nine’’ meant?

Judah could have gotten up and protested mightily that he’d been struck below the DMZ. He hadn’t but he could have made his case and bought some precious time. It wouldn’t have changed the outcome but it might have changed the way he came off.

But for all his charm Judah has always been an excuse maker when things go bad. It’s never his fault and it’s never to the other guy’s credit. There’s always something to complain about.

“In the past when something like this happened, I’d overreact, but this time I’ll leave it up to the fans around the world and the officials to take the right decisions,’’ Judah said. “Zab Judah’s still here.’’

The official already made the right decision. He counted him out while he lay on his hands and knees waiting for someone to bail him out.

As for still being here, he may still be around but his days as a legitimate title contender are over. He’s a guy you beat on the way up now or a guy who exposes the fraudulent claims of younger men. He’s a trial horse with a good resume, a guy who wasn’t ever quite as good as he thought he was but good enough to win some titles and make some money.

The sad part is he never lacked for talent. He was blessed with tremendous speed and reflexes and reasonable power for a man his size. What he lacked was something on the inside, the mental toughness not to take the out when it was presented to him.

The mental toughness to stand in there and find a way when things looked bad, as at some point they do for every fighter who ever lived. Mental strength is a gift too and that is something he was neither blessed with nor could find a way to develop.

Sad really but the way it ended for Zab Judah Saturday night was the way it had to end – with a phony claim and another excuse.

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Fast Results From London: Joshua Takes Out Povetkin in the 7th



UK sporting

It was a very wet night at Wembley Stadium, but the dampness didn’t diminish the enthusiasm of the crowd which welcomed UK sporting hero Anthony Joshua into the ring with a thunderous ovation. And Joshua didn’t disappoint. After six relatively even rounds, he found his range in the seventh and became the first man to stop Alexander Povetkin. A three punch combo that began with an overhand right sent Povetkin sprawling into the ropes. The Russian beat the count, but Joshua smelled blood and as soon as the ref allowed the proceedings to continue he moved in for the kill. The official time was 1:59.

Povetkin started fast and in the eyes of many observers won the first three rounds. A sharp right hand in the waning seconds of round one reddened Joshua’s nose which leaked blood in the next round. The tide began to turn in round four when Povetkin suffered a cut above his left eye.

Povetkin (now 34-2), was the lighter man by 23 pounds. Joshua had a four inch height advantage and a seven inch reach advantage. And it mattered greatly that AJ was the younger man by 10-plus years. Povetkin wasn’t intimidated by Joshua and had several good moments but, at age 39, his reflexes betrayed him once the fight had crossed the midpoint.

Joshua, who owns three of the four meaningful heavyweight title belts, improved to 22-0 with his 21st stoppage. His next fight is penciled in for April 13 of next year against an opponent to be determined. His promoter Eddie Hearn has reserved that date at Wembley Stadium.

Other Bouts

In a 12-round lightweight bout, Joshua’s Olympic Games teammate and fellow gold medalist Luke Campbell (19-2) avenged the first loss of his career with a unanimous decision (119-109, 118-111,116-112) over France’s Yvan Mendy (40-5-1). This was Campbell’s second start since coming up short in a bid for Jorge Linares’s lightweight title and his first fight under his new trainer Shane McGuigan.

In their first meeting in December of 2015 at London’s O2 Arena, Mendy won a split decision that should have been unanimous. Campbell insisted that he had improved greatly in the interim and tonight’s fight bore witness. However, he needs to develop a harder punch to rank among the top lightweights in the world, a list headed by Mikey Garcia. As this fight was framed as a WBC title eliminator, Campbell is next in line to meet Garcia, but Mikey has indicated that he will pursue bigger game.

Lawrence Okolie, a 2016 Olympian who trains with Anthony Joshua, won a Lonsdale belt in only his 10th pro start with a 12-round decision over defending BBBofC cruiserweight champion Matty Askin in a messy fight. The undefeated Okolie had a point deducted in round five for leading with his head and had two more points deducted for holding, but banked enough rounds to get the nod on all three cards: 116-110, 114-112, and 114-113. Askin, who declined to 23-4-1, had won five straight heading in.

A 10-round heavyweight match between Sergey Kuzmin (13-0, 1 NC) and David Price (22-6) ended suddenly when Price retired on his stool after four relatively even rounds. The six-foot-eight, china-chinned Price claimed to have aggravated a biceps tear.

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Michael Dutchover Remains Undefeated in Ontario, Calif.

Transplanted Texan Michael Dutchover needed a little time to figure out Costa Rican Bergman Aguilar but when he did it was over quickly on Friday.



Michael Dutchover

ONTARIO-Calif.-Transplanted Texan Michael Dutchover needed a little time to figure out Costa Rican Bergman Aguilar but when he did it was over quickly on Friday.

Lightweight prospect Dutchover (11-0, 8 KOs) knocked out southpaw Aguilera (14-4-1, 4 KOs) in the fifth round with a barrage of body blows that left the Costa Rican limp at the Doubletree Hotel.

For two rounds Aguilar used an awkward counter-punching style that had Dutchover a little tentative. But once he figured out that combination punching was the key, he opened up with barrages and floored Aguilar with body shots at the end of round four.

That signaled doom for Aguilar.

The fifth round saw Dutchover target the body with impunity as Aguilar tried holding, running and covering up with no success. Referee Wayne Hedgepeth signaled the fight over at 2:31 of the fifth round giving Dutchover the win by knockout.

In a bantamweight clash Santa Ana’s Mario Hernandez (7-0-1, 3 KOs) and Mexico City’s Ivan Gonzalez (4-1-2, 1 KO) fought to a majority draw after six back and forth rounds.

Hernandez targeted the body against the taller Gonzalez who relied on long range counters. Both found success but neither could prove superiority after six turbulent rounds.

After six rounds one judge saw it 58-56 for Gonzalez but the two other judges saw it 57-57 for a majority draw.

Other bouts

South Central L.A.’s Ruben Torres (7-0, 6 KOs) extended his undefeated streak with a knockout over Mexico’s Eder “El Koreano” Amaro (6-6, 2 KOs) in a lightweight fight. But it wasn’t easy.

Amaro switched from southpaw to orthodox and was matching Torres for two rounds until the taller local fighter began blasting away to the body and head with precision. Many in the crowd cheered “Koreano” in unison but it couldn’t help once Torres zeroed in.

At the end of the fourth round Amaro could not continue and the fight was stopped giving a knockout for Torres.

Richard Brewart Jr. (2-0) mowed through Edward Aceves (0-5) flooring him with body shots in the first round then overwhelming him in the second. After seven unanswered blows referee Eddie Hernandez stopped the fight at 1:32 of round two giving Rancho Cucamonga’s Brewart the win by knockout in the super welterweight bout.

Southpaw David Ortiz (1-0) won his pro debut by unanimous decision after four rounds in a welterweight match against San Diego’s Mario Angeles (2-11-2). Ortiz lives in Bloomington, Calif. and is trained by Henry Ramirez. No knockdowns were scored.

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Charr-Oquendo Scuttled When Charr Tests Positive; the Odious WBA Saves Face



Manuel Charr

Manuel Charr and Fres Oquendo were scheduled to fight in Cologne, Germany, later this month (Sept. 29). Charr would be defending his WBA world heavyweight title, the “regular” version of it, not the “super” version which rests in the hands of Anthony Joshua.

The bout was quickly cancelled when it was revealed that Charr had tested positive for two banned anabolic steroids. The test was performed by VADA, the anti-doping agency identified with Las Vegas neurologist Dr. Margaret Goodman.

The 33-year-old Charr, born in Lebanon but a resident of Germany since the age of three, won the belt in his last start with a unanimous decision over 281-pound Russian behemoth Alexander Ustinov in Oberhausen, Germany. The title was vacant. Charr won the right to fight for it with a 10-round decision over Albanian slug Sefer Seferi. The victory over Ustinov elevated his record to 31-4. He has been stopped three times, by Vitali Klitschko, Alexander Povetkin, and Mairis Briedis.

If it wasn’t for bad luck, as the old saying goes, Fres Oquendo wouldn’t have any luck at all. For various reasons, his fights keep falling out. Before long he’ll be drawing social security. Well, not exactly, but he turned 45 in April and hasn’t fought in more than four years.

Oquendo has competed for this belt before. In his last ring appearance in July of 2014, he lost a majority decision to Russia’s Ruslan Chagaev in Grozny, Russia. As a concession for taking the fight on short notice, Team Oquendo negotiated a rematch clause in the contract, but a shoulder injury prevented Fres from activating it. When the injury healed, he had to go to court to compel Chagaev to fulfill his obligation. But then the Russian retired, muddling the water.

The WBA was legally bound to find Oquendo a title fight and in desperation turned to ancient Shannon Briggs. But the Oquendo-Briggs fight, scheduled for June 3 of last year in Hollywood, Florida, fell out when Briggs’ urine specimen showed an abnormally high level of testosterone.

Fres Oquendo was dogged by bad luck even before these recent developments. His professional record, 37-8, is somewhat misleading as six of his eight defeats were razor-thin including his 2003 setback to Chris Byrd and his 2006 setback to Evander Holyfield. However, Oquendo, something of a cutie, was never a crowd-pleaser and in none of his narrow defeats was there a public clamor for a rematch.

The cancellation of Charr-Oquendo cuts the World Boxing Association out of a sanctioning fee, but one would think that the WBA honchos are actually rather pleased by this turn of events. The fight, more precisely the WBA’s world title imprimatur, would have brought more unwanted publicity to the Panama-based organization.

ESPN’s Dan Rafael, who has the largest platform of any boxing writer, has been a persistent critic of the organization which once recognized 41 “champions” in 17 weight classes. In 2009, Rafael wrote, “(The WBA) has become such an absolute farce that even somebody like me, who follows boxing closely, sometimes has a hard time keeping track of all the nonsensical so-called world title belts the WBA has been doling out at an alarming rate. It almost reminds me of the ladies at Costco who hand out various samples on a busy Saturday afternoon.”

Rafael took note when WBA president Gilberto Mendoza promised to cull the herd by eliminating “regular” titles, and then became more caustic when Mendoza didn’t follow through. Recently, in one short, punchy diatribe, Rafael blistered the WBA as wretched, vile, and rancid.

Regardless of your opinion, it’s hard not to feel sorry for Fres Oquendo who keeps getting stranded at the altar. No, he’s not fun to watch and a man of his age shouldn’t be taking any more punches, but he has always been an honest workman and by all accounts he’s a very decent man. Born in Puerto Rico but raised in Chicago, Oquendo pitched right in when the island nation of his birth was ravaged by Hurricane Maria. He was personally responsible for relocating Puerto Rican boxing legend Wilfred Benitez and Benitez’s sister, his caregiver, to Chicago where their lives wouldn’t be as hard.

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