With his new promoters at Main Events claiming no one noteworthy wants to fight him, Zab Judah will get back in the ring on October 2 against Michael Clark, a 37-year-old journeyman who received one lightweight title shot 11 years ago and was knocked out by Artur Grigorian.
Dan Rafael at ESPN.com had this from Kathy Duva:
"We offered the fight to Juan Urango, Victor Cayo, Paulie Malignaggi, Lucas Matthysse, Julio Diaz, Kendall Holt and Joel Casamayor," Duva said. "None of them were interested."
She added that they've told HBO that Judah is serious about his return at 140 (this fight will have a contracted max weight of 142, but Judah says he plans to weigh 140), and HBO replied that the only way Judah will get on the network is on one of Golden Boy's cards, as "they have the dates and they have most of those fighters."
That list of fighters has its problems, though. Urango is coming off of a TKO loss where he was dominated; Cayo is coming off of a KO loss in a good fight, and at 25 is no doubt looking for a rebound fight; Malignaggi is coming off of a loss and says he's moving to 147; Matthysse has no name value; Diaz is weathered and on nobody's radar as a top guy; Holt is in limbo about his weight and has lost two straight, including a miserable performance in his last fight; and Casamayor is old, has no business over 135 and was just dominated by Robert Guerrero in a boring fight.
It's not surprising that none of those fighters were much interested in fighting Judah, or that HBO wouldn't really care about any of those possible matchups. Everyone, including Judah, is damaged goods, except Matthysse, who again has zero name value in the States at this time. I am sure Main Events was willing to match Judah with all of those fighters, but it's also not really the list of stalwarts the promoter is making it out to be, either.
But even without a stiff opponent lined up, Judah getting back in the ring this quickly does indicate that he just might really be serious about this comeback. He wasted an out of shape Jose Armando Santa Cruz on Friday Night Fights, and that's no knock on Zab. He didn't tell Santa Cruz to come in out of shape, and he did his job. Judah looked fit, energetic and strong. He also really did look determined. I've always felt Judah is a guy who wears his emotions on his sleeve and it's never hard to tell when he's up or down for a fight, and he was up for that one.
As for Clark (40-5-1, 18 KO), he's realistically got no shot at beating Zab, and he never would have at any point in his career. "Cold Blood" is more or less a solid club fighter from Columbus, Ohio. He was on "The Contender" in 2006, where he lost to Cornelius Bundrage, and since then his most notable fight has been against Mike Alvarado in 2007. Alvarado scored a TKO-1 at 1:27, and Clark hurt his hand. He did go to a majority draw with Verquan Kimbrough in 2008. Since that fight, he's 3-0 with one no-contest against marginal opposition.
It's better to fight and keep in ring shape for when a call does come than just sit around, though, so I'll choose to look at this in the sunshine way. And a call will come, since Judah has a lot of name value left and is still a star among the names at 140. Also worth noting is that this will be Judah's second fight at the Prudential Center in Newark, where Tomasz Adamek has made an American home for himself. If Judah can continue to draw crowds there, it does nothing but up his value, as he'll be able to point to a venue where everyone can make money fighting him.
Kathy Duva says they are working on getting TV for October 2, as well. Their only realistic non-PPV option is probably hoping ESPN2 will be willing to pick up the fight, though Showtime could smell an opportunity here with the comeback of a name fighter, doing a "special" ShoBox pairing the Judah fight with a prospect bout. HBO is working on a double- or triple-header for that night.