Zab Judah will be back in the ring against young, hungry Vernon Paris this spring. (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)
An IBF junior welterweight title eliminator between Zab Judah and Vernon Paris is coming this spring, as Main Events won a purse bid with an offer of $70,112, beating out Don King ($51K). Kathy Duva of Main Events is putting the fight together, and it will air on the new NBC Sports boxing series, says Dan Rafael.
As for spring dates available on the series, the next two NBC Sports/Main Events boxing dates after January 21 (Chambers vs Liakhovich) are, according to the original schedule from a while back, March 24 and June 16. March 24 has the Erik Morales vs Danny Garcia fight on HBO, and June 16 will likely have a Pacquiao pay-per-view replay if Manny fights on June 9 as expected.
Judah (41-7, 28 KO) is coming off of a typical excuse-filled loss to Amir Khan last July 23, while Paris (26-0, 15 KO) got here largely due to a good win in a really good fight on the August 5 Friday Night Fights, stopping Tim Coleman in the seventh round.
It's unclear why Judah deserves another title shot, or a chance for one, but he's got some minor name value left (it's not much, as you can see by his fights getting $70K bids) and the IBF, like all sanctioning bodies, tends to eventually stick with the names they know (like in The Distinguished Gentleman), and Judah could become their 140-pound version of Cory Spinks.
But this is a very good fight -- this is more a true "last chance" for Judah than the Khan fight was, because a loss to Khan meant losing to a well-known, top fighter in the division. Vernon Paris is no joke by any stretch of the imagination, and when he's really on his game, he looks like a potential top dog. Paris, who just turned 24 a few days ago, is a Detroit fighter who has obviously been versed in the old school, as he'll pull out things that fighters just don't do anymore.
But for all that there is good to say about Paris, you also have to note a couple of things:
- His personal life has been rocky at best in the past. He says this isn't an issue anymore, but...
- His professional career has been marred by some inconsistency. He seems to get up for fights that matter and fight down to his opposition when he feels there's no challenge.
Surely Paris will see Judah, by far his biggest fight to date, as a challenge. Now the question is whether he's good enough to win. Zab, for all his faults and flaws that are by now obvious to anyone except his most blind tagalong "fans," and for as much as I think he is No. 1 with a bullet on the list of the most overrated and overhyped fighters of his generation, is still a decent fighter. Not a really good one, but still pretty good. And Paris will have to be at his best to beat Zab Judah, unless Zab Judah has truly thrown in the towel on his career at age 34.
The biggest difference may be in who will go deeper. Does Zab Judah have that gut-check ability left, or is he too content and too worn out? Paris has it, or at least he gives the impression that he does, but then he's never been in the ring with a Zab Judah, either.