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Here's hoping Cotto shuts up Judah

Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

Usually before big fights, or even semi-big fights, I try to type up a nice preview. I try to present fair arguments and look at all sides of the upcoming bout(s). I do my best to not let personal bias enter into the fray.

Judah's last major fight was more memorable for an in-ring riot than it was in-ring action.
For this Saturday's showdown between WBA welterweight champion Miguel Cotto and former 147- and 140-pound titleholder Zab Judah, however, I cannot tell a lie. Judah is one of boxing's most unbelievably obnoxious figures, a fighter I'd find it impossible to root for without the most dire of circumstances. Perhaps if tyrannic aliens were to attempt a takeover of earth and only Zab Judah could stop them, I'd cheer for him.

I don't want to appear totally unreasonable, though. Judah is (or was) a really good fighter, and at one time was one of the best in the game. His last three fights have marked a sharp decline for the Brooklyn native, with a shocking upset loss to journeyman Carlos Baldomir, a debacle against and convincing defeat at the hands of Floyd Mayweather, Jr., and a catastrophe in April against tune-up opponent Ruben Galvan that ended in a no-contest in less than one round. Judah may still be good, but he is absolutely not the fighter he once was.

Miguel Cotto, on the other hand, has proven to be nothing less than a wrecking ball in his young career. At 26, the rising Puerto Rican star has already captured titles in two weight classes, and has beaten several quality fighters: Chop Chop Corley, Gianluca Branco, Ricardo Torres, Paulie Malignaggi, Carlos Quintana and Oktay Urkal have all fallen to Cotto's relentless and punishing style. Cotto may never be a true superstar simply because he's not all that charismatic. He is well-spoken and very intelligent, with a calm demeanor that doesn't lend itself well to the antics that boxing promoters seem to desire from their star hands these days. He is in some ways Judah's polar opposite -- a humble fighter with a bright future, his opponent an arrogant former star looking to hang on to the past.

Zab Judah does have a shot on Saturday, but it'll have to be the Judah of old, rather than the recent Judah. Having been unable to strike even the slightest bit of fear into the rugged Baldomir, one has to wonder if Cotto won't simply spend the first portion of the fight attempting to bully Judah and back him down, keeping himself out of danger against Judah's superior speed. If he can do that, Zab will be in a whole lot of trouble.

On the other hand, if Cotto lays back and lets Judah come to him, we could see a Judah rebirth. Zab is no different than any other fighter -- if you allow him to develop a rhythm, he is dangerous. Add in the fact that he is a good fighter, and that's a recipe for disaster in the Cotto corner.

It's a fight that's honestly a little bit tough to pick on paper. A lot of this depends on Judah and how much he has left, but you also have to factor in that Cotto may yet be getting better, and if that's the case, I don't think there's any way Judah can beat the younger, stronger champion.

In all candor, I simply hope that Cotto knocks Judah out in unceremonious fashion, and that this is the last we see of Judah in a major fight. Judah is at best a character and at worst (which is more frequent) a pinpoint representation of the uglier side of boxing.

Maybe it's just that I want it so bad, but my gut is saying a Cotto knockout in the later rounds, following a steady and vicious body attack early on. I see Cotto being able to pressure Judah into losing his way early and often, and Zab absorbing a lot of punishment, even if it's not the flashy, left hook to the jaw type of stuff -- more of a methodical pounding, really.

For the sake of everyone that has spent years disliking Judah -- and there are many of us -- let's hope this is the night where he can't have an excuse. Miguel Cotto could be just the right guy for the job.

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