Ghanan-born Bronx fighter Joshua Clottey stopped Brooklyn's Zab Judah via ninth round technical decision, and Armenian-born Australian Vic Darchinyan destroyed Russia's Dimitri Kirilov in a fine night at the fights that both started and essentially ends the major bouts of August.
Let's start with the IBF welterweight title fight, a good, tough fight that the judges got right. After a cut forced the fight to the cards, Clottey won on scores of 86-85, 86-85 and 87-84.
I want to say that Judah the fighter showed plenty of heart and guts, and a good chin. Clottey brought the fight to him in a big way, did his usual stuff, and showed a great beard. It turned out that he was too rugged and too strong for Judah, whose usual nice start, I thought, was followed by his usual quick fade.
Judah (36-6, 25 KO) came in at a very light 143 pounds for the fight, four pounds under the welterweight limit. Like happened against MIguel Cotto last year, it seemed clear that Judah had Clottey beat in terms of flash, pomp and things that make a crowd get excited. He was faster, still had a style about him, and still is a good fighter.
But Judah is done as a major main event's A-side. You look back over his record these days, and it's just not there. The guy can fight, yes, but he loses his big fights, and he isn't exactly Oscar de la Hoya at the gates. This loss makes him 2-4 in his last six, and the two wins came over Edwin Vazquez and Ryan Davis, while the losses have been Clottey, Cotto, Mayweather and Baldomir.
Zab and his father, Yoel, think the cut was caused by a headbutt, but replays conclusively showed that it was a punch that did it. If Judah -- who got the "how many fingers?" question wrong -- decided to end it when it ended because he thought he was ahead on the cards, he was wrong. He did think he was winning though, and blames Duane Ford (who had it 87-84 Clottey), a judge he claims has had it out for him for years.
So, really, despite the praise I give Judah, it's the same old Zab B.S., the guy with excuses for everything, and if you listen to him, has really never lost a fight just because he lost, the closest he comes to accepting defeat being against Cory Spinks, when he said he just didn't try hard enough or whatever. Jay Nady was to blame for Tszyu, low blows were to blame against Cotto, etc.
Really, the biggest problem Zab has had in his career has been himself. I respect his toughness and his natural skills, but as Floyd Mayweather said, Judah is a six-round fighter who goes away when the going gets tough later in a fight.
As for Clottey (35-2, 20 KO), he earned his win, and he's earned his success as the new IBF welterweight titleholder. A unification bout with Margarito may not happen, as Top Rank's Todd duBoef seemed less-than-committed in post-fight quotes to making the fight. It'd be easy to do since both are Top Rank fighters, but there wouldn't be huge money in it and he can be a bad matchup for Margarito, who is one of Top Rank's flagship stars.
Maybe there's more to be said right now about Judah losing than there is Clottey winning, but next week, Clottey will matter, while Judah's career moves closer to journeyman status. It's been a long, long time since he's beaten a fighter of any repute.
In Tacoma, Wash., Vic Darchinyan got back into the title ranks by manhandling Dimitri Kirilov, winning on a fifth round knockout in a bout where the Russian titlist brought nothing to the table.
Darchinyan (30-1-1, 24 KO) won every round decisively and punished Kirilov (29-4-1, 9 KO) with left hand after left hand, leaving no doubt about anything. You could feel very quickly that Darchinyan was too strong for Kirilov, who occasionally landed a nice counter when Darchinyan lunged, but Vic discovered quickly he had no fear of Kirilov's power, and fought accordingly.
People are talking a bit about Darchinyan challenging Cristian Mijares. I couldn't think of a worse idea for Vic. Mijares is a classy, super tough boxer who would make Vic look bad, simple as that.
On the undercard, Andre Dirrell fought a bit tentatively against unheralded Mike Paschall, before ending his night on doctor stoppage from a single, beautiful left hand in the fourth round. It was a punch that sliced and dug into Paschall's forehead, causing a very nasty, deep cut. I haven't read anything official, but I have to think that there was scar tissue there that blew up on Paschall. I've never seen a punch open up a forehead like that before, and though there were a couple of head clashes, those had nothing to do with it.
Paschall, to his credit, fought with no fear of the highly-regarded Dirrell and made a fairly entertaining scrap out of it. He begged the doctor not to stop the fight, pleading for one more round. And had he been given that extra round, I have no doubt that Paschall literally would've just come out winging shots, trying to rush and overwhelm Dirrell as quickly as possible.