As mediocre a fight as it was in most respects, the story of the now-canceled fight between Zab Judah and Matthew Hatton is, I think, pretty interesting. For now, all signs point to Hatton fighting Lovemore N'dou for the IBO welterweight title instead of facing Judah in a much bigger fight, but Hatton isn't 100% sure either:
"The last few weeks have been absolutely ridiculous but until I see Lovemore's name on a contract, I'm not taking anything for granted.
"The fights just seemed to be falling apart one by one while I've been out running and training."
Let's recap this saga:
- Judah and Hatton agree to meet on the July 18 Mayweather-Marquez undercard. Judah, now a Mayweather Promotions fighter, is in some ways getting a favor from a friend/promoter, but it's a nice setup; if Judah wins, he can call out Ricky Hatton for a money fight. If Matthew wins, Judah's career is pretty much over.
- July 18 card is scrapped thanks to Mayweather's alleged rib injury. This is no fault of Judah or Hatton, but they have to give up their paydays, too.
- Hatton begins talks with Lovemore N'dou. They fall apart.
- Judah-Hatton is rescheduled for Sept. 19, the new Mayweather-Marquez date.
- Judah starts backing down, asking for the fight to be at 140 pounds, a weight he hasn't fought at in years, and one where Matthew has never fought.
- For whatever it's worth, Judah is reported to barely be in training at all, partying in Vegas. Please note that Lennox Lewis once said that Vegas would be good for Judah because unlike New York, there are no night clubs out there. The same source says that Judah told him that he'd "love" to fight Manny Pacquiao. This blogger assumes Judah was drunk. And also that everyone near Manny's weight class would love to fight him because it's a lot of money, duh.
I think the main point is No. 5 here: Judah doesn't want to fight. He hasn't fought since November. He doesn't want to fight. If the partying rumors are true, he's just living life and going about his business. The Matthew Hatton fight wasn't exactly huge money, and Judah probably feels for whatever reason that he's still a "big money" fighter, which he isn't. He hasn't beaten a decent opponent in almost half a decade and he folds like a tent when the going gets rough anymore. He's still a massive talent, and still has some of the fastest hands in the sport. I've never made any secret that I wasn't a Zab fan, but I don't need to be a fan to respect what someone can do in the ring. Judah at his best was phenomenal to watch. He's always lacked that certain something, though.
By asking for an obvious welterweight to come down to 140, Zab made this transparent enough, but Judah himself hasn't officially fought at junior welterweight since knocking out Jamie Rangel in a minute and 12 seconds on December 13, 2003. That's five and a half years. Yes, he's said he wants to go back to 140 on occasion in the last year, year and a half, but he hasn't. So not only was he begging for a "No thanks, then" from his opponent, but he couldn't even figure out a way that wasn't 200% obvious to everyone on earth.
Judah may fight Antonio Diaz (46-5-1, 29 KO) on the 9/19 card, or he may not. I'm going to guess he won't. Diaz, by the way, is also a welterweight (or a little higher), though he did fight at 140 at some point in his career. At 140, he fought the likes of Micky Ward and Ivan Robinson, and at 147 he lost to Shane Mosley and Antonio Margarito. He is on a winning streak dating back to 2004 (seven fights, he was out of boxing from 8/05 through 7/08) and frankly he might beat Judah, too.
- Our friend from SBN's BlogABull brought the David Diaz-Jesus Chavez fight to our attention the other day, and all I can really say is this: I'll be stunned if it actually happens, but in the boxing world, Chicago is a really undeveloped market. Local boxing does quite well down there. The last time a major card came to Chicago was -- I believe -- Juan Diaz's fight against Julio Diaz, which was held at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, which is a decent drive from the city. That show did absolutely horrible at the gate, but promotion was also really, really bad. I said then that Don King could've easily found a location in the city for roughly the same cost and probably done twice the house. There's a large Hispanic market in Chicago and they'll come out to support fights if they know about them. David Diaz's fight with Erik Morales did quite well, and everyone and their dog knew Morales was shot.
- Speaking of Erik Morales, he's still planning on making that comeback. WBC president Jose Sulaiman (I'm sorry, I'm just not calling him Don Jose) has advised against it, and he was always one of Morales' biggest supporters. Bob Arum long ago said he won't have anything to do with a Morales return because Morales reported buzzing in his head after his final fight with Diaz. Morales and his old foe, Marco Antonio Barrera, are both foolishly chasing that "world titles in four weight classes" thing that no Mexican-born fighter has ever accomplished. It's a great goal, and they were great fighters, but they're the wrong guys at the wrong time trying to do it. Barrera has no chance to win a title at 135, and neither does Morales, though Morales may gun for 140. He's put on a good amount of weight since retiring. The good news -- if there is any -- is that he's taking it slow and seems to be trying to do it right. Sadly the chances of Morales and/or Barrera getting hurt are far higher, in my view, than them winning another title.
- After losing to Devon Alexander, Junior Witter and his team are considering a move up to 147 pounds. He seemed fit and did what he always does. I think the bigger problem they're going to have to face is he's just not that good, and he was seen as Ricky Hatton's greatest challenge for years because 140 used to be an empty division. But there's nothing he's going to hurt moving to 147, either. Why not?