Well, maybe his personality hasn't changed that much. Zab Judah told Chris Robinson in an interview that he feels that Amir Khan would be a "step down" for him as a next opponent, citing Khan's age and experience level, and called out Manny Pacquiao.
"I like the Pacquiao fight. No disrespect to Amir Khan but it's a step down for myself. He's a kid. You know what I'm saying? He's just coming on the scene."
Two surefire signs that Judah might be more of "the old Judah" than he wants people to notice every time he does one of his TV interviews: (1) delusion, and (2) uh oh, he said, "You know what I'm saying?"
Judah (41-6, 28 KO) has recently become relevant again after doing everything he could do, including allegedly attacking a shower door, to fall out of the top-level eye in the last couple of years.
But since Judah feels that Amir Khan, currently ranked as the No. 2 junior welterweight in the world, would be a "step down" for him, let's see if that's true. Let's compare Khan to Judah's last five opponents.
Ernest Johnson: Judah fought Johnson in arguably the worst "major PPV" main co-feature ever on the Joe Calzaghe vs Roy Jones Jr embarrassment. I remember at the time a couple of people (perhaps Johnson's relatives) telling me not to sleep on the underdog, but I did, and after Judah's tedious 10-round round cruise control blowout, I was even more tired. Johnson had come into this fight with clear losses to Ernesto Zavala and Rogelio Castaneda Jr on his sheet, and would fight once more (losing to Marvin Cordova Jr) in 2009. He hasn't been in a fight since.
- Ubaldo Hernandez: Come on. Hernandez came into this fight 22-19-2, and Judah and that nutjob promoter he was working with put this on pay-per-view. I figure about 17 people bought this. I was one of them! Hernandez hadn't fought in two years and basically took a dive to cash his paycheck and avoid any punishment. He wasn't there to fight and hasn't fought since.
- Jose Armando Santa Cruz: The only thing that Santa Cruz is really known for is getting robbed against then-lightweight champ Joel Casamayor in 2007. This was an OK comeback to at least the world of decent fighters for Judah, who ripped Santa Cruz with no trouble.
- Lucas Matthysse: (Has everyone on this list fought Rogelio Castaneda Jr?) Matthysse does appear to be a pretty fine fighter, but we'll get a final good read on him when he faces Devon Alexander on June 25. That will tell us if he was so competitive against Judah last November because he's that good, or because Judah is so inconsistent when given any sort of real challenge. This was the first legit fight Judah had been in since folding against Joshua Clottey in 2008.
- Kaizer Mabuza: A one-hit wonder whose reputation was built on the back of a fight against the world's worst version of Kendall Holt. Seriously, if you think Mabuza's win over Holt has any real merit, go watch it. Holt didn't belong in the ring that night, and it wasn't Mabuza that did that.
Now if you're like me, you will not be worried so much about how long Amir Khan has been "on the scene," but more about the fact that his recent competition makes Judah's look even worse, and you might then wonder if Zab considers Ubaldo Hernandez's "experience" to be a superiority to this "Khan" fellow, who has only had about as many fights as Hernandez has losses. In his last five, Khan has faced Andriy Kotelnik, Dmitriy Salita, Paulie Malignaggi, Marcos Maidana, and Paul McCloskey. Admittedly not murderer's row, but at least three of them were top 10 junior welters at the time of the fight, and Salita is the only stinker of the group.
So what's the real scoop here? It can't be Khan and Golden Boy turning down Judah as an opponent, because then Judah would be everywhere shouting about Khan being afraid of him, and perhaps with some validity.
Does he want no piece of Khan? Is he really so crazy as to think his name is anything more than a mild distraction in any Pacquiao fight talks? Is he just trying to stir the pot, so that at the press conferences, he can talk about how Khan's just a kid and on July 23 he'll be facing a man? Whatever it is, none of it really fits Zab's new personality, and the whole situation kind of reminds me of that time on "The Sopranos," when Janice went to anger management and was (briefly) all happy and non-argumentative.