A fight between Juan Manuel Marquez and Zab Judah is looking very likely for Top Rank's big show on July 14 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, with word going around now that the fight is very nearly done, according to BoxingScene.com.
Judah was reportedly at the press room in Las Vegas today during the Mayweather vs Cotto festivities, and sounded confident that the fight would be finalized soon.
Judah (42-7, 29 KO) brought himself back into the mix with a thrashing of unbeaten Vernon Paris on March 24, while Marquez (54-6-1, 39 KO) had a pretty easy night on April 14 in his last bout, routing Serhiy Fedchenko in Mexico.
The original plan from Top Rank for July 14 was to pair Marquez with Brandon Rios, but Rios lost a ton of luster on that same April weekend, failing to make weight for a second straight fight on Friday, and then boxing very poorly but being awarded a gift decision against Richard Abril on Saturday night in Las Vegas.
Marquez quickly made clear after the fights that he wasn't really interested in fighting Rios, and that he preferred to face a southpaw in order to gear himself up for a potential late 2012 fourth fight with Manny Pacquiao. Filipino prospect Mercito Gesta, who also won on April 14, was named as a potential opponent, but it looks like Judah, who is far more well-known than Gesta and a better opponent to boot, is getting the call.
The 34-year-old Judah and 38-year-old Marquez are both veterans of the sport, not in their primes anymore but both still fighting at a very high level. It's an intriguing fight, and a win for Judah over Marquez could seriously put him in contention for his own fight with Pacquiao late this year, which he's been talking about for years now, but looked unlikely to ever happen after his 2011 loss to Amir Khan. With that in the rearview, and boxing having a very short attention span (fans, media, fighters, promoters, TV networks, everyone), Judah beating Marquez could make that plausible.
Pacquiao has to first get through Timothy Bradley on June 9, but this is a big deal. If this is basically serving as a Pacquiao eliminator -- the intent of the Marquez vs Rios idea -- then it's a highly significant fight. It should also be an entertaining battle, as both guys make for good fights when in against good opponents, and the style clash seems tremendously strong on paper.