It has been a busy run for fight cards in New York City. Last Saturday, we had Sergio Martinez-Matthew Macklin at the Madison Square Garden Theater. This Saturday, Brooklyn's 34-year-old Zab Judah (41-7 with 28 KOs, stopped three times) will fight for the first time as a pro in BK, at the Aviator Complex on Flatbush Ave., in South Brooklyn. He'll take on 24-year-old Vernon Paris of Detroit (26-0 with 15 KOs), and needs a win to keep himself from being tossed into the stepping stone bin. Coming off a loss to Amir Khan last July, in which many pundits said it looked like Judah wanted to quit (he went down in the fifth like he was shot, off a blow to his belt line), this could be his last chance. And if it isn't, it's getting there.
That said, it seems a good bet that he'll be in better form against Paris, who hasn't yet proved himself to be anything above a B-grade boxer. Judah, who now lives in Las Vegas, seems amped to be back in the borough.
"It's great," he said when asked about fighting on his home turf. "This is the first time that I will be fighting in Brooklyn as a professional. It's a great feeling. You know, the last time I fought in Brooklyn, I think, was Golden Gloves."
This bout, which is a title shot eliminator for a crack at the IBF junior welterweight champ -- TBD by the Lamont Peterson-Amir Khan rematch on May 19 -- is coming together as something of a turf war.
"I hope that Vernon shows up," Judah said. "Vernon Paris is coming to New York City, Brooklyn, NY. My fans are my fans. You have to respect everywhere that you go. You can't bad-mouth or disrespect anywhere that you go and expect to just walk out plain and calm. I love Detroit, I defended my world title in Detroit, I have a lot of friends in Detroit, and I have a lot of respect for Detroit. All I'm asking of the young man is to come in here with respect of the place. Give respect, and respect will be given back."
A win here can earn back Judah, the ex-junior welter and welter champ, a measure of the respect he lost in some circles after the Khan outing. Fight writers like to play up the drama by proclaiming every other fight a crossroads fight. Judah is 34, and he'll be able to hash out a few more years and make money, regardless. It's simply a matter of, will it be as the A-side, or as a stepping stone, a name to add to the resume of up-'n-comers? It's up to him.
Note: The Aviator Sports and Events Center offers free parking. You can also take public transportation via the Q35 MTA bus from the Flatbush Avenue/Brooklyn College subway station. Tickets to this event are priced at $200, $100 and $75 and may be purchased by calling Main Events (973) 200-7050 or Peltz Boxing (215) 765-0922, or online through www.peltzboxing.com. The non-televised undercard fights will begin at 7:30 p.m., and the NBC Sports Network "Fight Night" broadcast will begin at 10 p.m. ET on March 24.