He hasn't won a fight in over two years and yet you would be hard pressed to find a writer alive that still wouldn't place Zab "Super" Judah, 34-5 (25), in the top ten of the welterweight division. Heck, I for one think that he is still one of the five best in that weight class.
But for one of the most physically gifted fighters of this generation, top five is far from where he was expecting to be at this stage of his career.
As a young fighter from a distinguished boxing family, the early stages of Judah's career had him being talked about in extremely high regard. After a disappointing outing at the Olympic Trials, Zab began his professional career by blazing through his first 28 opponents with ease before falling victim to a perfect punch by Kostya Tszyu in 2001.
Although Judah bounced right back with three straight victories, the invincibility that almost every young undefeated fighter carries with them was gone.
Now, almost eleven years after his professional debut, Zab Judah must take a step back, push away the folks that are yelling in his ears, and decide once and for all, is boxing what he really wants to do anymore?
On a recent Saturday night in Madison Square Garden, Zab Judah might have just showed us all that he is still here. Even in his loss against Miguel Cotto, this man showed the world that he is not just a flashy boxer with lighting quick hands, but he can also be a fighter. A fighter with the will and determination to bounce back from defeat and rise once again.
As we have seen as of late with fighters like Acelino Freitas and Israel Vazquez, it can be easier sometimes to just stay on your stool in your corner. It is easier to say, "I'm done," rather than fight until you are done.
But Judah got up off of his stool in the ninth against Cotto and went out on his shield, an act that we have seen reserved lately for men like Gatti or the late Diego Corrales. Judah showed the boxing world that they can write him off if they want, but he is not going to write himself off this time.
Since his loss in 2001 to Tszyu, Zab has been struggling with focus. Whether it is getting focused before a fight, as was the case against Corey Spinks in their first bout, or his panache of losing it during the fight, as we witnessed in his loss against Carlos Baldomir. The question with Judah is "which Zab is going to show up."
Judah still has something in the boxing world that many of the top fighters in the division covet: marketability. Fighters like Antonio Margarito, Joshua Clottey and Paul Williams are still struggling to break into the big dollar fights, where as Zab is breaking the bank whenever he steps into the ring. But does he want to step in again?
So, where does he go from here? Does he take a few more fights on ESPN to tune up and make another run for the title? Does he move up to junior middleweight with Mayweather and Spinks and hope for another big money fight there? Or does he hope that someone, possibly IBF champ Kermit Cintron or Shane Mosley, pick him for an HBO date, considering that he still one of the biggest draws in the division?
A few weeks ago, Miguel Cotto proved that he was the better fighter. He proved, that at least for a while, if anyone wants to rule the welterweight division, they must first go through him. But Zab Judah proved that he can be a warrior. Alongside his power, quickness and defensive skills, he proved that he can be exiting. You never know what is going to happen during a Judah fight and that is what makes him great.
If he decides to get back on the proverbial horse, he needs to be ready. He needs to be focused and back in the correct frame of mind., because if the "Super" Judah that we saw on against Cotto is the "Super" Judah we can expect in the future, he might still have a "Super" future in boxing.