The vacant IBF Welterweight title was up for grabs last night at The Palms in Las Vegas, Nevada between determined combatants Zab Judah, a former owner of the belt, and Joshua Clottey.
Clottey came into the scrap the far less experienced man but had only lost to world champions Antonio Margarito and Carlos Baldomir over the course of a 13 year, 36 fight career and is still at the peak of his powers.
Judah, on the other hand, was a veteran of 15 world title bouts but at least three years on the other side of his own career peak and had recently racked up losses to such top men as Floyd Mayweather and Miguel Cotto over the last two years.
As expected, Clottey stalked Judah from the outset but was content to simply walk forward with hands held high and absorb flashy combinations from the former unified welterweight champion, who looked to be in superb form.
By the third, Clottey began to open up with a lunging lead right hand that caught Judah more often than not for the remainder of the bout but was still getting nailed by a lot of flashy combinations from the Brooklyn based veteran.
As the bout wore on, Judah began to tire from the constant foot movement resulting from Clottey's pressure and started to trade with the Ghana native. This was much to Clottey's advantage and the Bronx based African began to nail Judah with a hurtful left hook to the body and big uppercuts.
Judah worked in his own attacks to the body and had definite scoring moments with sharp inside work but it had little or no effect on Clottey, who continued to pressure "Super" Judah.
By the later rounds, things were looking a lot like Antonio Margarito's dismantling of Miguel Cotto last weekend as Judah was clearly getting busted up by a resolute opponent that he just could not hurt.
More and more, Judah was forced into the trenches and was coming off second best as Clottey battered his rival with both hands and soaked up everything Judah could throw back at him.
By the ninth frame, a Clottey uppercut opened a bad gash above Judah's right eye, although it was ruled to have come from an accidental clash of heads, and when being examined by the ringside doctor, the bout was stopped when Judah claimed that he could not see from the injured eye.
The cards were tabulated and Clottey was declared the victor by scores of 87-84 and 86-85 twice.
Judah, 36-6 (25), has now gone 2-4 with one no contest since January of 2006 and very well may be finished as a top level welterweight while Clottey wins a world title on the second try and improves to 35-2 (20).
On the undercard, talented Memphis based 23 year old lightweight Anthony Peterson, 28-0 (18), had too much youth, handspeed and overall quickness for 34 year old former IBF Champion Javier Jauregui, 53-15-2 (36), to handle as Peterson posted the best win of a four year career via marks of 99-91 and 100-90 twice after ten rounds.