NEW YORK, N.Y. — Zab Judah still speaks in that fusillade way. His words spill out in rapid-fire style, only they’re more measured these days. Maybe it’s because the Brooklyn welterweight is 41. It may be a little hard to believe, since Judah still looks like he’s 21—indelibly etched in the minds of fight fans as a former two-division titlist.
Judah (44-9, 30 knockouts) is looking to rekindle some past glory when he takes on Cletus “Hebrew Hammer” Seldin (23-1, 19 KOs) in a 12-round junior welterweight bout this Friday from the Turning Stone Resort & Casino, in Verona, N.Y., during Hall of Fame weekend.
Judah says he feels healthy. He says he feels as fast as he did 20 years ago and is ready to fight for the first time in 17 months. This will mark the third time in two years that Judah will fight.
One thing is for certain: When Judah met a handful of media in New York City on Saturday afternoon, June 1, to announce the Seldin fight prior to the Anthony Joshua-Andy Ruiz Jr. heavyweight title fight later that night at Madison Square Garden, he looked in great shape.
“That’s because I am,” Judah said. “I feel great. I’m going into this, like they say, smoking tomorrow’s champions. I get to show the world on Saturday, Hall of Fame weekend, that I’m still one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world. I’m beating all of the young guys in sparring.
“I feel like I’m 21 again. But I’m smarter than when I was 21. I’m more patient. With time comes maturity, it’s time for Zab Judah to come and show the world who I am. After this fight, Cletus Seldin’s name won’t be Cletus Seldin anymore. He’ll be No. ’31,’ for my 31st knockout. I’ll add him to my list.”
Judah stopped for a moment to think about a particular question he was posed. How would this version of Jab Judah fare against the 21-year-old version of “Super Judah?”
“That is a good question,” said Judah, taking a few moments to formulate a response. “I still say I’m 25. That 21-year-old Judah was a monster. I would say this Judah wins. This Judah has been through more than the 21-year-old Judah. I’ve been around. I’ve seen more and done more. I know the ups and downs.
“I know to look for the right hand. I know it’s coming. Sometimes, the younger version of me didn’t. Nobody can replace what you do. Cletus Seldin couldn’t deal with that Judah and he won’t be able to deal with this Judah. Father Time isn’t coming for me yet. At no time has Father Time affected any of my running and conditioning. At no time has Father Time said anything to me.
“I hope Father Time stays where the hell he is.”
Judah last held a prominent title in 2011, when he lost the IBF junior welterweight belt to then-WBA counterpart Amir Khan. Judah was stopped in five by Khan. In 2013, he suffered consecutive losses to Danny Garcia and Paulie Malignaggi. They were the last significant fights Judah has been in over the last six years.
“Zab lost fights because he wasn’t in shape,” said Yoel Judah, Zab’s father and trainer. “He’s in shape for this fight. That’s the mistake Seldin and his people made—they let Zab get in shape. We’re going to take it one step at a time, but after we get through with Seldin, we’re looking for bigger things, like the winner of the Keith Thurman-Manny Pacquiao fight.
“Once Zab get in shape, no one can beat him. Anyone sees Zab, they know he’s ready. Zab went through a handful of sparring partners. They all hit the floor. We definitely want some big fights after this. Thurman, Pacquiao, maybe Mikey Garcia. He trained like an animal for this fight.”
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