Saturday, May 14, 2005

Judah successfully defends against Rivera -- No surprise

By JE Grant

Welterweight champion Zab Judah (34-2-1, 25 KOs) easily defended his undisputed title with a third-round knockout of mandatory challenger Cosme Rivera (28-8-2, 20 KOs). He knocked down the challenger early in the first and was in total control throughout.

The fight serves as an embarrassment to the ratings committee of the IBF that somehow came to the conclusion that Rivera was the top welterweight in the world other than the champion Judah. Better than former champions Shane Mosely, Cory Spinks (who was, for some reason moved to the jr. middleweight division), WBO champion Antonio Margarito (yes, I know the organizations don't rate each other's champion -- how ludicrous), or Luis Collazo.

(To confuse the matter even more, of course, Collazo is the WBA "champion" despite the fact that the WBA considers Judah the real "super champion" because he holds multiple belts. To decode that madness, you only need to realize that when Collazo defends his (less-than-super) title, the WBA is there with a hand out expecting a fee. Same goes with a Judah defense of his "super" title).

You'll have to ask the IBF which fight or set of fights led to a number one ranking. Rivera is clearly a journeyman fighter who was never a threat to the undisputed title. His last opponent prior to tonight's fight left the ring with a .500 record after being stopped by Rivera .

All-in-all, it was a waste of time for an undisputed champion. Judah is obviously a top fighter who should be engaging the best in the world; fighters who will enable him to earn major paydays. Everytime a fighter enters a ring, there is risk of injury --- why should Judah be forced to take such a chance against a fighter who has no business being a mandatory challenger?

Prior to this fight, you'll note that in my "May Predictions" column I picked Judah to win by knockout in 2. Okay, so I was off by one round. The real point is, that no champion should be so far above the pack that he should be expected to score a KO in 2 against the so-called number one challenger.

And, Judah indeed is not so far above the best of the welterweight division. He may be the best but certainly some of the real contenders mentioned earlier in this article will give him a stiff test. That's the way it's supposed to be.

Boxing writers and fans, take note of the IBF's rankings and ask them why Rivera was tops. Ask them why Cory Spinks is no longer rated in their welterweight top-ten yet qualifies as a top-ten jr. middleweight without having fought a single fight in that division. Ask them why they choose not to rate the champions of their rival sanctioning bodies (yes, that's a question for all the sanctioning bodies). Ask them why they exist.


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