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Tszyu Sends Judah Packing in a Hurry

Boxing: His blows prompt referee to stop 140-pound title fight in second round despite Judah's protest.

November 04, 2001|STEVE SPRINGER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

LAS VEGAS — The first right hand by Kostya Tszyu, in the closing seconds of the second round Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, staggered Zab Judah.

The second right hand sent Judah crashing onto his back with such force that, upon getting back to his feet, he stumbled around like a sailor trying to walk the deck in a typhoon before collapsing a second time.

But in Judah's mind, the cruelest blow of all was delivered by referee Jay Nady, who ruled that Judah had taken enough punishment and ended the fight even though time had expired in the round, making Tszyu the first undisputed 140-pound champion in 33 years.

For Judah, there was plenty to dispute.

As Nady signaled the fight, which attracted a crowd of 5,127, was over, Judah jumped to his feet and yelled, "No way."

Led to his corner, he battled his way back across the ring, through a wall of handlers and security personnel, lunging at Nady before he was pulled back.

A few minutes later, when ring announcer Jimmy Lennon Jr. declared Tszyu (28-1-1, 23 knockouts) the winner, Judah picked up a chair and hurled it across the ring in Nady's direction.

Later in his dressing room, after he had calmed down, Judah, who suffered his first loss to drop to 27-1 with one no-contest and 21 knockouts, expressed regret over his behavior.

"It was a big fight," Judah said. "Emotions are high. For anything I may have done to the referee or anybody else, I apologize.

"But I'm in a world title fight and I was never given a chance to get a count. He pops you once, you fall and that's it?

"That's crazy. How could he stop the fight like that? This is a world title fight. That was wrong. Why did he do it? I could have fought on."

Nady said his concern was the damage Tszyu's punch appeared to cause.

"I stopped the fight," Nady said, "because I was concerned he might get hurt after getting hit with a very powerful punch that appeared to render him momentarily unconscious.

"I have no second thoughts."

Gary Shaw, Judah's promoter, is filing a protest with the Nevada State Athletic Commission, maintaining that Judah was never given a count.

Shaw said that, since the second round was over, Judah, had he been given a count, would have had the opportunity to get up, get to his corner and clear his head.

Marc Ratner, executive director of the Nevada commission, said he would look at tapes of the postfight chaos before deciding if any disciplinary action would be taken again Judah.

The fight had been billed as Judah's speed against Tszyu's power.

"Speed was not a factor," Tszyu said. "I have more power than him."

That's wasn't true in the first round. Using his quickness, a good jab and a stiff left uppercut, Judah won the round, the uppercut leaving Tszyu with wobbly legs.

In the second round, Judah backed off a bit and Tszyu tried to move and do some damage. But, for 2 minutes 50 seconds, he didn't do much.

Then came the two devastating punches.

"It is a great accomplishment for me," Tszyu said. "This is my destiny. I am now part of history. I have put myself on top in the pound-for-pound list.

"I have trained hard for this moment. It would never have happened without hours and hours of preparation."

Tszyu theorized that Judah wasn't as well prepared.

"I thought he was cold," Tszyu said, "that he wasn't really ready. But he is a young kid. He will be able to come back. Zab can be very good."

Although there was no rematch clause in the contract, Judah's handlers were, of course, pushing for one after calm had been restored.

So, too, was Jay Larkin of Showtime, which televised Saturday's fight.

Larkin was proposing a second fight in February.

"It would be a megafight," Larkin said. "And if there is a second fight, this would be one hell of an appetizer."

Inevitably, someday someone will make it into the fourth round against Francisco "Panchito" Bojado.

Saturday was not that day.

Bojado, the hottest young property in boxing, defended his World Boxing Council junior-welterweight title by stopping Mauro Lucero (34-9-1, 22 knockouts) at 2:14 of the first round of a scheduled 10-rounder.

The victory increased Bojado's record to 9-0, all by knockout.

And of those opponents, only David Montes made it into the third round against Bojado, who grew up in East Los Angeles.

Saturday night's fight ended when Bojado landed a left hand on Lucero's right temple. Lucero backed up as Bojado threw two more punches, both of which missed.

Before Bojado could throw another one, Lucero, in a delayed reaction, crumpled against the ropes and was counted out.

He was taken to a nearby hospital to check for a possible fractured bone above his right eye.

"I knew I didn't hit him with my best shot," Bojado said. "When he went down, I thought for sure he was getting up.

"I was a little disappointed. I trained hard for this fight. I expected it to go at least two, three, maybe four rounds."

Maybe someday.

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