Judah and father fined, both lose license for year
Former welterweight champion Zab Judah and his father and trainer, Yoel Judah, were fined and had their licenses revoked by the Nevada Athletic Commission on Monday for their roles in an April 8 melee that erupted during Zab Judah's fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr.
The commission came down the hardest on Zab Judah, who was fined $250,000 -- his entire cut of the $1 million paid by Top Rank to promoter Don King to deliver Judah for the fight -- and had his boxing license in Nevada revoked for one year.
Yoel Judah was fined $100,000 and also had his license revoked for a year. He and Zab can reapply for licenses April 8, 2007.
"I'm happy it's over but I thought it was very unfair," Yoel Judah told ESPN.com. "We stated our case and they gave us the hardest penalties. They came down hard on us. It was bad. They said they were trying to make a statement."
Zab Judah told ESPN.com that he was shocked at how harshly he was punished.
"I thought it was crazy," he said. "I don't think it was fair. A lot of BS was involved. I thought I'd get $100,000 fine and maybe a four-month suspension. I was very surprised at how harsh they were. They gave me the maximum out of everyone and Roger [Mayweather] started the whole thing."
In addition, Leonard Ellerbe, a Mayweather adviser and one of his cornermen, was fined $50,000 and had license suspended for four months. His license will be re-instated Aug. 19.
All three were involved in the 10th-round brawl that came close to igniting a full-scale riot inside the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
The incident happened with five seconds remaining in the 10th round when Roger Mayweather, Floyd's uncle and trainer, entered the ring because he was upset at Zab Judah, who had hit his nephew with a blatant low blow followed by a right hand to the back of the head, both dangerous and illegal punches.
As referee Richard Steele called timeout to give Mayweather a chance to recover, Roger Mayweather stormed toward Judah, which prompted Yoel Judah to also enter the ring. He went straight for Roger Mayweather and threw a punch at him.
Seconds later, the ring was filled with members of the fighter camps, including Ellerbe, and security forces in a scary free-for-all that came close to sparking a riot among the 15,170 fans in the arena.
During the melee, Zab Judah hit Ellerbe behind head and charged through two Nevada inspectors.
After several minutes, order was restored and the fight continued. Floyd Mayweather eventually won a unanimous 12-round decision.
"I was really shocked, especially for Zab, at how bad the penalties were," Yoel Judah said. "Zab thought I was being attacked [by Roger Mayweather] and he came to my rescue."
A few days later, Roger Mayweather was fined his entire paycheck, $200,000, and had his license revoked for a year.
At Monday's regular commission meeting, the final one in the tenure of longtime executive director Marc Ratner, the rest of the punishments were doled out.
"They all apologized, and I think it was sincere. It was tough day," said Ratner, who is leaving his post May 13 for an executive position with the Ultimate Fighting Championship. "Everyone handled it very professionally. None of the licensees left smiling. The commission felt that it wanted to send a very strong message. This incident was so close to a full-scale riot that innocent people could have gotten hurt or maimed. The commission felt very, very strongly that this cannot happen again."
The commission didn't punish Ellerbe as harshly as the others because he didn't throw any punches during the altercation, Ratner said.
Zab Judah's previous history in Nevada worked against him, Ratner said. Judah was suspended for six months and fined $75,000 following a 2001 TKO loss to Kostya Tszyu. After that loss, Judah was so enraged by referee Jay Nady's stoppage that he threw a ring stool at Nady and shoved a gloved hand under Nady's chin.
"It all comes into play," Ratner said.
Also at Monday's meeting, Roger Mayweather's appeal of his punishment was denied.
"We heard Roger's appeal and nothing was changed," Ratner said.
The suspensions extend throughout the United States because states generally honor suspensions in other states. However, because none are medical suspensions, but rather for disciplinary reasons, Ratner said that it would be up to each state to decide whether it would license any of those punished.
Yoel Judah said he hadn't made up his mind about appealing the ruling.
Zab Judah said he didn't plan to appeal.
"Nah, what's done is done," he said. "Can't cry over spilled milk. I'll just move on and pray for better things."
Dan Rafael covers boxing for ESPN.com.