Zab Judah to fight Michael Clark
Zab Judah, who made a successful return to the junior welterweight division last month, would like to fight one of the top 140-pounders, but can't get any of them to get into the ring with him. So Judah will fight somebody who will, Michael Clark.
Judah (39-6, 27 KOs), a former two-time junior welterweight titlist and the former undisputed welterweight champion, will meet Clark on Oct. 2 at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.
"I know he's coming to win," Judah told ESPN.com on Monday from Las Vegas, where he's training with Eddie Mustafa Muhammad. "I'm just excited. I'm back in training. Me and Eddie have been in the gym putting in the work. I am looking to go in there and show the world that I am back and that I am the best 140-pounder in the world."
Brooklyn, N.Y., native Judah, 32, fought at the Prudential Center on July 16 in his first fight since reuniting with his original promoter, Main Events, and knocked out Jose Armando Santa Cruz in impressive fashion in the third round.
It was Judah's first fight since deciding to return to the junior welterweight division after several years as a welterweight. He weighed 141 pounds against Santa Cruz for the non-title match. The contract for the scheduled 10-rounder against Clark is 142 pounds, but Judah said he plans to weigh 140 to show others in the division that he is serious about fighting in the weight class.
"I felt great in the Santa Cruz fight," Judah said. "For this fight here, I will come in at 140. I'm feeling good. Whenever I step in the ring, it will always be an exciting night. I'm making a promise that it will be a dynamic performance. I am mentally and physically ready."
Judah would like to fight one of the titleholders -- Devon Alexander, Timothy Bradley or Amir Khan -- but they have not shown interest. Alexander and Bradley might fight each other Jan. 29.
"With the performances of Bradley and Alexander [in their recent fights], I consider myself the best guy in the division," Judah said. "Those guys know with me back at 140 that my eyes are set on them, Devon, Bradley and Khan. I don't know when or which order they will be taken in, but there will be order in the court. I am looking to be undisputed champion at 140 pounds."
Main Events promoter Kathy Duva said she tried to sign several name opponents to face Judah and also let HBO know that he was willing to fight any of the titleholders, all of whom have been fighting on the network. She said she was rebuffed by all of them.
"We offered the fight to Juan Urango, Victor Cayo, Paulie Malignaggi, Lucas Matthysse, Julio Diaz, Kendall Holt and Joel Casamayor," Duva said. "None of them were interested."
Besides Alexander, Bradley and Khan, Duva said Judah was willing to fight interim titlist Marcos Maidana, Victor Ortiz, Robert Guerrero and lightweight champ Juan Manuel Marquez or former titlist Juan Diaz if they wanted to move up to junior welterweight.
"HBO knows we are willing to fight any of them, but I was told the only way I was going to get Zab on HBO was to fight on one of Golden Boy's dates since they have the dates and they have most of those fighters," Duva said.
Duva also said she got a call from Lou DiBella, promoter for welterweight titleholder Andre Berto, offering Judah a fall fight.
"Zab came down from welterweight because he had been fighting in a division he was too small for for a long time and he isn't going to make that mistake again," Duva said. "I told Lou if Berto wants to come down to 140, we can make the fight right now. But that isn't something he's interested in, which is fine. But we are not going to wait until these guys are willing to fight Zab. We went after just about everyone in the top 10, so it's frustrating. So we give Michael Clark a lot of credit because he's willing to fight Zab. He should be given credit. People want to fight Zab at 147, but not at 140, so that's where we are."
Duva is confident that with a strong performance against Clark, Judah will eventually land another big fight.
"Zab needs to just keep putting together wins like he did in July with the idea to get a fight against one of the big guys in the division and eventually his marketability will trump their reticence to fight him," said Duva, who added that television plans for the Oct. 2 card were in the works. "Outside guys who have belts, he's the best in the division and we'd like guys to fight him. That's what this is supposed to be about, fighting the best fights, not looking for an easy fight."
Clark (40-5-1, 18 KOs), 37, of Columbus, Ohio, fought for a lightweight belt in 1999 and was knocked out in the fifth round by Artur Grigorian. In 2006, he was on "The Contender" reality series and eliminated after losing a welterweight bout to future junior middleweight titlist Cornelius "K9" Bundrage. Clark is 4-0-1 with a no contest in his last five bouts since suffering a wrist injury in a first-round loss to Mike Alvarado in December 2007.
Dan Rafael covers boxing for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter @danrafaelespn.
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