Main Events wins rights for Judah fight

Updated: December 31, 2010, 1:06 PM ET
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com

Main Events won the right to promote Zab Judah's vacant junior welterweight title bout against South Africa's Kaizer Mabuza at a purse bid Thursday and intends to stage the bout at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., probably on March 5.

However, that is only if Mabuza accepts the fight for the paltry purse of $25,000 -- the portion of the $50,000 bid he is entitled to.

Mabuza has two weeks to accept the bout or the organization will move on and order Judah to face the next leading contender, Victor Ortiz, IBF president Daryl Peoples said. If Mabuza accepts, the fight is due by March 30.

Main Events, which is based in Totowa, N.J., and puts on most of its shows in Newark, was the only bidder, but on a technicality.

Branco Milenkovic, Mabuza's promoter, submitted a bid but, according to Peoples, it was submitted via e-mail, which is not allowed under the IBF's rules. Bids must be submitted in person or with a check delivered by courier, such as Federal Express or UPS.

Usually in purse-bid situations, a promoter prepares multiple bids and decides which to submit when they see who else shows up at the purse bid. Main Events chief Kathy Duva was prepared to offer more than $100,000 for the fight, but when Milenkovic's bid was disqualified and she was left as the only bidder, she submitted the $50,000 offer.

It comes as a surprise that Milenkovic would submit an improper bid as he has promoted more IBF-sanctioned fights than any promoter in the world in recent years and has participated in numerous purse bids. Peoples said he couldn't explain why Milenkovic submitted his bid improperly.

Main Events likely will work out a deal with Judah that will pay him far more than $25,000 if Mabuza accepts the fight. Main Events will have gate revenue and proceeds from the expected pay-per-view telecast with which to work.

"We are very happy that Zab has the opportunity to fight for the IBF junior welterweight title right here in New Jersey," Duva said. "Winning this fight will put Zab right in the mix with the winner of [Timothy] Bradley-[Devon] Alexander [on Jan. 29] and Amir Khan. Zab will work very hard to win this fight so that he will be one step closer to his ultimate goal of unifying all of the junior welterweight titles by the end of 2011."

Judah (40-6, 27 KOs) is a two-time junior welterweight titleholder and the former undisputed welterweight champion. He returned to the 140-pound weight class -- perhaps the most loaded in boxing -- in July to knock out Jose Armando Santa Cruz and then won a decision in a title eliminator against Lucas Matthysse on Nov. 6.

That victory put him in position to face Mabuza for the belt recently stripped from Alexander, who elected to face Bradley in a far-more lucrative HBO bout than to fight the little-known Mabuza for a fraction of the money.

Mabuza (23-6-3, 14 KOs) had become the mandatory challenger for Alexander in February on the strength of an upset sixth-round knockout of former titlist Kendall Holt.

Judah, 33, is hoping the 30-year-old Mabuza decides to take the fight.

"I think it's going to be a great action-packed fight," Judah said. "He's tough and strong and I know he will come to win. I'll be ready."

Dan Rafael covers boxing for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter.