Let's hope the real Zab Judah shows up

By George Willis


Let's hope the real Zab Judah shows up

NEW YORK--Shannon Briggs and Sultan Ibragimov had a conference call on Thursday to promote their June 2 fight in Atlantic City for the WBO heavyweight title. At least I think it was Briggs and Ibragimov. You can’t be too sure now that Yoel Judah made a mockery of the ritual.


On Wednesday Yoel Judah pretended to be his son Zab Judah during a international conference call for the June 9 showdown between Zab and Miguel Cotto for the WBA welterweight championship at the Garden.  It’s a huge fight, a pay-per-view telecast on the eve of the Puerto Rican Day Parade.


Frankly, it’s a fight Judah doesn’t deserve after losing his welterweight crown to Carlos Baldomir in January 2006 and to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in April 2006.  You’ll recall the Mayweather fight is where Zab Judah fired a low blow to Mayweather’s groin in the 10th round, triggering a near riot. Yoel Judah, who was serving as Zab trainer, entered the ring and threw a punch at Roger Mayweather, who had also entered the ring.


Both Judahs had their licenses revoked for one year by the Nevada Athletic Commission. Zab was fined $250,000 and Yoel $100,000.


Yet, Zab Judah is still a big enough name for Bob Arum’s Top Rank, Inc. to match him against Cotto, hoping the Brooklyn native will help fill the Garden and increase pay-per-view sales.  For Judah, it’s a life preserver, another chance to rejuvenate his career.


So how did the Judahs show their appreciation for a chance at a title? By embarrassing Top Rank.  Yoel Judah perpetrated a fraud by impersonating his son and not making reporters on the call from around the world aware of it.  No doubt there were countless stories written with bogus information. Time was wasted.


For those who don’t know how these things work, normally, a conference call is arranged in the weeks leading up to a fight giving reporters a final chance to speak with the participants. The conference calls provide good hype for the fight and more importantly increase pay-per-view sales.  Wednesday’s call was important for Top Rank, Zab Judah and his new promoter Prize Fight Boxing.


But in what could be the last big fight of his son’s career, Yoel Judah inexplicably tried to pass himself off as Zab Judah.  Throughout the call, Yoel responded: “I’m good,” when someone said, “How you doing Zab?” And he talked a flood of trash about how he was going to whoop Cotto.


Top Rank didn’t know of the hoax until several reporters telephoned after the conference call saying it sounded more like Yoel than Zab.  Top Rank had coordinated the call from its offices in Las Vegas, thinking Zab was on the other end at his training camp outside Memphis.  It took a follow-up call to confirm it indeed was Yoel on the phone.


Top Rank tried to laugh it off.  “I’ve been doing conference calls for Top Rank since 1982 and I’ve never been snookered like this before,” said Top Rank PR man Lee Samuels.


But this wasn’t funny.  Athletes always insist on being quoted accurately and it is the foundation of journalism that all attribution is correct. Yoel Judah made a mockey of that, a mockery of his son and a mockery of himself.


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Send questions and comments to: gwillis@boxingtalk.com