Mayweather’s Performance Was Lost Somewhere Between a Low Blow and a Rabbit Punch

By Elissa Harrison
Updated: April 14, 2006

Roger Mayweather (white and red jacket) chokes Zab Judah, officials try to break them up...Photo Credit: D M Warr/DKP

Roger Mayweather (white and red jacket) chokes Zab Judah, officials try to break them up...Photo Credit: D M Warr/DKP

FLORIDA—There is no question that many boxing people had seemingly lost interest in what had been anticipated as a mega fight between Zab Judah and Floyd Mayweather, Jr., courtesy of one tough Argentinean by the name of Carlos Baldomir, who obviously didn’t get the memo.

Baldomir, plodding but perseverant, beat the mouth from Brooklyn and almost derailed Judah’s train, which was rapidly losing steam and fan base. The great public relations teams that represent these fighters got to work on what they do best, the hype. Once enemies and now bedfellows, we saw warm pictures of Don King and Bob Arum hugging each other, smiling, a match made in heaven -or hell- depending on which team you believed.

Good ol’ boxing fans that we are, we fell for the hype -again- at a near $50. We began to salivate like Pavlov’s experimental animals and actually, by Saturday morning most of us couldn’t wait for night time to be entertained by these two young men who have been adored and despised, underrated and overrated and overall, perceived as sworn enemies and thugs-wanna-be. Egos were going to collide, and when the dust had settled only one man’s arm was going to be raised in victory.

I am sure that by now you have read all about the lefts and the rights, the hooks and the jabs that made it a very interesting and rather competitive fight, until the 10th round that is… It is the events that took place in that fateful round that I would like to address in this report. (By the way, I am glossing over the fact that Floyd’s glove touched the canvas in the 2nd round following a punch that caught him off balance and no knockdown was called).

Going into the 10th round, Judah was behind on the cards. Mayweather was now putting on a clinic, after being tagged and seriously challenged by Judah in the first 4 rounds of the fight. Judah looks like he has been in a fight, his face is swollen, he is clearly hurt, tired and pretty much in need of a knockout to win the fight.

Dad Yoel, never at a loss for words, now opts to whisper instructions in his son’s ear between rounds, being very careful that his words are not picked up by the mic he is wearing. For a man who cherishes an audience, I thought that was rather uncharacteristic behavior.

With Mayweather’s continued attack, which by now is becoming very accurate and hurtful, Zab Judah aims and scores one of the most intentional low blows I have ever witnessed. When Floyd Jr. bent down in obvious pain, Judah completed the daily double with a flush hit to the back of the head of an unsuspecting Floyd Mayweather, Jr.

Richard Steele grabbed Judah and called for time but called the low blow unintentional and by his own admission, claimed he didn’t see the deliberate rabbit punch.

I think that if you are going to match up two young men, both doted with great speed of hand and foot, perhaps the Commission could set politics aside and appoint a referee that can at least keep up with the punches thrown, particularly those south of the border. Furthermore, if Steele really feels that the low blow was not intentional and didn’t see the rabbit punch that was thrown right in front of him, with the worst of intentions and as blatantly as can be, perhaps he should have stayed retired.

Granted that hindsight is always 20/20, and yes, referees must make judgment calls in seconds, without the benefit of a replay or backup. I understand that they are human and make mistakes. I understand that the adrenaline rush, the pressure they work under must be something to behold as well. Nevertheless, I also feel that had Richard Steele taken the proper action, which should have been to penalize Judah immediately, Roger Mayweather would have never stepped into the ring. While there is no way of knowing what could have or would have happened, the truth of the matter is that Steele lost control of one fighter and the fight as well, and it all went downhill after that.

Blame for the melee that ensued has been pegged mostly on Floyd’s trainer/uncle and former champion Roger Mayweather, who having witnessed the course of events described above, climbed up in the ring, challenging Judah to a little action of their own. He was quickly followed by his assistant. It is clear at this point that the referee has lost control, and now Yoel Judah jumps in the ring as well, along with some of their team members.

Roger is choking Judah and police officers, security personnel, and NSAC inspectors are struggling to break the hold Roger has on Judah. It is a messy and frightening scenario, and for a second it looked like an all out riot was imminent. Much to his credit, while all this was going on, Floyd Jr. remained in a neutral corner, looking somewhat stunned and in total disbelief.

Remember Kostya Tszyu-Zab Judah and referee Jay Nady? I think it’s fair to say that Judah outdid himself this time. Yoel Judah got his son under control during the Nady episode, but this time around, I feel that he helped fueled the fire, although he is not the only one that should be blamed for that. Let’s go back to ring entrances, to presentations and decision announcements. High profile commissions have seemingly made allowances for all the ghetto fabulous behavior that usually precedes these matches. Rappers, dancers, family members, wives, boyfriends and girlfriends have become a common staple inside the squared circle. Fights have broken out and folks have gotten hurt; nevertheless the improper conduct seems to be condoned and in some cases, even encouraged.

Technically speaking, when a trainer jumps in the ring during action time his fighter gets disqualified; however, it is also true that once you get the ball rolling it’s hard to stop its momentum. Roger, Zab and Yoel had been trashing each other for days, much to the delight of the media, the promoters, etc. So, who do we blame for the frustration Roger must have felt when Judah landed his best punches of the night, a low blow and a rabbit punch, neither one of which he was penalized for?

Minutes went by before order was restored and the fight continued as if nothing had ever happened. In the end, Mayweather scored a unanimous decision, and now claims the IBF welterweight championship as his own. More importantly, he continues to cement his legacy, and although this was not a perfect performance, it did show that if nothing else Floyd Jr. has matured a lot, and can behave like a true champion.

The Nevada State Athletic Commission has held the fighters’ purses and will conduct an ‘investigation’ into the situation this Thursday, April 13. (Yawn)

Don’t expect much to happen…