At The Crossroads: Judah and Barrett

By Tom Donelson
Updated: December 21, 2007

IOWA CITY, Ia. — About a month ago, Zab Judah fought for something called the IBC junior Middleweight title against Ricky “Dangerous” Davis. For those who don’t know who Dangerous Davis is, he’s a junior middleweight out of St. Louis and mostly he has fought on the Midwest circuit. What he was doing fighting a championship match against a former world champion is any one guess.

Judah is one of those fighters who never quite entered into the elite status of fighters. He knocked on a few doors but in the end, he found the door slammed in his face.

Losses to Baldomir, Mayweather and Cotto sent Judah reeling out of the Welterweight championship hunts. All of these losses were tough fights but they were equally decisive losses. The kind of losses that take something out of a fighter’s career.

Against Davis, Judah showed flashes but he also showed something else, a slight erosion of skills. There was a time that Judah would defeat a fighter like Davis in quick order but on this night, he took 12 rounds to defeat Davis.

The third round was the key round that showed both Judah explosiveness and weakness. In the opening minute, he nailed Davis with a straight right that sent the St. Louis native reeling to the canvas. Judah went for the kill and it looked like the old Judah showed up.

With Judah flashing quick combinations, the end looked near but a Davis right sent Judah reeling and before you knew, Judah was hanging on the rope for dear life. By the end of the round, Judah’s nose was bleeding and the round that started so promising nearly ended in disaster.

Davis and Judah fought an even fourth round as both men landed big punches but after that, Judah used his superior skills and breezed the rest of the way. At this point, Dangerous Davis alternated between survival and occasional offensive burst when Judah rested.

The lesson for Team Judah is simple. Judah has fought some major wars over the past couple of years and the results are starting to show. He still has skills but he no longer is an elite welterweight and the jury is still out if he could mount a serious challenge within the junior Middleweights.

The tolls of Judah’s ring wars are starting to show.

Monte Barrett most recent fight was against Cliff Couser, a fighter who took him to the woodshed in their last fight. It wasn’t that long ago that Barrett was a featured fighter but in his most recent bout, Barrett found himself a fill in fight sandwich between two co-main events.

The first fight ended shortly and both Barrett and Couser found themselves fighting in quick order. If nothing else tells you where your career is headed, when you fall from main events to being a six rounder; your career is fading.

Barrett came out jabbing the first round and won the round easily as he kept Couser at the end of his jab. Halfway through the second round, Couser started to breathe heavy and Barrett took advantage with a sharp combination. With the flash of eye, a three punch combination sent Couser reeling in the rope and from there, it was good night sweet prince.

So what keeps Barrett fighting? The weak nature of the heavyweight division is the one thing that keeps many aging fighters in the ring. Holyfield and Byrd still dream of heavyweight glory despite recent reversal in the ring. In the post fight interview, Barrett said the same thing.

With numerous championship belts, Barrett observed that with the exception of Wladimir Klitschko, the other major contenders have their own weakness. Barrett, who had already failed at the top level, dreams of one more shot at least one championship belt.

At the age of 36, there are very few tomorrows left but Barrett hopes, just like Holyfield hopes or Chris Byrd hopes that for one night, he is 26, not 36. Alas, it will never be; Barrett is on the down side of his career and the skills that were once promising are no longer there to carry him to the top.

Beating Couser is one thing, beating a Sam Peter is another.