News May 2007

Cotto V Judah BIO

Even though Zab Judah is one of the fastest-punching fighters ever, it doesn't mean the former undisputed world welterweight champion hasn't had to face and bounce back from adversity. He's had to do it over and over again, having been a boxer since age 6. It is the only job he has ever known. He compiled an extraordinary 110-5 amateur record, was a two-time U.S. national champion, three-time New York Golden Gloves champion and won the 1996 PAL Nationals.

One of nine brothers and two sisters-five of the brothers box-Zab is the son of Yoel Judah, a six-time kickboxing world champion who is also his trainer.

Judah turned pro at age 18 on Sept. 20, 1996, and scored a second-round TKO over Michael Johnson. His next five fights also ended early, including three in the opening round.

Judah captured the interim International Boxing Federation junior welterweight title with a fourth-round KO over Wilfredo Negron Jan. 16, 1999, in Las Vegas. Judah settled down after a wild start and won every round. He knocked Negron down three times in the fourth (all with right hands), before the referee stopped the contest at 1:44 of the round.

Judah received his first shot at a world title when he fought Jan Bergman of South Africa for the vacant IBF light welterweight title on Feb. 12, 2000, at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Conn. Judah came out throwing blistering shots and knocked Bergman down twice in the opening round. The first knockdown came on a right hand that staggered Bergman, which was followed by a grazing left that put Bergman on the canvas again.

It didn't take long for Judah to serve notice that he was still a force to be reckoned with in the 140-pound division. On July 12, 2003, he won the World Boxing Organization junior welterweight crown with a 12-round split decision over defending champion DeMarcus "Chop Chop" Corley in Las Vegas.

Before his Dec. 13, 2003, questions swirled around WBO junior welterweight champion Zab Judah: Is his left hand 100 percent? Will he take Jaime Rangel lightly? Will he remain poised and relaxed, or will he enter the ring too pumped? Before the end of the first-round, Judah left no doubt as to the answers. With a punishing blow to Rangel's temple followed by a right hook, Judah won a dramatic knockout victory just 72 seconds into the fight and made good on his promise to "steal the show" on a night that featured eight championship fights.

Following this dramatic victory, Zab moved up to welterweight to challenge undisputed champion Cory Spinks in an important fight for both men in Las Vegas on April 10, 2004. Judah was stepping up in weight for the first time in his career, and Spinks was out to prove his victory over Ricardo Mayorga to unify the welterweight crown was no fluke. In the 12-round battle that ensued, momentum swung between the two combatants, with both fighters getting knocked down. Some ringside observers felt if the bout lasted another minute, Judah would have prevailed, but the "Spinks Jinx" held. Zab won the respect of the boxing world, but lost the decision to Spinks.

Spinks agreed to the rematch in his hometown of St. Louis at Savvis Center on Feb. 5, 2005. To say Judah was in hostile territory when he entered the ring would be an understatement. What he had on his side was his experience and the type of maturity, at age 27, that only comes with time.

While Spinks attempted to control Judah in the early rounds with his quick stick-and-move style that worked so well for him in their first fight, Judah stalked him relentlessly, forcing a fight on Spinks that he didn't want to participate in. Near the end of round seven, Judah rocked Spinks right at the bell, but referee Armando Garcia ruled it a push. Spinks reeled from Judah's attack in the eighth but held his ground.

Spinks appeared to be fully recovered in the ninth round when Judah scored again with a long left cross that rattled Spinks before Judah immediately dropped a right hook that dropped the undisputed champion. On unsteady legs, Spinks marched on with Judah stalking his wounded prey. In an amazing act of sportsmanship reflecting the tremendous respect these two fighters had for each other, Judah dropped his hands to his waist, imploring referee Garcia to stop him from further injuring his friend.

Miguel Cotto

At the age of 26, Miguel has been fighting as a pro for over 5 1/2 years. He moved up to 147 pounds for the first time in his last fight on December 2 and won the WBA welterweight world title with a very impressive fifth--round TKO win against previously undefeated contender Carlos Quintana.

Boxing columnist Graham Houston wrote, "Now we know that Miguel Cotto is a formidable force at welterweight... Every punch from Cotto seemed designed to do damage -- even the jabs to body and head were forceful drives -- and he switched to southpaw in a very effective way... Cotto was relentless, intelligent and fast in the way he applied pressure... The fact that Cotto won was no surprise to many of us -- what was surprising, to me anyway, was that he made it look almost easy."

After the fight, Miguel said, "As always, I go in to fight my fight and win round by round. In a fight at this level, you expect both fighters to have their moments. He had his and I had mine, but mine were greater. My shots were bigger, and he didn't stand up to it.

"I've always dreamed of being one of the greatest champions from Puerto Rico, like Wilfred Benitez and Felix Trinidad. I am on my way."

Miguel has already become Puerto Rico's biggest star currently in the ring. He won the WBO jr. welterweight world title in September, 2004, and made six successful title defenses before vacating the title to move up in weight. He won Puerto Rico's "Fighter of the Year" award in 2004 and 2005, and has become a strong draw at the gate.

HIs last two fights in Puerto Rico drew capacity crowds of 15,000. Miguel's fight at Madison Square Garden on the eve of the Puerto Rican Day parade in June drew over 14,000. Miguel also headlined at the Garden before the 2005 parade and drew over 10,000 fans.

He is experienced against very good opposition and has beaten former world champions DeMarcus Corley (TKO5), Randall Bailey (TKO6), Carlos Maussa (TKO8), and Cesar Bazan (TKO11). He has also beaten previously undefeated contenders Carlos Quintana (TKO5), Paulie Malignaggi (W12), Ricardo Torres (KO7), and Kelson Pinto (TKO6), as well as contenders Muhammad Abdulaev (TKO9), Victoriano Sosa (TKO4) and Lovemore Ndou (W12).

Miguel said, "I was born in Caguas, Puerto Rico. I have two brothers. I'm the youngest. My father was in the military, in the Natonal Guard here in Puerto Rico for 25 years. My mom stayed at home and teach us how to live.

"When I was 11 years old, my weight was 156 pounds, and I tried to lose weight with boxing. My brothers were already boxing and I tried to do the same. I started at the Gym Bairoa in Caguas. I lost weight, but I started to feel something for boxing. In the beginning, it was just for game, but then I start to feel like, a love for boxing.

"Jose Miguel Cotto is my brother. Juan Miguel boxed amateur, he never changed to professional. In my house, everyone is called Miguel. My father is Miguel Angel, Juan Miguel is my older brother, Jose Miguel is my brother, and me, Miguel Angel. My little kid is Miguel Angel, too. Jose Juan Cotto is my cousin.

"I had 125 amateur fights with 23 losses. I fought Panchito Bojado, Ricardo Williams. I fought Kelson Pinto, Muhammad Abdulaev.

"I was Puerto Rican national amateur champion from '97 to 2000, all at 132 pounds, but the last year at 140.

"I fought with Ivan Calderon when I was amateur, 100 pounds. [note: Calderon is the WBO mini--flyweight world champion] He beat me three to two. After that, we make the team of Puerto Rico to represent Puerto Rico in international competition. We were both in the Olympics in 2000. He's still at 105 pounds. He's, if not the best, one of my best friends."...

2000 Olympics -- Sydney, Australia, 139 pounds: in his first bout on 9--20--00 he lost a 17--7 decision against Muhammad Abdullaev of Uzbekistan, who went on to win the gold medal; looking back, Miguel said, "I felt that I did the best I could at the Olympics. Unfortunately, some judges don't see it that way. But I was very happy with my performance, and I felt that I won that fight."...

1997, 1998, 1999 Puerto Rican National amateur champion, 132 pounds; 2000 Puerto Rican National amateur champion, 139 pounds...Miguel has been called "The greatest amateur boxer ever from Puerto Rico"...

He fought several other top amateurs: Miguel was 2--1 in three fights against Panchito Bojado of Mexico; Miguel said, 'My wins were decisive. One was five to zero and the other was eight to seven. The one that I lost was six to seven."...

2000 USA--Puerto Rico Dual Meet – on 8--15--00 in Tacoma, WA, Miguel won a 28--22 decision against Ricardo Williams Jr....

Miguel returned to the ring in January, 2002, for the first time since being injured a car accident in August, 2001 – driving to a 5:30 A.M. workout, he fell asleep at the wheel and crashed into a concrete wall; he said, "Sometimes I feel the shoulder pain, the shoulder tired. But any other problems about that, no.

"It was a very serious accident. I broke my arm and shoulder in four different places. I think being in the shape I am in really helped." addition to a scar on his right shoulder, he has a six--inch titanium rod in his right arm...

He said, "I'm lefthanded, I do everything with my left hand. The only thing I can do with my right hand is fight. I feel more comfortable fighting righthanded when I'm beginning.

"My wife's name is Melissa. We have three children. Miguel Angel is the older, he's 10. Alondra, she's seven, and Miguel is five."...

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