Ring legend Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker spoke to reporters Thursday about Zab Judah’s training camp progress in preparation for his March 5th IBF jr. welterweight title against Kaizer Mabuza at the Prudential Center’s AmeriHealth Pavilion, Newark, NJ. Judah has been frequently compared to fellow southpaw, Whitaker, who was also promoted by Main Events, and “Sweet Pea” says he’s taking Zab to a whole new level. “You can’t even imagine the feelings I am having right now about this kid (Judah),” said Whitaker. “He’s like a student all over again, it’s like re-teaching the guy some of the best things about himself. Nobody probably knows better than me, other than his father, about his fight game. It’s been easy for me to give him the transformation to do all the things I know he can do very well, and to please the crowd.”
He continued, “Zab had a different mentality (before training with Whitaker). It’s not Zab’s style being a knockout artist and trying to prove that he could punch. He’s a finesse fighter, he has probably the quickest hands in the sport and he has power. So he has to let all those things come together.
“I’m a scientist now, I’m not a boxer, but I was a legend, I wasn’t just a boxer. I knew the game from A to Z. You can come to me with your opinion, but I know the facts. So what I’m doing with this young man is giving him the facts. If I think something don’t work, we won’t do it. I don’t take no risks, there’s no carelessness.
“I don’t train guys to be like me, I help guys to do the things that work for them. If I can teach you how to hit and not get hit, then that’s a blessing for you. Zab has the same abilities that I have but Zab still has to put it together and do it the way that Zab knows how to do it.”
“If the fight is scheduled 12 rounds, we’re prepared to go 12 rounds. My job is to make sure he’s ready to give you people 12 solid rounds. If anything less happens (rounds) that’s just a tribute to his hard work.
“I’m a defensive fighter. That’s the first thing I’m going to remind him of, how to not get hit. That’s the main goal. To hit and not get hit is a beautiful feeling.
What does Zab have to do to get to the top of his 140lb division?
“All he has to do is stay focused. He’s transformed into something totally different than I’ve seen in old Zab. He’s a new father, he has a beautiful family, he’s into his church thing and his religion. He’s just more settled down than the Zab that I’ve seen in the past. When he boxes the way he knows how to box, I can’t see nobody in this division out-boxing Zab.
“I think (in the past) the head butts have been his biggest downfall. He’s been through a couple of those. So it’s my main focus to keep his head out of there. Keep him out of trouble; keep him out of danger spots.
“It’s been a phenomenal 4 weeks so far with Zab. He’s been looking me right in the eye cause he wants to know these things. He wants to get it down right. So now I’m gonna put all those things together; the finesse; the speed; and the power that he does have. I want to put all three of those things together into one and let him work it out March 5th. What you’re gonna get this time is some good boxing, some great defense and a good jab.
“I haven’t seen anything exciting in the sport in a long time, but I know I will on March 5th when I see this young man (Judah) go out there and do ‘me’ all over again. You’re gonna see Zab Judah perform out there.”
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Promoter Kathy Duva compared working with Zab in the past to working with Zab now.
“Wow, it’s completely different and yet in some ways it’s the same. He’s still got the energy and he’s still fun, but he’s so much more grown up now. He’s a grown man. It’s very different in that respect. Before that we were literally trying to corral him. We were dealing with a teenager and now we’re dealing with a guy who knows who he is, what he wants, where he’s going and sees what he has to do to get there. It’s a wonderfully different experience in that respect.
“Now, having brought Pernell into the picture, it’s one of those moments where we say ‘why didn’t we think of this earlier?’ Still when you send them to camp you really don’t know what’s going to happen, but I heard Zab speaking today and you can hear it in his voice. He’s got so much more confidence. He’s so on top of it. He referred to how, in the gym yesterday everything came together all at once. I know that anyone who has to learn something difficult realizes that that’s how you learn. You struggle for a while and then suddenly everything clicks into place. When I heard him say that, it just made my day that means it really is working. I can’t wait to see him fight.”
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The March 5th card featuring Zab “Super” Judah vs. Kaizer Mabuza for the IBF World Jr. Welterweight title is promoted by Main Events and Super Judah Promotions. An exciting undercard will also feature Sadam “Worldkid” Ali, as well as Tarvis Simms and 5 other local standouts. The fights will take place at Prudential Center’s AmeriHealth Pavilion, Newark, NJ.
Doors open at 7:30pm; first fight 8:00pm. Tickets priced at $253 Ringside, $103 Reserved seating on floor, $88 General Admission in Bleachers and $53 GA Standing Room on floor. Tickets on sale 2/5, available at Prudential Center Box Office, by calling TicketMaster at 800-745-3000 or www.Prucenter.com
Judah vs. Mabuza will be distributed in North America by Integrated Sports Media for live viewing at 9 PM/ET 6 PM/PT on both cable and satellite pay per view via iN Demand, DIRECTV, Avail-TVN and DISH Network in the United States, as well as Viewer’s Choice, Shaw and Bell TV in Canada, for a suggested retail price of only $29.95