Zab Judah felt dissed that he was made to wait in the bowels of Barclays in Brooklyn on Thursday, so the 35-year-old hitter, set to challenge junior welter champ Danny Garcia Saturday night, said to heck with it. He took his crew and left the building, leaving Garcia to hype the faceoff by his lonesome.
The separate-appearances-at-the-presser concept was put in place by promoter Golden Boy after a Tuesday fan event at Modell's in Brooklyn was crashed by Judah, and he and Garcia father-trainer Angel got into it, in the sporting goods store.
The nastiness was sparked in December, when the two crews nearly rumbled at Gallagher's in NYC, during a presser to announce the scrap.
After Oscar De La Hoya presided over a presser and called Bernard Hopkins, middleweight champ Peter Quillin, challenger Fernando Guerrero, and undercarders Luis Collazo, Marcus Browne, Eddie Gomez, Zach Ochoa to the mic, to let them have their say, the Garcias arrived. Angel called Zab a punk, said his faith wasn't real, and dismissed him as a relic. Danny said he'd beat the s--t out of Judah, and then we waited for Judah to appear. After a few minutes, we got word that Judah had left, that he wouldn't be showing his face. Danny Garcia noted that those present were likely disappointed, because the assumed Angel-Zab faceoff wouldn't happen and coveted YouTube hits wouldn't be secured.
A few minutes after that, we heard that Zab was on his way back, that he would be coming. That he did; Judah, after the Garcias exited, showed up, and immediately lit into De la Hoya. Oscar had called Judah "unprofessional" when media asked his assessment of Judah's refusal to attend the presser. Zab glared at Oscar and asked him why he said that. Oscar gulped water and didn't take the bait, while Bernard Hopkins stood in between the two.
Zab said he left because he'd been waiting with his crew in the basement, with no food or water, for a few hours, and he had enough. But when he saw on Twitter that Oscar had zinged him, he decided to come back, and speak up for himself.
He set his sites on Angel, calling him a "dopehead, an addict or ex addict" and a "custie" who is eager to blow his share of Danny's purse on bad things.
As I was leaving the arena, Judah was talking to the last media present, explaining his side of things, trying to show that he wasn't the bad guy, that he deserves respect, as a 17 year pro.
That is an element of boxing you have to enjoy as a reporter; decades in, and you see something new, another strange and dramatic twist.
I was left wondering if perhaps this whole deal might serve to aid Judah more than Garcia. Zab has a tendency to fade mentally in some big fights, to be less than fully dialed in and focused. Could this pre-fight sparring help him stay fired up, give him some added fuel to keep him hungry and a little angry at Barclays on Saturday? Danny is used to his dad stirring it up, as he did before the Khan fight with ethnic commentary, and before the second Morales fight, when he called Morales a doper, so this is same old for Danny; but for Zab, someone who's been at it a long time, sometimes those guys can use that extra nudge.
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SPEEDBAG Paul Malignaggi, set to defend his welter crown against Adrien Broner in Brooklyn on June 22, was present. He told me he likes Garcia to beat Judah, by stoppage. "But I'm not toally discounting Zab," he said. In the mental sphere is where Zab usually falls short, he said, so we shall see if the Brooklyner can stay strong Saturday.
---WBC supervisor Chuck Williams was present, and monitoring the Judah-left-the-building-no-he didn't drama. He has known Judah for decades, he said, and told me Zab felt disrespected. He said he told Zab that he was making a mistake if he left. "You need to fullfill your obligations," Williams said he told Zab. Williams said each team was asked to bring no more than eight persons with them to the presser, for the record, in order to try and insure that a massive rumble wouldn't occur.
---De La Hoya seems intent on having Sept. 14-Mexican Independance Day be a date owned by Golden Boy. "It's our date," he insisted when asked if Top Rank or Golden Boy would have the upper hand on that date. He said that day could see a fight or fights involving Mayweather, Canelo, Cotto and Sergio Martinez.
---Judah said he was surprised such precautions were taken for the presser; during the heated Mike Tyson-Lennox Lewis promotion and the Felix Trinidad-Bernard Hopkins promotion, the final presser still went ahead, he said.