The judges had a tough task in scoring this junior welterweight pairing.
Judah Hands Matthysse First Professional Loss
Zab Judah (40-6, 27 KOs) was able to narrowly overcome a stout Lucas Matthysse (27-1, 25 KOs) by the slimmest of margins on Saturday night at Prudential Center, handing the Argentine junior welterweight his first professional loss. In what was a highly contested affair, a single point was the difference on each of the three judges’ score cards in a tight split decision victory for the Brooklyn native.
“He was very strong,” Judah said at the post-fight press conference. “He felt very big, but I stuck to my game plan. I was using my jab and just kept flying around. And with that, I know he felt he wanted to step in there and let some big shots go, but the jab just kept him off balance.”
This bout was an extremely tough affair to score, as was evidenced when the final count came from the ringside judges. The action moved at a surprisingly slow pace for the majority of the 12 rounds, and the Prudential Center fans rained in their disapproval a handful of times during the fight. Judah looked to use crafty footwork to roll off his jab while not allowing himself to be too openly exposed, and Matthysse stalked with an ambition of landing some power punches. The lone knockdown in this match came in the 10th round when Matthysse attacked Judah with a flurry at the one-minute mark, eventually dropping the Brooklyn resident with a hard right hand. Judah was able to return to his feet and finish out the bout, using his superb fitness to recover from the damage. Matthysse put on added pressure in the latter rounds, which he felt was good enough to secure the win, but the final tallies told a different story.
When the judges revealed their score cards, Matthysse took one of the decisions with a 114-113 count, but Judah emerged victorious after the other two ringside officials scored it 114-113 in his favor.
“Definitely, I won the fight,” Matthysse stated through a translator at the end of the night. “I was at his home, his hometown, and he got the home decision. I believe I did an excellent job. I’m very proud of myself. I believe definitely I won, and everybody saw that I won, besides the judges and some promoters.”
One of the promoters who agreed with the final decision was Main Events CEO Kathy Duva, who addressed the controversy at the post-fight press conference.
“I think I’m going to address the elephant in the room,” she sternly remarked. “I haven’t looked at the judges’ score cards, but I’m told they’ve agreed on all but one or two rounds, which is pretty remarkable. I think that’s a testament to the fact that the New Jersey Commission and their judges do an excellent job. They’re as good as any in the world, if not the best.”
Obviously pleased with the result, a respectful Judah was quick to applaud the effort of his opponent, and he also insisted that fight fans have not seen the last of Matthysse.
“I don’t want to say anything about nothing going on, but he (Matthysse) is the strongest fighter that I’ve ever fought,” Judah commented. “The dude was punching like he had cinder blocks in his gloves. That’s no joke.”
As a result of this win, the stock of Judah will rise in a loaded junior welterweight division, but the former undisputed welterweight champion will likely have to wait on the outcome of some upcoming bouts to find out who his next opponent will be. As for Matthysse, the loss coupled with his significant power may actually hinder him from being able to find worthwhile opposition, but he proved tonight that he is completely deserved of another big-time fight.