Judah looks to Whitaker for guidance while training at his camp in Las Vegas (Photo courtesy of Main Events).
As Zab Judah (40-6, 27 KOs) closes in on the final weeks of preparation for an upcoming IBF Junior Welterweight Championship Fight against Kaizer Mabuza (23-6-1, 14 KOs), he hopes that a new addition to his camp will help him secure the currently vacant title on March 5th. Now working alongside Judah is seven-time world champion Pernell Whitaker, who sat in with the media on a conference call to discuss his relationship with the WBO NABO Junior Welterweight Champion.
"It's been a phenomenal four weeks so far with Zab,” Whitaker reflected. “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."
This union marks the first time that this duo has worked together exclusively, and Whitaker says that he sees a newer version of Judah in training.
"You can't even imagine the feelings I am having right now about this kid,” he stated. “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."
Whitaker feels Judah is much more focused now at the age of 33-years-old than he was earlier in his career, and that determination is something he has been looking to capitalize upon in the preparation for Mabuza.
"Zab had a different mentality,” Whitaker confirmed. “It's not Zab's style being a knock out 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."
Obviously an extremely accomplished fighter when he used to lace up his boots himself, Whitaker feels he has the exact knowledge that can bring Judah to the top of his game.
"I'm a scientist now,” he commented. “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."
And while he applies his personal experience in training, Whitaker says he feels it is very important to strictly use what works best for Judah himself.
"I don't train guys to be like me. I help guys to do the things that work for them,” he said. “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."
This championship bout is slated to be a 12-round affair, and Whitaker is making sure Judah is ready to go the distance if necessary.
"If the fight is scheduled 12 rounds, we're prepared to go 12 rounds,” he remarked. “My job is to make sure he's ready to give you people 12 solid rounds. If anything less happens, that's just a tribute to his hard work."
This championship fight will mark the inaugural event at the AmeriHealth Pavilion, which is located inside Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. The co-feature event on this card features undefeated former U.S. Olympian Sadam Ali (11-0, 6 KOs), who will face Juliano Ramos (16-4, 13 KOs).