Have We Finally Seen the End of Zab Judah After Loss to Paulie Malignaggi?

Lyle Fitzsimmons@@fitzbitzFeatured ColumnistDecember 8, 2013

Dec 7, 2013; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Zab Judah (red trunks) and Paulie Malignaggi (black trunks) box during their NABF Welterweight Title bout at Barclays Center. Malignaggi won via unanimous decision.Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Sure, it would have been a musical faux pas of Philly to Brooklyn magnitude.

But as Zab Judah exited the Barclays Center ring early on Sunday morning, it would have been an ideal moment to cue up a classic, old-school Boyz II Men jam to accompany him and his team on their long, disappointed slog back to the dressing room.

After 12 maddeningly ineffectual rounds with a light-hitting but insistent Paulie Malignaggi, it was clear the man once known as “Super Judah” had irrefutably reached the "End of the Road."

And it wasn’t just a frustrated capacity crowd in Brooklyn that thought so.

Nearly every member of a multimicrophoned Showtime broadcast team shoveled dirt on Judah’s inactive carcass at some point during his 36 minutes with the “Magic Man,” labeling him anywhere from “outhustled” to “ineffective” to “disinterested” as the proceedings wore on.

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 07:  Paulie Malignaggi punches Zab Judah during their fight for the NABF welterweight title at the Barclays Center on December 7, 2013 in the Brooklyn Borough of New York City.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

Judges Michael Pernick, Adelaide Byrd and Max De Luca made it official from their ringside stools, scoring the proceedings 116-111, 117-110 and 117-110, respectively.

This Bleacher Report scorecard, incidentally, had it 118-110—or 10 rounds to two.

Still, Judah stubbornly insisted it was a product of Malignaggi’s absence of malice, and not the competitive shortcomings of a 36-year-old man in his 18th year as a professional fighter.

“He didn’t want to engage in the fight,” Judah said to Showtime’s Jim Gray in a mid-ring, post-fight interview. “He was working on his jab and sliding around. He did a great job staying outside and boxing while I was trying to fight.”

It was the predictable logic of a man who’d just suffered the ninth loss of a 53-fight career.

But it also proved denial was about the only world-class skill he has left.

Already a loser, albeit an occasionally spirited one, in two of his past three fights, Judah entered the fray Saturday evening after making perpetual fight-week claims that Malignaggi—with just seven KOs in his previous 32 wins—simply didn’t offer enough deterrent to blunt his force.

“He ain’t got nothing to hold me off,” he told The Ring’s Tim Smith.

“It’s been proven from the past if you don’t have anything to hold Zab Judah back he’s going to come and he can punch. We’re going to see.”

Turns out he was right, after all.

Paulie came. We saw. Zab's finished.

While he might still have dizzying power in the straight left hand and a warrior’s mentality in his heart of hearts, the former two-division world champion simply no longer possesses the motor that’s necessary to compete for 12 rounds against the best in the business and win.

Enough to swipe a few late rounds after Danny Garcia had worked his way to an insurmountable lead? Absolutely. Enough to score a dubious knockdown and perhaps grab another round when the mood struck him to actually let his hands go against Malignaggi? Certainly.

But enough to strike even a sliver of fear into the truly elite class at welterweight, circa 2013—namely Mayweather, Bradley, Broner and Pacquiao? Not a chance.

Saturday proved the fighter who'd scurried back to relevance after previous post-mortems named Tszyu, Spinks, Baldomir, Cotto and Clottey is gone for good. All that remains these days is a still-willing, still-conditioned shell only good enough for a tier far below what has already been achieved.

In a business where staying too long comes at a price far costlier than legacy, it’s not worth it.

Stand down, Zab Judah. So long, boxing's cockroach.