Mayweather lands 1st shot

Challenger says Judah is silent due to fear of him since sparring



Zab Judah says he has avoided the media because he's focused on defending his International Boxing Federation welterweight title against friend-turned-enemy Floyd Mayweather tonight at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.

Mayweather believes Judah has remained silent because of a sparring session between the fighters two years ago.

"The first round was a feeling-out round," said Mayweather, 29, whom many consider the sport's best fighter, pound-for-pound. "The second round, Zab got to talking, so I put the beat-down on him. It was easy work.

"Now, this is the same guy who talked so much trash, called me a punk and pretty girl. I told everybody I will shut Zab Judah up. I'm just surprised it happened this early."

Mayweather (35-0, 24 knockouts) will be trying to win a world title in his fourth weight class, 147 pounds, after having won at 130, 135 and 140 pounds.

Among those Mayweather has defeated are past and present world champs Jose Luis Castillo, DeMarcus Corley, Diego Corrales, Arturo Gatti, Carlos Hernandez and Sharmba Mitchell.

Judah (34-3, 25 KOs) earned the undisputed world title in February 2005 by defeating Cory Spinks but lost it by losing to lightly regarded Carlos Baldomir in January.

However, Judah, 28, was restored as the IBF's champ after Baldomir's camp refused to pay the organization's sanctioning fee of about $3,000.

Mayweather said their previous sparring session won't cause him to take Judah lightly.

"It's like [junior middleweights] Ross Thompson and Oba Carr," Mayweather said. "Ross Thompson used to dominate Oba Carr in sparring sessions, but once they got under the lights, Oba Carr dominated Thompson."

Although they may not like each other, Mayweather and Judah aren't likely to battle this one out at close quarters. Mayweather is an excellent defensive fighter who has respect for Judah's power.

"I saw Zab knock out his sparring partner, James Crayton, with a frightening left hand," said an observer of one of Judah's recent sparring sessions who requested anonymity. "If he catches Floyd with something like that, the same thing can happen."

Instead, Mayweather is counting on Judah's struggles to maintain his composure in big fights.

There was Judah's loss to Baldomir, against whom he never regained focus after being staggered in the seventh round. There was Judah's November 2001 second-round knockout loss to Kostya Tszyu, after which he attacked and tried to choke referee Jay Nady, claiming Nady stopped the bout too early.

"[Judah's] a hothead," Mayweather said. "I know he's training hard. He'll bring his `A' game. But he can't make mistakes with me. If he makes one mistake, he'll have to pay."

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