Saturday, November 26, 2022  |



Judah stops Santa Cruz on FNF


Zab Judah finishes Jose Armando Santa Cruz along the ropes after dropping the former lightweight contender in the third round of their ESPN2-televised junior welterweight bout on Friday. Photo / Emily Harney-The Fight Source

Zab Judah made his return to the junior welterweight division a successful one by blasting former lightweight contender Jose Armando Santa Cruz in the third round of their ESPN2-televised main event from Newark, N.J., on Friday.

Judah (39-6, 27 knockouts), who weighed in at 141 pounds for the Friday Night Fights feature, dropped Santa Cruz with a flush left uppercut in the final minute of the third round. Santa Cruz (28-5, 17 KOs), who weighed in at 143 pounds for the bout, got up on wobbly legs and was quickly overwhelmed along the ropes by Judah's blistering follow-up attack.

Referee Benji Esteves quickly stepped in and halted the bout at 2:33 of the third round.

“That's my favorite punch right there,” Judah, a former welterweight champ who once held two 140-pound titles, said of the powerful left uppercut that essential ended the fight. “I kept throwing the jab earlier but he kept leaning in, so I hit him with that beautiful counter punch.”

Judah controlled the first two rounds, which took place in front of a good-sized crowd at the Prudential Center, with a busy jab and lateral movement. The 32-year-old southpaw, who was 4-4 in his last eight bouts coming into Friday's fight, was technically sharp and patient.

His vaunted speed and power was also evident and obviously not affected by his drop in weight. Prior to the Santa Cruz fight, Judah had not fought under 143 pounds since December of 2003.

The veteran is now looking forward facing the better fighters of the loaded junior welterweight division.

“We're shooting for the big dogs, Timothy Bradley, Amir Khan, and Devon Alexander,” Judah said. “I don't know what order I'll face them, but that's who I'm aiming for.”

Also on the ESPN2-televised portion of the Main Events/Super Judah Promotions card, 2008 Olympian Sadam Ali (8-0, 4 KOs) stopped Julius Edmonds (7-8) in the third round of a scheduled four-round welterweight bout.

The hot New York City prospect dropped the journeyman with right hands in rounds one and two before overwhelming him midway through the third.

Tall, rangy welterweight prospect Alex Perez (12-0, 7 KOs) outpointed game late-substitute Edvan Barros (10-10-1, 7 KOs) in an eight-round bout that kicked off the Friday Night Fights broadcast. Perez, a raw but gutsy Newark native, won by scores of 77-75, 78-74, and 80-72.