NEW YORK: Danny Garcia unanimously outpointed Brooklyn’s Zab Judah on Saturday night at Barclays Center to retain the WBA and WBC junior welterweight titles.
Garcia (26-0, 16 KOs) dominated the 35-year-old former champion, although Judah came back in the 10th and 11th rounds to land some hard shots and shake the champion from Philadelphia.
The judges scored the fight 116-111, 115-112 and 114-112, with all three giving Judah the last three rounds when Garcia seemed to tire. “I love the atmosphere. I love the fans. In order to take over someone’s territory, you’ve got to beat the guy from there,” Garcia said in the post-fight news conference.
The 25-year-old Garcia was at the receiving end of a hard left-handed shot from Judah in the eighth round. He countered with a left that missed, but immediately connected a right hand that sent Judah to the canvas
Judah (42-8, 29 KOs), who since 2008 has lost to Floyd Mayweather, Miguel Cotto and Amir Khan, came in looking for a win and trying to revive his career after those losses, but looked overmatched against Garcia.
“Actually I was really surprised because I was putting pressure on him with strong, sharp punches,” Garcia said. “He came back strong in the late rounds. He came prepared. He’s been in big fights before.”
A portion of the announced crowd of 13,048 tried to inspire the Brooklyn native with “Ju-dah! Judah!” and a familiar “Brook-lyn! Brook-lyn!” chant that has become synonymous with Nets games in the arena’s first months.
But it wasn’t enough for Judah, whose 140-pound fight was supposed to take place back Feb. 9, but was postponed after Garcia sustained a rib injury. Judah claimed Garcia had faked the injury and had instead been out partying and not training. There was even a standoff between the veteran and Garcia’s father, Angel, who also serves as his trainer.
“It was a helluva fight. I had to beat the Brooklyn guy in his hometown,” Garcia said. “I knew he had a lot of pride behind him. He was never going to give up.”
Coming into the fight, Judah saw Garcia as slow starter. “He started fast in this fight. I wanted to be cautious. I didn’t want to go in there and be throwing wild punches. I wanted to be a scientist in there,” Judah said. “I thought I did a good job.”
Garcia stepped up his attack in the third round and, then in the fourth, landed a flurry of shots, but Judah somehow managed to survive the round.
It was Garcia’s second fight at the Barclays Center after christening the Brooklyn arena Oct. 20 with a victory over Erik Morales.
Martinez keeps WBC title
In Buenos Aires, Sergio Martinez retained his WBC middleweight title, unanimously outpointing Martin Murray on Saturday night despite being sent to the canvas several times by the Englishman.
The three judges all scored the fight 115-112 in favor of the defending champion in his first fight in his hometown in 11 years after fighting mostly in Europe.
Martinez has 53 victories in 55 fights. It was Murray’s first loss in 27 fights.
The bout attracted 40,000 fans despite constant rain at the soccer stadium of Buenos Aires club Velez Sarsfield. Fans got soaked though, but the boxers fought under a canopy.
“Thanks Argentina. Thanks for following me. I love you a lot,”’ Martinez told the fans from a ringside microphone.
The decision likely went the way of Martinez because judges didn’t see enough in the opening rounds from the defensive-minded Englishman.
Martinez explored for openings in the first three rounds, dropping his hands and dancing and daring Murray to break out of his conservative, defensive stance. Murray stayed covered up, but caught Martinez with a powerful right hand late in the third round.
Murray began to go on the offensive in the fourth round but stayed covered up, making it difficult for Martinez to land a punch squarely. In the sixth he pinned Martinez up against the ropes and seemed to taunt the champion before the partisan fans.
Caught by a right hand early in the seventh, Martinez began to change his strategy — dancing less and boxing more.
Murray knocked down Martinez midway through the eighth with a left-right combination, which silenced the home fans and kept the Englishman on the attack.
Murray put more pressure on the in 10th, putting Martinez down again, and repeated the dose in the 11th, but Italian referee Massimo Barrovechio ruled were slips rather than knockdowns. Martinez has been nursing an injured right knee and, at 38, this is likely one of his final fights.