Saturday, March 5 could present a major opportunity for Zab Judah.
The 33-year old Brooklyn native is hoping South Africa's Kaizer Mabuza accepts a bid to fight him for the vacant IBF 140-pound title. The title was stripped from previous champ Devon Alexander, who turned down his mandatory defense against Mabuza to fight Tim Bradley on January 29.
Judah earned the right to fight for the belt after earning a split decision win over Lucas Matthysse in an IBF eliminator bout on November 6.
Main Events won the right to promote the fight after putting forth a purse bid of $50,000, ESPN.com reported on Friday. The fight is likely to be held at the Prudential Center in Newark on March 5.
So how does this help Judah?
If Mabuza doesn’t accept the fight, which would pay him just $25,000, according to ESPN.com, the IBF will move on to the next contender, Victor Ortiz. Ortiz, No.3 in the IBF rankings, has built quite a reputation for himself and is certainly one of the top 140-pound fighters in the world.
Ortiz (28-2-2, 22 KOs), who has wins over Vivian Harris, Nate Campbell and Jeffrey Resto, fought Lamont Peterson to a majority draw on December 11.
Outside of Bradley, Alexander, Amir Khan and Marcos Maidana, Ortiz is the next best thing for Judah (40-6, 27 KOs). Even if Mabuza (23-6-3, 14 KOs) decides to take the fight, a win for Judah puts him in the mix for any one of the other top 140-pounders.
He may have to wait, though. Most boxing insiders believe there will be an immediate rematch between Alexander and Bradley. And it is unlikely, at least for now, that Khan would risk a chance at a big-money fight against Alexander or Bradley, against a fighter as dangerous as Judah.
In truth, Mabuza may present the easiest path to the elite of the division for Judah. Ortiz would be a major risk for him. But if Judah wants his name back in lights, a showdown against Ortiz may be his best option.