Carlos Baldomir, a lightly regarded Argentine welterweight, scored a stunning 12-round upset over undisputed welterweight champ Zab Judah before a hometown crowd of 4,735 at The Theatre at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night.
Baldomir, who was the WBC mandatory challenger, turned the tables on Judah the same way that Judah flipped the script on Cory Spinks in St. Louis last Feb. 5. On that night, Judah beat Spinks to take the undisputed welterweight title before Spinks' hometown crowd with an 11th-round KO.
Not only did Baldomir (42-9-6, 12 KOs) snatch Judah's WBC title, he also spoiled a multimillion-dollar payday that Judah had planned against Floyd Mayweather Jr. on April 8. While Judah's IBF and WBA belts were not on the line, those titles are now vacant because Judah lost to Baldomir.
Baldomir narrowly defeated Judah (34-3, 24 KOs) on all three judges' scorecards. Judge Guido Cavallieri scored it 115-113, judge Melvina Lathan scored it 115-112 and judge Julie Lederman scored it 114-113. The Daily News scored it 114-113 for Judah.
"C'mon guys, unanimous decision?," said Judah, referring to the judges. "I thought I boxed a good strong fight.
"You get hurt, you weather the storm and fight smart. That's what I did."
After taking shots at Baldomir, Judah also took a shot at Don King.
"I have a dirty promoter," Judah said. "Don King ran me to death doing interviews and TV appearances and I didn't concentrate on the fight."
"This is beautiful," Baldomir said. "A dream come true. I said before that this would be better than a Cinderella story and it is. I am the new Cinderella Man. I thought I had done enough to win, but I was still worried when they were announcing the decision. Judah never hurt me, but I felt I was hurting him."
It was supposed to be a Saturday night stroll in Central Park for Judah. Instead it turned into a midnight mugging as Baldomir staggered him midway through the seventh round and nearly knocked him out. From that point on, Judah was never the same.
In the fifth round, Judah landed some solid shots on Baldomir's chin, which prompted Baldomir to point to it, indicating that it was strong enough to take whatever Judah could land.
Baldomir buzzed Judah with a right to the chin in the seventh round and had Judah moving on legs of a new-born colt. It happened midway through the round and Judah managed to stay on his feet until the round ended. But it was beginning to look like he had miscalculated on just how easy of a mark Baldomir was. And the sound that was reverberating through the Theater was that of dollars flying out the window.
Judah came out in the eighth round a desperate fighter. He was winging as many shots as he could, but few landed. Baldomir, however, wasn't able to take advantage of what he had started in the seventh.
In the co-feature, O'Neil Bell stunned Jean-Marc Mormeck on a KO at 2:50 of the 10th round to become the first undisputed cruiserweight champion since Evander Holyfield in 1988. Though he hurt Mormeck (31-3, 21 KOs) in the seventh round, Bell - a Jamaican who lives in Atlanta - never really took control of the fight until the end. With the victory, Bell (25-1-1, 24 KOs) added Mormeck's WBA and WBC belts to his own IBF title.
"I threw two great right hands in the fourth round that hurt him," Bell said. "He responded with some hard body shots, but I broke him. A lesser fighter would have been stopped by his blows. I was able to sustain his best shots, which broke his spirit. I knew then I would win."
In the final round, Bell stunned Mormeck with three straight rights and sent his mouthpiece flying with a big left. After another series of right hands, Mormeck lurched forward toward the canvas and Bell hit him with a right near the back of the head as he fell. Mormeck toppled over on the mat and rolled over on his back as referee Wayne Kelly waved off the count at seven.
"Obviously I'm a bit upset because I lost my belts, but I'm all right," Mormeck said. "I don't know what changed things. But at a certain point, I realized he was a great champion and he was winning."