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Sunday Punch: Kostya Tszyu’s unforgettable knockout of Zab Judah

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Don’t ever play with matches.

There are certain classic sports moments that I wish could’ve happened during the current era of social media. If there’s a specific meme-worthy boxing knockout that I know Twitter would’ve had a field day with for weeks to come, it’s Kostya Tszyu vs. Zab Judah.

We’re two days shy of the 19-year anniversary of Tszyu stopping Judah to become the undisputed junior welterweight (140 lbs) champion. Tszyu had the WBA and WBC titles, whereas Judah was the IBF champion and entered the contest unbeaten. Kostya’s only defeat came in a stunning upset against Vince Phillips back in 1997, but otherwise he was an absolute force.

In the closing seconds of round two, the Australian landed a good right hand on the American, but then the next right hand he landed put Judah on the floor. Zab hilariously got up way too quickly, seemingly yelled something at referee Jay Nady, stumbled back to the canvas and the fight got waved off.

You can watch the video at the top of the page, with appropriate and iconic commentary from comedian Cedric the Entertainer, along with the actual broadcast footage from Showtime Boxing.

Tszyu (31-2, 1 NC) retired after a stoppage loss to Ricky Hatton in 2005. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2011 and his son Tim is now a contender at 154 lbs. Judah (44-10, 2 NCs) was forced into retirement in 2019 after suffering a brain bleed in a defeat vs. Cletus Seldin. I’m pretty certain he’ll also be in the HOF at some point, having unified welterweight titles in 2005.

Don’t ever play with matches.