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On This Day: Kostya Tszyu sends Zab Judah into another level of knocked out

A KO that is always worth revisiting.

It’s hard to believe it’s been 20 years since Kostya Tszyu unified the 140 lbs division with Zab Judah in Las Vegas. The fight itself was very short but it produced a knockout that would be meme material for eternity had it occurred in the social media era.

Tszyu flattened the then unbeaten Judah with a right hand in the closing seconds of round two, but the fun has only just begun. Judah could’ve just taken his time instead of springing to his feet well inside of the mandatory eight-count. When Judah arose, he gestured towards referee Jay Nady, then stumbled back down to the mat in a furious disagreement between his mind and his body, and Nady waved the fight off. Judah lost his undefeated record and Tszyu became the undisputed junior welterweight champion.

Watch the video at the top of the page for the normal highlights. Now watch the video again but with commentary from comedian Cedric the Entertainer, who referenced this fight in a stand-up special and created the memorable line, “Don’t ever play with matches.”

Judah’s disbelief at the outcome really went a step further when he threw a stool towards the center of the ring. He also had to be restrained by his corner after he confronted Nady and put his gloved fist against his neck. Nevada suspended him for a year and fined him $100,000 for his actions.

By the way, this was not universally considered a good stoppage. Max Kellerman, a self-admitted Judah fan, was adamant that Zab was the victim of a premature stoppage despite being on spaghetti legs for the entirety of that knockdown. No he wasn’t, Max.

As a reminder to everyone: don’t ever play with matches.