LAS VEGAS - Joshua Clottey finally made the most of his precious few title shots, capturing the vacant IBF welterweight championship with a unanimous decision over Zab Judah on Saturday night.
Clottey connected with a right-hand to Judah's left eye in the ninth round that immediately sent blood rushing down his face. Ringside physician Dr. James Game examined Judah, who claimed he couldn't see, and the fight was called at the 1:22 mark.
Clottey was ahead 86-85 on two of the judges' scorecards and 87-84 on the other.
The decision left the roughly 1,800 fans in an uproar. The confident Judah, despite being dominated through parts of the earlier rounds, had landed several combinations in the seventh and eighth and seemed to have momentum on his side.
"This just hurts, man. Everyone here knows who won," said Judah, who has struggled to shake the perception that he's never lived up to his potential. "Zab Judah is the peoples' champion."
Game examined Judah after the punch and said the battered fighter failed numerous eye tests. It was initially ruled an accidental head butt, but replays clearly showed Clottey landing a hard right hand.
"He couldn't identify two or three fingers three times," Games said.
Clottey (35-2), of Ghana, connected on the fight's first significant punches in the fourth round. He landed an uppercut in the opening seconds that caused Judah to lose his balance, and by the end of the round, Judah had blood running down his nose from numerous jabs he couldn't fend off.
Judah (36-6) responded with solid combinations in the middle rounds, the fight turning into an entertaining back-and-forth affair.
It was a fight Judah thinks shouldn't have ended.
"I sacrificed myself for this camp and did my best," Judah said. "He thought I was going to break down, but I didn't. I went ahead and did my best."
Clottey, who entered ranked No. 1 by the IBF and No. 3 by the WBC, won his fifth straight since a loss to Antonio Margarito in a WBO title fight in December 2006.
The 30-year-old Judah was attempting a comeback after his career was derailed by a string of losses and a one-year suspension by the Nevada Athletic Commission for hitting Floyd Mayweather Jr. under the belt in a 2006 bout that started a melee between the two camps. http://sports.espn.go.com/sports/boxing ... id=3516921