04/09/2006 11:00PM

Mayweather-Judah bout went wild

Email

Saturday night's Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Zab Judah welterweight title fight at the Thomas & Mack Center was billed as "Sworn Enemies." That was true, as the two showed their distaste for each other, but a more appropriate title would have been "Family Feud."

Mayweather, a 1-5 favorite, took Judah's IBF title belt with a dominating performance that further solidified his claim to the mythical title of best pound-for-pound boxer on the planet.

The raucous crowd of 15,170 didn't appear heavily in favor of one fighter over the other, with impromptu chants of "Judah, Judah" and "Floyd, Floyd" heard at various points of the fight. They saw Judah hold his own in the early rounds, especially the second when Judah rocked Mayweather with a right that nearly sent Mayweather to the canvas. He caught his balance with his glove to the mat. But from that point until the moments approaching the end of the 10th round, Mayweather was clearly in control, and appeared ready to put Judah away. The crowd was pretty much resigned to watch the inevitable coronation of Mayweather. Judah's fans were sitting on their hands, and Mayweather supporters didn't need to point out the obvious.

So, that made what transpired next even more shocking. With less than 10 seconds left in the 10th round, Judah wound up and sent an uppercut squarely below Mayweather's belt. When Mayweather doubled over in pain, referee Richard Steele rushed in to separate the fighters, but wasn't quick enough to get there before Judah delivered a rabbit punch to the back of Mayweather's head. Steele grabbed hold of Judah as Mayweather hopped away. That would have been the end to the incident, but then Roger Mayweather (Floyd's uncle and trainer) jumped in the ring to confront Judah. As Steele tried to keep those two separated, what he didn't know was that Yoel Judah (Zab's father and trainer) had also entered the ring. When the elder Judah threw a punch at Roger Mayweather, that's when everything broke loose, as cornermen from both sides and other spectators flooded the ring. In the ensuing melee it was impossible to follow all the haymakers being thrown and bodies flying. Right in front of press row, supporters of Judah tried to climb in the ring only to have a security officer yell, "Don't you come up here!" while putting his hand on his pistol.

Mayweather fans were upset at the low blow. Judah fans felt Mayweather should have been disqualified for his cornerman entering the ring. That's what Judah's promoter, Don King, called for, but Steele and the Nevada State Athletic Commission opted to clear the ring and give the fighters a cooling-off period and to finish the fight for the fans. That was probably the smart thing as a riot very well could have started in the charged atmosphere. Add to that the fact that bettors with Mayweather tickets would have been incensed at a disqualification. The over/under was also up in the air as most sports books had the total at 11 full rounds.

The rest of the fight was anti-climactic. They finished the 10th round, and Mayweather, his momentum taken away, was content to play it safe in the 11th and 12th rounds, except for some taunting of Judah in the final minute.

All of the above will certainly make for a bigger viewing audience when HBO replays the bout on Saturday night. Just don't let the methodical butt-whupping by Mayweather put you to sleep.

But fans won't be the only ones reviewing the tape of the fight. There was some unfinished business this week as the athletic commission held both purses - Mayweather was to make $5 million and Judah $1 million - while conducting an investigation into the melee and deciding what penalties would be assessed. A hearing was scheduled for Thursday.

Life in the fast lane

The other other big live sporting event in Las Vegas over the weekend was the Summitracing.com Nationals at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The NHRA dragsters tore up the track before an estimated crowd of 20,000 in Sunday's elimination finals.

Melanie Troxel, the points leader in the Top Fuel division, lived up to her role as the 5-2 betting favorite at Station Casinos by flying to her second event victory of the year, traveling the quarter mile in the finals in 4.837 seconds to defeat David Grubnic, a 6-1 choice before the weekend started.

In a weekend that saw a lot of top drivers get knocked off, there were huge upsets in the other two major divisions.

Kurt Johnson, who won the NHRA race here last fall but was in a slump, might be known as a horse for the course as he pulled off the biggest upset of the weekend, winning the Pro Stock division after being an

18-1 longshot before qualifying. His opponent in the final was Dave Connoly, who was another longshot at 30-1.

Tony Pedregon, who was 15-1, won the Funny Car division over 3-1 favorite Ron Capps.

Lefty is again the Master

Phil Mickelson won his second Masters in three years on Sunday, as the 6-1 second choice.

With Saturday's third round being suspended by rain, Sunday looked like it would shape up for a dramatic finish with many of the world's top players - including Tiger Woods, Retief Goosen, Vijay Singh, and two-time Masters champ Jose Maria Olazabal - with a chance to make a run at Mickelson, plus the great story of 1992 champ Fred Couples in the hunt. But Lefty's consistent play kept them all at bay as he coasted to the victory.

Mickelson bogeyed the final hole, but his final score of 281 was already comfortably headed over the 278 1/2 betting total at the Las Vegas Hilton.

Most other proposition bets were also decided early, though the over/under for low score was set at 65 1/2 and Olazabal made a serious run at going under as he shot 32 on the front nine and eagled the 15th hole to move within one stroke of the lead, only to bogey the 16th and finish with a 66.

The Hilton wasted no time in putting up odds for the next major, the U.S. Open at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, N.Y., on June 15-18. Woods is the 3-1 favorite with Mickelson at 6-1 and Goosen, Singh, and Ernie Els all at 12-1.

The Big 5, as they are called, are a formidable group. Prior to the Masters, the Hilton had them as -150, or odds of 2-3, vs. the field. Mickelson came through for those backers.