Oklahoma City's Noah Zuhdi walked into Cox Convention Center with the dream of becoming a world champion — and left it with his dream fulfilled.
Zuhdi defeated German Jurado of Changuinola, Panama, by unanimous decision Thursday night to win the World Boxing Union lightweight championship.
“This is why you get into boxing,” Zuhdi said. “You want to be in fights that people will remember forever. No matter what else happens, this is why I got into boxing.”
While walking down the hall toward the bathroom for his mandatory drug test, Zuhdi's trainer, Dickie Wood, didn't want to let the world champion title go to his fighter's head. Wood chided Zuhdi, asking if had been in a fight at all. Zuhdi ignored the first verbal jab, but he responded to the second.
“I'm sorry,” Zuhdi said. “The shine from my belt, I can't hear you.”
But Zuhdi had been in a fight and ached from the damage Jurado inflicted on his face and abdomen.
Jurado crowded Zuhdi and forced him to fight inside. Zuhdi responded by trying to break away and catch Jurado with a jabs and straight right hands to the nose.
Jurado said he won the fight. He said he would've needed a win by knockout to leave the Cox Center with the championship belt. Jurado said he wanted a rematch.
“Every time I went to hit him, he stumbled,” Jurado said. “I know I hurt him.”
Jurado (12-3) continued to charge at Zuhdi (16-1) in the second and third rounds. The Panamanian wasn't giving an inch to the hometown kid who also holds the title as USA Oklahoma lightweight champion.
“He hurt me throughout the fight,” Zuhdi said. “He's real strong. He hit me with great shots to the body.”
But this was a fight Zuhdi thirsted for, and he wasn't going to give up.
“I wanted this fight,” he said. “I wanted to fight the best. You want to go toe-to-toe. This is why I sacrificed what I sacrificed.”
Coming out of a clinch in the seventh round, Zuhdi stunned Jurado with a right hand and finished the round with a flurry to Jurado's midsection.
Zuhdi used his reach to his advantage, banging away at Jurado's head with jab-cross combinations.
Jurado's feet slowed, and Zuhdi looked like the better conditioned fighter. He relied on his fundamentals — hands held high, working behind his jab — to frustrate Jurado.
“What he showed tonight is what I saw during camp, that he's matured as a fighter and he's stronger in his mind,” Wood said.