LOS ANGELES Joshua Clottey of Ghana beat American Zab Judah to win the IBF welterweight title in Las Vegas on Saturday.
The fight was stopped in the ninth round after Judah said he could not see due to a cut above his right eye. Referee Robert Byrd had ruled the cut was caused by an accidental clash of heads and so the fight went to the scorecards. Two judges scored it 86-85 for Clottey and the other 87-84 for the African fighter.
Clottey said he was "very hopeful" of meeting WBA champion Antonio Margarito, who knocked out Miguel Cotto last week, in his next bout. In 2006, Clottey lost a close decision to Margarito in a fight he was winning until he broke a knuckle in his right hand in the fifth round.
Judah began the busier fighter, showing fast hands and throwing effective combinations behind a stinging southpaw jab. However, Clottey kept a tight defense and blocked many of Judah's punches on his arms and gloves.
Clottey (35-2, 20 KOs) began steadily closing the distance between himself and his opponent from the third round, landing an increasing number of heavy blows that took their toll on the New York fighter.
Judah (36-6, 25 KOs) staged a comeback in the sixth, circling Clottey and landing flurries, but his output dropped markedly in the seventh and his right eye began to swell in the eighth.
Clottey appeared to be dominating the ninth round when the bout was stopped.
(Reporting by Kieran Mulvaney in Washington; Editing by Peter Rutherford)