In the end, there was blood — not tears — flowing from near Zab Judah’s right eye. Either way, Joshua Clottey produced what he predicted.
Clottey pounded away until Judah was seeing red Saturday night, and Clottey won the IBF welterweight title by technical decision after their bout was stopped at 1:22 of the ninth round.
Referee Robert Byrd stopped the fight after determining an accidental clash of heads opened a deep cut over Judah’s right eye.
The decision went to the judges, who scored it 86-85, 86-85 and 87-84 in favor of Clottey (35-2).
Judah reacted angrily, while Clottey, who had promised to beat Judah and make him cry, celebrated his first title in front of a crowd of 1,853 at The Pearl at the Palms.
"I threw a right hand to his face, and I saw the cut," Clottey said. "It was not a head-butt."
Judah’s trainer and father, Yoel Judah, said he plans to file a protest with the Nevada Athletic Commission, claiming a head-butt caused the decisive cut.
Two judges, George Hill and Glenn Trowbridge, scored the bout even through eight rounds and awarded the ninth to Clottey. Judge Duane Ford had Clottey ahead 77-75 after eight rounds.
"I thought I was winning," said Zab Judah (36-6). "I was very disappointed with the whole situation and how it ended."
Judah was wearing sunglasses when he appeared at a news conference about an hour after the fight. A plastic surgeon used 18 stitches to close the gash on Judah’s eyelid.
The result was controversial to Judah, but to Clottey the outcome was inevitable.
"I realized he was getting tired. I knew definitely I would stop him," Clottey said. "His power never affected me."
Clottey threw 363 power punches and landed 114 (31 percent). Judah was busier with his jab — throwing 280 and landing 46 (16 percent) — but Clottey was effective in blocking most of Judah’s combinations.
It was Clottey’s ability to connect with his right hand that won him the fight. A replay of the ninth round showed Clottey hit Judah with a right to the eye and that it was not a head-butt that caused the cut.
But Yoel Judah said Clottey’s head was his best weapon.
"He butted Zab in the second round, which made the cut tender, and he might have got another one along the way," Yoel Judah said. "It was a deep gash in the eye. A punch can’t open that up.
"Clottey did not win this fight. There was no way the decision was unanimous."
The ringside physician, Dr. James Game, said Judah told him he could not see out of his right eye, and Byrd waved it off and sent the decision to the scorecards.
All the judges scored the fight even through six rounds, but all awarded the seventh round to Clottey. In the seventh, Clottey hit Judah with a left uppercut and stunned him with a straight right that backed Judah into a corner.
Blood was flowing from Judah’s nose, and his right eye was swollen.
A former undisputed welterweight world champion who has been in 16 title fights, Judah faces an uncertain future.
Clottey, who closed as a minus-210 favorite, could get his next fight against WBA welterweight champion Antonio Margarito.
In a ringside interview with HBO, Margarito, who defeated Clottey in December 2006, said he next wants to fight Oscar De La Hoya.
"I just don’t want to be a contender," Clottey said. "I want to be a champion. If I fight Margarito again, it would be a different story."