For the first time in more than 40 years, world championship boxing is returning to Oklahoma City.
Native son Noah Zuhdi (15-1, 12 KOs) will face Panamanian fighter German Jurado (12-2, 4 KOs) for the vacant World Boxing Union world lightweight championship in a 12-round title bout Thursday at the Cox Convention Center.
With a victory, Zuhdi would join the ranks of past WBU champs such as George Foreman, Tommy Hearns and Ricky Hatton.
But Zuhdi is not your typical boxer. In his other adversarial occupation, the 29-year-old Heritage Hall High School graduate is a practicing attorney in Oklahoma City.
“It’s a tremendous honor to even be considered eligible to compete for a world title,” Zuhdi said from Colorado Springs, Colo., where he’s been training for the past month. “I’m pushing myself to my mental and physical limits each day. I feel confident and strong.”
The WBU was featured in The Fighter, the 2010 Oscar-winning movie starring Mark Wahlberg as former light welterweight champion Micky Ward.
“Because of that film, our belt is one of the most recognized in the world of boxing,” said WBU President Don Lewis. “I can’t wait for the fans in Oklahoma City to be able to see us put it on the winner of this fight.”
Joe Louis Barrow II, WBU vice chairman and the son of heavyweight legend Joe Louis, will be among those at Thursday’s match to present the belt.
“Noah is an unusual fighter. He exemplifies someone who has the potential to be all things,” Barrow said. “Boxing is not just a sport for people who are desperate to get out of a poverty-stricken life. It’s not only a bridge to somewhere else. He’s an example of that.”
After a stellar high school and college basketball career, Zuhdi took up boxing in 2006 shortly after enrolling in law school at the University of Oklahoma. With no amateur experience, he won his first pro fight the following year in a first-round knockout.
In 2008, he won the Oklahoma Lightweight Championship. Last September, he defeated Nebraska lightweight Richard Flores in a unanimous decision at Riverwind Casino.
“This is 100 percent the biggest fight of my career,” Zuhdi said of the title shot, a fight that promoters are billing “The Fight for Glory.”