Amir Khan makes the fifth defence of his WBA light-welterweight title this Saturday night (23rd July) at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. In the opposite corner will be IBF champion Zab Judah, potentially his toughest test to date.
Judah has found a new lease of life since moving back to light-welter last year, hooking up with defensive master Pernell ‘Sweet Pea’ Whittaker and picking up quality victories over Lucas Matthysse and Kaizer Mabuza, the latter for the IBF belt on the line Saturday night.
Judah’s time spent at welterweight was filled with great highs and even lower lows. For every KO of Cory Spinks for the Undisputed welterweight championship there was a horror show of a performance against Carlos Baldomir. Judah just could not be consistently brilliant. That is what makes the Khan-Judah fight intriguing, and hard to predict.
Khan has looked excellent at times but seemed clueless and one-dimensional against Paul McCloskey in April. With all due respect to McCloskey – who is a quality fighter – Judah will be much more slippery and harder to fathom than the Irishman.
If you want to try to predict the outcome of the fight based on each fighters last performance, Judah has the upper hand. Against Mabuza, Judah was fast and was hitting extremely hard, stopping the South African in the seventh round. If Judah hurts a fighter, they usually stay hurt. He’s a great finisher.
Where Judah has fallen short in the past is when a fighter takes his best shots early and comes on strong. In his defeats against Floyd Mayweather, Miguel Cotto, Joshua Clottey and the aforementioned Baldomir, Judah started well before being overawed by his opponent. The plan B never came and he faded late in the fight.
Who can forget his 2nd round defeat to recent Hall of Fame inductee Kostya Tszyu in November 2001? Judah was majestic in the first round, but as soon as Tszyu figured him out and started to measure Judah for the right hand, Judah retreated into a shell. The one second before the bell rang to end the round, Tszyu landed the knockout blow. The resulting ‘chicken dance’ and subsequent attack of referee Jay Nady is the stuff of boxing legend, if only for the wrong reasons.
Khan must improve on his performance over McCloskey and start fast if he is to nullify Judah’s speed and not allow him into the fight. If Khan gets on top and presses the action he can dishearten Judah and wear him down for a late stoppage or unanimous points victory. But one second of complacency could be enough to put Judah back to the top of the division.