AMIR KHAN vs. ZAB JUDAH
When: Saturday, July 23
Where: Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas
TV: HBO, 7 p.m. PT / 10 p.m. ET
Weight: Junior welterweight (140 pounds)
Title(s) at stake: Khan’s WBA junior welterweight title; Judah’s IBF junior welterweight title
Also on the card: Peter Quillin vs. Jason LeHoullier, 10 rounds, middleweights; Gary Russell Jr. vs. Eric Estrada, 8 rounds, featherweights; James Kirkland vs. Alexis Hloros, 8 rounds, middleweights
Height / Reach: 5-10 (178cm) / 71 (180cm)
Hometown: Bolton, England
Nickname: King Khan
Turned pro: 2005
Record: 25-1 (17 knockouts)
Trainer: Freddie Roach
Fight-by-fight: Click here
The Ring rating: No. 2 junior welterweight
Titles: WBA junior welterweight (2009-current)
Biggest victories: Marco Antonio Barrera, March 14, 2009, TD 5; Andreas Kotelnik, July 18, 2009, UD 12 (wins title); Paulie Malignaggi, May 15, 2010, TKO 11; Marcos Maidana, Dec. 11, 2010, UD 12; Paul McCloskey, April 16, 2011, TD 6.
Loss: Breidis Prescott, Sept. 6, 2008, KO 1
Height: 5-7½ (171cm) / 72 (183)
Hometown: Las Vegas (from Brooklyn, N.Y.)
Turned pro: 1996
Record: 41-6 (28 knockouts)
Trainer: Pernell Whitaker
Fight-by-fight: Click here
The Ring rating: No. 6 junior welterweight
Titles: IBF junior welterweight (2000-01; lost it to Kostya Tszyu); WBO junior welterweight (2003-04; vacated); WBA welterweight (2005-06; stripped); WBC welterweight (2005-06; lost it to Carlos Baldomir); IBF welterweight (2005-06; lost it to Floyd Mayweather Jr.); IBF junior welterweight (20011-current).
Biggest victories: Jan Piet Bergman, Feb. 12, 2000, KO 4 (won first title); DeMarcus Corley, July 12, 2003, SD 12 (won second title); Cory Spinks, Feb. 5, 2005, TKO 9 (won three titles); Lucas Matthysse, Nov. 6, 2010, SD 12; Kaizer Mabuza, March 5, 2011, TKO 7 (won title).
Losses: Kostya Tszyu, Nov. 3, 2001, TKO 2 (lost title); Cory Spinks, April 10, 2004, UD 12; Carlos Baldomir, Jan. 7, 2006, UD 12 (lost title); Floyd Mayweather Jr., April 8, 2006, UD 12 (lost title); Miguel Cotto, June 9, 2007, TKO 11 (for title); Joshua Clottey, Aug. 2, 2008, TD 9 (for title).
Skills: Khan and Judah are athletic boxer-punchers who utilize crisp jabs to set up their power shots. Both boxers are comfortable and effective whether in stick-and-move or seek-and-destroy mode. Khan, the more energetic of the two, is a good combination puncher and goes to the body well. Judah is the slicker and smoother operator. The veteran is also more accurate with single shots.
Power: Khan, who has stopped 17 of his 26 opponents, has a better KO percentage (65.4 to 57) than Judah, who has stopped 28 of 49. However, Most of Khan’s knockouts took place when he campaigned at lightweight and often weighed between 134½
and 137 pounds in bouts against natural 130- and 135-pound opponents. Judah, who turned pro at junior welterweight, has only weighed under 138 pounds once. He’s scored many knockouts against world-class 140-pound fighters and quality welterweights.
Speed and athletic ability: Both fighters are gifted with a very special blend of speed and power. Both possess excellent reflexes and hand-eye coordination. However, Khan is just entertaining his physical prime and is able to expend more energy with more power than Judah, who is at the tail-end of his athletic prime.
Defense: Both fighters rely on their extremely quick reflexes to avoid punches. Khan keeps a high guard as he steps around his opponent or he simply jumps out of range while Judah prefers to shoulder roll and lean away from incoming punches. Neither fighter can be described as particularly “slick.” Khan keeps a stiff upper body and sometimes forgets to tuck his chin. Judah often drops his hands and has been guilty of concentration lapses that have led to wobbly moments and trips to the canvas.
Experience: Judah had already won five major belts — two 140-pound straps and three welterweight titles (not including THE RING 147-pound title) — when Khan turned pro in July of 2005. The 33-year-old veteran has fought 10 fighters who held major world titles, including former RING champs Kostya Tszyu, Floyd Mayweather and Cory Spinks. Judah has 281 pro rounds under his belt (compared to 124 for Khan) and most of those rounds were against quality opposition. Judah fought experienced contenders Micky Ward, Darryl Tyson, Wilfredo Negron and David Sample in the first 36 months of his pro career. Khan has faced four fighters who have held major world titles, including Marco Antonio Barrera (however, it must be noted that the future hall of famer was way past his prime).
Chin: Neither fighter can claim a Jake LaMotta-like set of whiskers. Both have been knocked down and wobbled in multiple fights and both have suffered early-rounds KO losses. However, Judah has generally been dropped, rocked and stopped by better fighters than Khan, who suffered a first-round KO to fringe contender Breidis Prescott. Judah’s stoppage losses were to Tszyu, a former undisputed champ and recent hall-of-fame inductee, and three-division titleholder Miguel Cotto. Khan was dropped by tough-but-undersized Michael Gomez and light-punching Willie Limond. Judah was dropped by Jan Bergman (38-2 at the time), heavy handed beltholder Terron Millett, hard-punching contender Lucas Matthysse, Cotto and Spinks.
Conditioning: Neither fighter ever appears out of shape between fights and both seem to enjoy pushing themselves in training. Both Judah and Khan have proven the ability to fight hard (if need be) over the 10- and 12-round distance. Khan took his conditioning to a truly world-class level when he took on Freddie Roach’s assistant Alex Ariza as his strength coach and nutritionist. Ariza’s stellar work with Manny Pacquiao is well documented. Judah has recently enlisted the consulting services of controversial conditioning guru Victor Conte, who has experienced positive results with bantamweight titleholder Nonito Donaire.
Wear and tear: This category isn’t hard to figure out. Judah, who turned pro in September of 1996, has logged 157 more rounds than Khan and the Brooklyn-born southpaw has taken his share of lumps. Mayweather punished him over the second half of their 2006 encounter. And the Cotto fight in June of ’07 was particularly grueling. Khan’s fight-of-the-year candidate with Marcos Maidana last December was a tough outing but the 24-year-old British star did not absorb any considerable punishment until the final rounds of the bout.
Corner: Both fighters are blessed to have truly brilliant boxing minds in their corners. However, Judah’s new coach, Pernell Whitaker, proved his genius in the ring. The recent hall-of-fame inductee has yet to establish himself as a world-class trainer. Roach wasn’t much of a fighter (in comparison to Whitaker), but he’s a hall-of-fame lock in the trainer category. The five-time recipient of the BWAA’s trainer-of-the-year award has also had more time with his fighter than Whitaker has with his. “Sweet Pea” joined Team Judah before the Kaizer Mabuza fight in March. Roach has trained Khan since the Prescott loss (seven bouts).
Fischer's outcome: Khan will start fast circling and out-working Judah with his jab and quick one-two combinations that the veteran is only able to partially block and slip. Khan will periodically snap Judah’s head back or knock him off balance in the early rounds, but he doesn’t go for the kill because the savvy southpaw will occasionally land jabs and counter punches that remind the 4-to-1 favorite that he’s in with the most dangerous fighter of his career. Whitaker will instruct Judah to press Khan in the middle rounds, a period when Judah has typically lost his concentration. This change in strategy will lead to explosive results as Judah drops Khan with a huge left uppercut midway through the following round. The young beltholder will beat the count but he’ll get up on rubbery legs. Khan will alternately hold and get on bicycle as he tries to run out the clock. Judah, stalking with bad intentions, will nail Khan with a three-punch combination near the end of round but the glassy eyed up-and-comer will return fire and stun the veteran just before the bell. Between rounds, Roach will instruct Khan to move behind his jab and limit his exchanges with Judah but the British fighter’s pride will override common sense and he will let his hands to go just to prove that he can fight his way through adversity. Khan will clip Judah and force the more experienced fighter to the ropes where he hurts dangerous underdog with body shots. The crowd will explode as the two 140-pound titleholders exchange lightening-fast power combinations but Khan’s zeal to score a knockout costs him dearly as he lunges into another left uppercut, this one followed by a right hook, and is badly rocked back onto his heels. Khan will reel across the ring as Judah pursues while winging wild haymakers, some of which connect with the hurt fighter. Khan will be saved by the bell but Roach will refuse to allow him to continue fighting in the condition he’s in.
Fischer prediction: Judah by mid-to-late rounds stoppage.
Rosenthal's outcome: Khan will need several rounds to figure out how to cope with Judah, whose slick skills and southpaw stance present significant challenges. However, he’ll find his range with his blazing-quick, long jab and land more and more straight rights as the fight progresses. The more they land, the less Judah will want to engage. And don’t forget the vicious left to the body with which Khan sent Marcos Maidana to canvas writhing in pain. It could happen to Judah, too. And what about Khan’s chin? Judah will land some meaningful punches; he’s too good not to. And some of them will land flush enough to stop Khan in his tracks. However, the Briton won’t be hurt badly enough to swing the momentum in Judah’s favor. Khan will have taken full control of the fight by the middle rounds. By the seventh or eighth round, he will have beaten much of the older man’s will to fight out of him. And by the ninth round, Judah, his face battered, will have had enough. He’ll either be stopped that round with a flurry fast, hard punches or he won’t come out for the 10th round.
Rosenthal's prediction: Khan KO 9
Photo / Naoki Fukuda