This Saturday night in Las Vegas, Amir Khan will face Zab Judah in a junior welterweight fight from Las Vegas. To be clear, despite the promotional literature telling you it’s a title unification, it’s not for the Ring magazine title which is universally accepted as the real championship belt. But Amir Khan is using this fight as a chance to make a name for himself, and to see if he can maybe bait top-ranked Timothy Bradley to step in the ring with him and settle that specific championship vacancy.
So here’s the question for Amir Khan: Can he make that climb from a guy who is on the pound-for-pound outskirts to a guy that can create a mandate for himself?
But for Zab Judah, the question is different, but no less important. Can Zab Judah, a guy who has always been marked by what he hasn’t been able to do as much by what he has, finally make that step up to a great fighter? Or will he sink back down to a gatekeeper?
Khan first. This isn’t Marcos Maidana he’s in the ring with, so we’re not going to see Amir stand and trade with the willingness that he showed in that fight. But also, he’s not in there with Paulie Malignaggi who he can’t intimidate with his size and punching power. So in a lot of ways, this is one of his biggest challenges. Zab Judah, for all of his faults (and we’ll get to those later), is also a guy who has been in more than a few big fights over the course of his career. Amir Khan has been in exactly…one, and even that’s debatable depending largely on how you feel about Marcos Maidana.
This isn’t me saying, of course, that Amir is doomed. He’s most certainly not. After all, Amir is a Olympic silver-medalist and has the potential to be the best British lower-weight fighter since Ken Buchanan. High praise, I know, but Amir has the potential to make me look right. He’s got a solid jab, power in both hands, and is well-schooled far beyond just his amateur background. He’s got the trainer of trainers, Freddie Roach, helping him and, most importantly, making sure he’s remaining under control. Whenever Khan boxes and then sets up his punches off of that he’s a terror. But when he feels like he can brawl, when he wants to get his Meldrick Taylor on, he’s eminently more beatable than he would like to be.
Now to Zab Judah.
Zab’s an odd case. Ol’ boy was the first big boxer from NYC since Tyson. And he had that intoxicating blend of power and speed that all of the greats have had.
And early on, it looked like he was going to live up to all of that potential. He hammered people including crowd favorite Micky Ward, and started to look like he could be one of the pound-for-pound best.
But he got KTFO’d by Kostya Tszyu, and it all kind of went sideways for him from that point on. Suspensions, horrifically bad performances (typified by him losing the world welterweight title to unknown Carlos Baldomir in Madison Square Garden where he somehow managed to fight for 12 rounds with one glove around his own throat), and it all adds up to a career as a fighter, who while very good, was in no way as good as we were all told he was.
So what’s here for him? Simple. A chance to prove he belongs, and put the sins of the Tszyu, Mayweather, Baldomir, and Cotto fights behind him. Because if he hasn’t…if he’s still the same brilliant but terribly flawed genius that he was before, then he’s stuck on this level in perpetuity, and honestly, that’s not something that any of us want to see happen.
So in conclusion, my prediction for this fight: Khan will be too much for Judah and will either win a wide decision or TKO him sometime around the middle rounds.