On July 23rd, WBA Light Welterweight Champion, Amir Khan, 25-1, 17 KO’s, collides with the current IBF Light Welterweight Champion, Zab “Super” Judah, 41-6, 28 KO’s, in a unification bout. This was the match that Khan opted for when a bout with Timothy Bradley didn’t materialize, and in truth, this is a far better match for the fans.
Judah is a two-time light welterweight title holder and a former unified welterweight title holder, but even with that, he has still been an underachiever. Gifted with amazing reflexes, pulverizing power, and great speed, along with his “bad boy” persona, he could have been the face of boxing, but his ability to keep his cool inside of the ropes have hurt him dramatically, and have resulted in his defeats.
Judah made his climb up the ladder and his association with Mike Tyson helped as he became a featured fighter on Showtime. His first big fight was a showdown with fellow champion, Kostya Tszyu, in 2001. After dominating the first round, he got caught late in the second and made a rookie mistake of jumping up to his feet. He collapsed right back down and the referee waved it off. He got up again and was furious, choking the referee and throwing a corner stool at him. It was not a pretty scene. Most amusing was Mike Tyson trying to calm Judah down.
After winning a few fights, he got a shot at Cory Spinks for the unified welterweight title. He would drop Spinks in the final round and lose a hotly disputed fight. After two more wins, he’d rematch and leave no doubt, pummeling Spinks and taking him out in 9 rounds. He now stood atop the welterweight class, but it wouldn’t last long.
The unheralded Carlos Baldomir, tough and durable, would upset Judah, and take all but the IBF title, but the big showdown with Floyd Mayweather, JR., that Judah had set would still go through despite of the defeat. In the fight with Floyd, we saw the best of Judah, as he dominated the early rounds and dropped Floyd, but his fragile mentality betrayed him and as Floyd put pressure on him, he resorted to a low blow, which prompted one of the biggest idiots in boxing, Roger Mayweather, to jump into the ring and make a street fight out of it with the other corner. This stupid act could have cost Floyd his undefeated record, but the fight went on and he won via UD, taking the IBF title away from Judah.
Judah, still a huge name in boxing, was given another big PPV opportunity against welterweight champion, Miguel Cotto. After peppering Cotto early, a series of low blows seemed to take the steam out of Judah, leading to an 11th round stoppage, and knocking Judah out of the big time boxing scene.
After a loss to the very strong Joshua Clottey, Judah moved back down to the light welterweight class and put together five straight victories, including his most impressive a decision win over Lucas Martin Matthysse. He holds the IBF Title, is comfortable at 140 and has visions of what Breidis Prescott did to Khan in 2008.
Khan is a very talented fighter with power in both hands. He is only 24 years old and chalks up his loss to Prescott, a 1st round destruction, to bad eating habits prior to the fight. He fights much like Lennox Lewis did. He is a long range fighter with power, but he also has a lot more grit then people give him credit for. He went through hell with Marcos Maidana and overcame it to win, but he will be walking through a minefield with Zab Judah.
This fight is going to be a chess match and it may just come down to who lands first. If Judah can bring home that straight left hand, then he could pull the upset, but if that straight right hand comes down the pike, the show could be over for Judah. This is really a pick’em fight. Judah feels stronger at 140, he’s only been beaten by stronger men like Mayweather, Cotto, Clottey, and Tszyu. Khan is not stronger than Judah and if the going gets tough and Zab gets confidence, it could be an interesting evening.
Anything can happen in Khan-Judah, a great fight and a step forward for boxing, considering that it is a unification and an evenly matched showdown. With this, Haye/Klitschko, Adamek/Klitschko, Pacquiao/Marquez, and Mayweather/Ortiz on the horizon, boxing should generate some well deserved interest again.