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Amir Khan & the Light Welterweight Division of Boxing

By Gina L. Caliboso

So, RSR fans – what a boxing weekend it was!

I had my DVR tuned into Showtime, HBO, and even Spike, watching boxing and MMA. But I’m a boxing writer, I again, did not have a date with anyone this Saturday night, and happily choosing to monitor my DVR – both Showtime and HBO – I wasn’t disappointed! But as I awaited the broadcast of HBO’s Boxing After Dark, I learned that two light welterweights are set to fight each other on July 23rd. Amir “King” Khan, 25-1, 17 KO’s will go up against Zab “Super” Judah, 41-6, 28 KO’s. I’d like to take a look at the light welterweight division and see how the potential for matchups are looking so far.

Ranked #1 in the division, Timothy Bradley, 27-0, 11 KO’s is not scheduled to fight any time soon. After his last victory over Devon Alexander in a victory that looked lackluster on both fighters, I do not question his strength and conditioning. Even as the top ranked fighter of the division, he still lacks that quality that leaves no doubt to his domination over other fighters.

He needs to fight again soon and come out with a KO victory even though he isn’t really a KO fighter. In his bout against Alexander, Bradley didn’t look spectacular, or perhaps Alexander didn’t look like he wanted to win. But either way, I thought as each were titleholders within the light welterweight division, ranked #1 and # 3 respectively, I expected more of a fight, but it looked more like an intense sparring session.

The bout was scored as a 10th round TD in favor of Bradley, but I was disappointed with both fighters in a fight that could have had potential for a rivalry, but neither fighter showed any intensity. After the bout, Bradley called out both Pacquiao and Mayweather. I think Bradley needs to stay grounded, for right now anyway, and remain among the light welterweights.

Ranked #2 in the division, Khan, as I mentioned, will face Judah in July. I like this matchup and want to see Khan go up against fighters that would really challenge him. With Roach in his corner, along with Ariza as his conditioning and fitness trainer, I believe Khan should face Bradley after Judah. Khan has really shown some excellent boxing skill in his last two bouts and has become better under Roach’s tutelage. First, Khan has shown up in the Pacquiao training camp as a sparring partner. Second, Khan still needs some polish.

In his bout against Argentine Marcos Maidana, 30-2, 27 KO’s, Khan demonstrated some moments of boxing brilliance when he executed a beautiful body shot that sent Maidana down. However, Maidana brushed it off and fought Khan down to the 12th round. I even thought Khan would lose this bout because he started running away from Maidana in the championship rounds. More importantly, Khan should have put Maidana away after that knockdown. In defense of his WBA Light Welterweight title in April this year, Khan fought and earned a 6th round TD against Paul McCloskey, 22-1, 12 KO’s due to a 7 stitches cut suffered by McCloskey.

Ranked #3, Devon Alexander, 21-1, 13 KO’s is set to face Lucas Martin Matthysse, 28-1, 26 KO’s later this month. Alexander, a southpaw, remains to be a question mark. He has a solid record, but he didn’t show his best abilities against Bradley. Alexander will get a challenge from Matthysse. Matthysse showed some good skills against Judah. Even as he lost to Judah last year in a 12 round split decision, Matthysse is obviously a KO puncher. Alexander should be wary and really bring his game to this bout

Rounding out the top 4 is the wild horse fighter, Argentine Marcos Maidana, 30-2, 27 KO’s. Maidana is such a wild fighter, but a warrior. Even though he lost against Khan, Maidana stuck with Khan and gave him a rough time in the later rounds that had Khan gasping a little bit. For what Maidana lacks in technical sharpness, he makes up for in intimidating fearlessness.

He last fought against Erik Morales and earned a 12 round MD, but nonetheless, he showed he could take opponents over the course of 12 rounds and still remain tough. Maidana can beat his opponents because he does not relent on his offense. Maidana should be given the chance the fight against Bradley, but I can see where other fighters might be afraid to fight him. He’s ruthless as he did get deducted a point in his bout against Khan for throwing an elbow. He throws everything and that is what exactly makes him such a competitor – his unpredictability.

So finally, the division brings in Zab Judah ranked #5. But let’s not waste words here, Judah is the veteran fighter in the division and can easily take on any of the top four fighters. Judah, if you recall, is also a former WBC and WBA Welterweight titleholder. Back in August 2008, Judah suffered a 9th round TD loss to Joshua Clottey. But since then, he’s been winning, period. Judah, like Alexander, is a southpaw that works his way inside with controlled aggression. Most recently in March this year, he fought and defeated Kaizer Mabuza, 23-7, 14 KO’s earning a 7th round TKO and becoming the IBF Light Welterweight titleholder. Judah is a much more focused fighter and wins. It will be a good matchup for both Khan and Judah to fight one another. More importantly, the winner should definitely be courting the opportunity to fight Bradley as well.

So RSR fans, there it is, all this was going through my mind during the Julio Cesar Chavez, JR., bout. I was really happy to hear about the Khan – Judah matchup because it’s a bout that will have potential in its aftermath. Bradley must step up and decide where he wants to be – whether remain ranked #1 among light welterweights or gain some weight and enter into the welterweights. And now, the light welterweight question has been called and who will answer? Let’s just wait and see.

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