Amir Khan KO5 Zab Judah
Before their anticipated match-up this past Saturday, more than fair share of people had Zab Judah, rejuvenated and refocused, knocking-out rising star Amir Khan by the halfway point. But the only one left standing by then wasn't the Brooklynite…
The first four rounds tightly resembled one another: Khan circling around Judah with blitzes of hard, direct shots while Judah stood around and threw intermittently. Despite all of the pre-fight vows to take the youngster to school, the latter looked unable to to pull the trigger and basically absorbed the barrages throughout. Judah has had a long history of mentally-crashing when pressed hard in a fight or when the tables are turned, but such was not the case last Saturday night. Ever since separating from his long-time trainer/father, getting his life in order, and tagging up with boxing hall-of-famer-turned-trainer Pernell Whitaker, Judah seemed more mentally-anchored and settled and did not seem to crack under the pressure.
Trying to find a way to open up and combat the faster, stronger Brit without getting battered and caught, however, was a whole other issue, and served to highlight the "fast-handed fighter vs. fast-handed fighter" dynamic. Often in such match-ups, one of the two combatants is unable to enact any offense of consequence, sometimes because they are accustomed to being the faster one in the ring and not getting hit as often, and perhaps because they are also not accustomed to facing someone who can throw as fast as they can or keep up with them (or even worse, excel at a higher level than they can in those areas, especially in terms of strength). Judah was implored by Whitaker to let it fly, but that was a tall order to fill given Khan's advantages and his swirling tactic. [*Anime Fans (specifically, those of Gundam): For fun, think of it like "Operation Maelstrom" in Zeta Gundam ^^;; ]
The end came in somewhat-controversial fashion in the 5th, when Khan delivered a hard uppercut into Judah's body while he was in a crouching position in close quarters, causing him to crumple to the ground in agony for the full count. While the punch landed on the belt line, it looked as if it brushed below it on its way there in some camera angles, which Judah protested was a low-blow and was not given a "Standing 8" count to give him the chance to get up (which, however, was not in play for the bout, and of which he would have had had to make an actual effort of "standing up" for before the count of "8", which he did not). While it did look as if some of the glove had glanced below, most of the punch's impact went into Judah's liver/solar plexus area (hard to pinpoint which exact area, given Judah's crouching position), which would have incapacitated any fighter, regardless of who they were. It was more legit than not, and was not intentional if so, but moreover, Judah was clearly losing the contest. It was a virtual shutout by Khan and the end was likely to have come sooner rather than later, though perhaps with less of a question mark.
Judah's career is not over, but the way he approaches fights in his new manner needs to be more proactive, but still mindful of defense and of better use of his elusiveness. As for the victor, Khan continues rise and improve, but he needs to continue to decrease on his propensity to lunge forward so fast when trying to connect with a power shot, as it tends to not only negate its impact at a closer range than intended, but also leaves himself susceptible to counters. Timothy Bradley looks like his next closest opponent--though he actually has to want to fight him (he was supposed to fight Khan, not Judah, last Saturday, but dropped out of it, despite the former offering him a sizable portion of the fight purse and splitting the international TV revenue from his territories 50-50. Now his promoters are suing him over it.). Additionally, you also have some decent match-ups with likes of Lamont Peterson, Devon Alexander, and Lucas Matthysee. And if not those, there's always "Round 2" with Marcos Maidana at the end of the year.
I don't think too many would complain about that one…