Amir Khan Crunches Zab Judah In Five

Amir Khan image from the AP
Amir “King” Khan proved he’s a rising superstar in a junior welterweight unification bout on HBO Saturday night while Zab Judah revealed himself to be only a pretender rather than one of the sport’s truly elite.

From the start Khan’s superior size and reach coupled with his blinding handspeed allowed him to pepper Zab with precise punches while largely avoiding any retribution. Judah showed the effect’s of Pernell Whitaker’s tutelage by ducking to avoid many of the blows but the dynamite left uppercut that should have followed was strangely absent.

A head clash near the end of the first round produced some swelling on his right brow and appeared to bother Zab, but not as much as his clear deficit in talent. The second round saw more of the same as the Pakistani-Brit from Bolton showed great confidence and excellent movement while keeping the fight on the outside in the middle of the ring.

Khan owns one of the sport’s finest jabs and he used it beautifully against Judah, setting up both straight and wide rights that began to bloody the Brooklynite. Khan poured it on in the third as it became evident to all watching that Judah was overmatched.

After the round Whitaker exhorted him to use his jab more and follow with the left uppercut, advice Zab tried to follow in the 4th but without much success. Khan was soon back to systematically breaking Judah down with heavy hooks to the body. At this point your correpondent was tempted to write the fight off as a route but the memory of Zab’s crunching left against Kaizer Mabuza in March gave me pause.

But there was no need for suspense. The 5th round saw Khan land at will, hurting Judah with a left hook and following by several strong right hands. Zab swayed and waved, attempting to rally with a left to the gut that paused Khan momentarily. Khan rebounded and unloaded another combination, punctuated by an uppercut that landed squarely on Judah’s beltline.

The punch crumpled Judah and he sat on his knees as the ref counted to ten in his face. The official end came at 2:47 of the 5th round; afterward Zab looked incredulous, doubtless hoping to convince onlookers the final blow had been low.

“I felt great, I felt in great shape and all these people out there who say Amir Khan ain’t got a chin. I’ve been hit by the biggest punchers in the 140-lb. division, not avoided any fighter, fought everyone in front of me, and I mean, I’m beating everyone so just bring on the next challenge,” Amir told HBO’s Max Kellerman afterward.

After watching a replay of the final blow Khan deemed it legal but declined to criticize Judah for failing to get up, calling him a great champion and claiming to be a big fan of Zab’s since childhood. However, when asked about top-rated junior welterweight Tim Bradley Amir didn’t mince words.

“I think he’s scared. Tim Bradley, if he was the champion he says he is, he would have faced me a long time ago,” Khan said. “Timothy Bradley was calling me out and soon as I started sayin’ ‘Yeah, listen, I’m ready to fight’ he pulled out, he didn’t want to fight me. And I really say Zab Judah is a better fighter than Timothy Bradley in my eyes.”

Judah unfortunately showed less class, claiming he was getting on track later in the fight and arguing the last punch had been clearly low.

“Self-explanatory, baby. Self-explanatory,” Judah said after a replay.

Judah said he hadn’t realized the ref was on the verge of counting him out, but to his credit he remained calm and failed to press the issue. The blow was admittedly borderline but it’s hard to see Judah staying down if Khan hadn’t been dominating him so thoroughly.

Zab is still an entertaining and engaging fighter, one we enjoy watching when he’s not clearly in over his head and forced to resort to things that diminish his stature. He could still draw a good crowd in the New York area and provide a good fight to almost anyone at 140 lbs.

But he has always come up short when called onto the biggest stage and like many others that appears doomed to be his legacy. Unfortunately some in Judah’s corner will likely consider this loss controversial, which was doubtless part of the motivation for such theatrics.

Khan’s potential on the other hand seems limitless. His broad back and shoulders make a move to welterweight inevitable, but a unification bout with Bradley would make an excellent send-off. Otherwise only Marcos Maidana, Devon Alexander and Lucas Matthysse seem likely to pose any threat at junior welterweight.

A division that once seemed so stacked is no longer bright enough to contain Kahn’s rising star. He will likely seek a matchup with the winner of Mayweather-Ortiz after first testing his box office appeal against one of the names above. We look forward to seeing just how high the 24-year-old can rise.

Gautham Nagesh is the editor of Stiff Jab. Follow him on Twitter.

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board ( He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.