On July 23, Zab Judah will attempt to win his sixth major title and further revamp his career and image.
The only thing standing between Judah and another championship is Amir “King” Khan. Khan has won seven consecutive fights since his lone loss three years ago and is the WBA Light Welterweight champion.
Both fighters are looking to use one another as stepping stones to bigger fights and paydays.
A Khan victory could set up a potential mega fight with Floyd Mayweather or a Light Welterweight unification bout with Timothy Bradley.
A win for Judah puts him right back in the mix with some of the top fighters in the 140- and 147-lb. weight divisions.
Here is a look at seven keys to Saturday’s fight.
Record: 41-6 (28 KO)
Height: 5' 7.5"
Big Wins: Junior Witter (UD,12), DeMarcus Corley (SD,12), Cory Spinks (TKO,9), Lucas Matthysse (SD,12), Kaizer Mabuza (TKO,7)
Record: 25-1 (17 KO)
Big Wins: Marco Antonio Barrera (TD,5), Andreas Kotelnik (UD,12), Paulie Malignaggi (TKO,11), Marcos Maidana (UD,12), Paul McCloskey (TKO,6)
Zab Judah has some of the fastest hands in boxing. He operates behind short lefts and crisp lead right hands. He is also an extremely accurate and effective counter puncher.
Amir Khan has lightning quick hands and throws well-timed combos to the head and body. In his fights against Paulie Malignaggi, Marcos Maidana, and Paul McCloskey, Khan used his speed to frustrate and batter his opponent on the way to victory.
Advantage: There are few fighters with quicker hands than Zab Judah, but Khan is one of them. The real advantage comes in the way Khan utilizes his speed. He is often a much busier fighter and relies on combos rather than loading up with one big shot.
Edge to Khan
In 41 career victories, Judah has scored 28 knockouts. He has deceptive power for his size and owns knockout victories over Cory Spinks, Cosme Rivera, Ubaldo Hernandez, Jose Santa Cruz and Kaizer Mabuza.
Judah gave Miguel Cotto a real run for his money and had Floyd Mayweather Jr. hurt early on in their Welterweight title fight.
Amir Khan has 17 stoppages in his 25 career victories. Many of Khan’s stoppages come after opponents succumb to an accumulation of punishment, and not just one big shot.
His last two TKO’s over Paulie Malignaggi and Paul McCloskey came as a result of Khan landing blistering combos that eventually led to the fights being stopped.
Advantage: While Khan throws more combinations and is the busier fighter, he doesn’t possess the one-punch power of Zab Judah.
Judah’s best chance of winning is to land a big shot on Khan’s chin. Judah has power in both hands and should he land clean, flush shots, he might be able to stop the Brit.
Edge to Judah
Zab Judah’s chin has long been questioned, but it might be a bit underrated. In his three losses via stoppage, only against Kostya Tszyu was Judah actually knocked out (a fact he may still disagree with).
Judah has actually shown he can take quite a great deal of punishment. In fights against Mayweather, Cotto, Clottey, and most recently Lucas Matthysee, Judah took several big shots and was busted and bloodied, but valiantly fought on.
Amir Khan’s chin might be the most questionable part of his game. He was knocked out in under a minute by Breidis Prescott and was hurt badly in his fight with Marcos Maidana but managed to hold on.
Advantage: Khan showed he can take a punch and survive during his fight with Maidana but his chin remains his biggest weakness.
Judah has taken some big shots in his career but is often able to recover and survive.
Edge to Judah
Both of these fighters should be motivated for this fight and in peak condition.
Amir Khan trains with Freddie Roach and often spars with Manny Pacquiao. Conditioning doesn’t figure to be an issue for “King” Khan.
Khan looked good in a 12-round war with Marcos Maidana and was able to fight at a high energy pace throughout the fight. He looked even better in a six-round route of Paul McCloskey.
Zab Judah is no slouch and is always in great shape for his fights. On some occasions, however, Zab has seemed to wilt under the pressure and slow down late in fights.
In a fight with Lucas Matthysse last fall, Judah did seem to lose some steam in the second half of the fight but was able to pull out a decision.
Advantage: Amir Khan is younger and fresher than Judah and this should play in his favor. If the fight turns into a slugfest, Khan appears to have the edge, and Judah would most likely be the first to tire from a fast-pace fight. Look for Khan to stay busy and keep the pressure on from the opening bell.
Edge to Khan
When it comes to damage taken during their respective careers, this is not even close.
Judah has 49 total fights and has taken part in some bloody ring wars. He is far from shot but at 33, one has to wonder the effect those grueling encounters have had on him.
Amir Khan has had 26 total fights and has managed to limit the damage he's taken in his career. His only loss was a 54-second knockout, and Khan has shown no long-term effects from that fight.
Advantage: Khan definitely has less wear and tear on his body up to this point. Without a question, he will be the better preserved boxer when he steps into the ring on Saturday.
Edge to Khan
Zab Judah has 49 professional fights, 21 of which have been for a world title. His career has spanned 15 years up to this point. His fight with Khan will be the 22nd championship fight of his career. Judah’s record in those title fights is 15-6.
Amir Khan has fought 26 times and 15 of them have been for world titles. Khan is a near-perfect 14-1 in championship fights.
Since winning the WBA Light Welterweight title over Andreas Kotelnik two years ago, he’s successfully defended his title four consecutive times. He looks to make Zab Judah victim No. 5.
Advantage: Judah has 23 more fights than Khan and seven more title fights. Although at only the age of 24, Khan has already fought in fifteen title fights. Still, he has only been boxing professionally for six years.
This is one area in which the wily, old veteran Judah has the upper hand.
Edge to Judah
Zab Judah is trained by his father Yoel Judah and together they have managed to win five world titles and 40 fights. In addition, Judah recently received a much needed boost. Before his last fight, Judah brought in Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker as an assistant trainer.
As an amateur, Judah often sparred with Hall of Famer and former four-time champion, Whitaker.
Whitaker is one of the best defensive fighters ever and gives Judah a much needed new and experienced voice in his corner.
After losing to Breidis Prescott, Amir Khan dumped then trainer Jose Rubio and replaced him with Freddie Roach.
Roach is arguably the sport’s best trainer; he’s been voted Trainer of the Year by the Boxing Writers Association of America four times. He currently trains the top pound-for-pound boxer in the world, Manny Pacquiao, who often spars with Khan before fights.
Roach also works with current Middleweight champ Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. and MMA champions Anderson Silva and Georges St. Pierre.
Advantage: Yoel Judah has done a magnificent job guiding his son’s career through its peaks and valleys, but there is no comparison here. Even the help of Pernell, Whitaker doesn’t equal the talent that sits in Khan’s corner.
Amir Khan’s greatest advantage in this fight will come from outside the ring. Roach’s ability to create adept game plans and exploit opponents' weaknesses gives Khan the edge here.
Edge to Khan
Zab Judah is an unbelievably talented fighter and when he’s focused, he’s one of the best in the world. Judah is desperate to prove that his best days are not behind him and looks to halt Khan’s ascension to the top of the boxing rankings.
Amir Khan is equally talented and has made it a personal goal to clean out the 140-lb. division.
In the end, Judah’s speed and southpaw stance will frustrate Khan in the early rounds. Khan must be patient and protect himself. He should look to test Judah's conditioning by pushing the pace in the middle to late rounds.
As long as Khan isn’t caught with anything too damaging early, he will use his speed and combination punching to outwork, outpoint and outfight Zab Judah.
I’ll take Amir “King” Khan by unanimous decision.