Amir Khan vs. Zab Judah Not as Satisfying as We Could Have Hoped

James FoleyCorrespondent IJuly 24, 2011

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 23:  Zab Judah lays on the mat as referee Vic Drakulich counts before Judah is knocked out in the fifth round by Amir Khan during their super lightweight world championship unification bout at Mandalay Bay Events Center on July 23, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)
Scott Heavey/Getty Images

The boxing crowd is a fickle group. One can never quite be sure what will stoke their outrage and what might generate a strangely muted reaction. Alexander/Bradley elicited harsh critiques. Williams/Lara was deemed "the biggest robbery in years" by some, even respectable pundits not known for hyperbole.

Khan and Judah engage for five ho-hum rounds culminating with a bizarre knockout that was hard to even catch when it happened live. From one angle the punch looked low. Another confirmed that it was actually on the beltline, and likely connected to the lower abdominal region.

Either way, the whole affair was over before it ever had a chance to get interesting. And yet I heard very little criticism of Judah or the event itself. The consensus seemed to be: Amir Khan had a great night (which he did, clearly dominating the entire fight), now let's move on to the next one.

Everyone was so quick to condemn Likar Ramos' acting job...Did Khan's belt-shot really suck the wind out of Judah? More importantly, did that performance really prove anything about Khan that we didn't already know?

The size difference was glaring and Khan took full advantage. He bullied Judah around the ring and kept a comfortable distance most of the fight. But his opponent seemed more focused on ducking and dodging and hot-stepping than actually trying to mount an offensive attack of his own.

I was not terribly surprised by the way things played out. I couldn't believe the near-unanimous praise heaped on Judah for his knockout win over tough South African Kaizer Mabuza. I must have seen a different fight. Judah was just as apprehensive in the early rounds of that encounter, just as defensive-minded as under Pernell Whitaker's tutelage.

People wrote they expected Judah to go toe-to-toe with Khan, to test Khan's perceived fragile chin. Instead, Judah looked to move around the ring and counter, just like he did against Kaizer.

Judah-Mabuza was a fight that turned on one punch, not the boxing clinic/whitewashing so many scribes recorded it as. He ducked and dodged and was generally ineffective for six rounds until he landed a perfect blow that sent Mabuza flailing through the ropes. Against a boxer/puncher of Amir's class, the one-perfect-punch strategy was a desperate pipe dream.

As a fan viewing on television, this one-fight event (seriously, why does HBO do this? Almost any undercard is better than no undercard) was just as disappointing to me as Bradley/Alexander was. David Haye was derided and ridiculed for doing not much less than what Judah attempted to do. Alexander was crucified for seeming okay with the ref's decision to end a fight while his forehead was gashed from a headbutt.

Why isn't Zab Judah being taken to task for his "defense-first" strategy and his inability to pop up from what looked like a non-debilitating punch? What was going through his mind as Vic Drakulich uttered the count?

He claims he thought he was being given time to recover from a low blow. He also mentioned a standing eight-count. He also acknowledged he was "hurt" from a "hit to the balls." From the video replay, Judah would need to have a pretty extraordinary anatomical situation going on if that punch hit him where he said it did.

I suppose there's a silver lining to everything. At least he didn't pull the glove-choke move on Drakulich like he did to Jay Nady so many years ago when Kosta Tszyu knocked him out. Maybe old Zab's matured after all. And Amir Khan moves on to bigger and better things.