Khan v Judah: Five key questions

Sat, 23 Jul 07:51:00 2011

Our boxing expert James Garner looks at the five questions that really matter as Amir Khan takes on Zab Judah in Las Vegas.

- Khan v Judah: Key battles

1. Can Khan stick to his gameplan?

After Khan's fight with Marcos Maidana his trainer Freddie Roach commented: "He started getting away from the gameplan...and he got caught in the tenth round...we have to improve."

Khan has never looked better than he did in the first few rounds against Maidana. His speed was dazzling, his defence was tight and he was throwing hurtful punches, especially the body-shot which floored Maidana in the first round. On that form Khan beats Judah.

However, Khan let his concentration lapse as the Maidana fight wore on and the limited but relentless Argentine eventually got through Khan's defence and landed some big shots that nearly had Khan out of there.

To some extent what Khan did against Maidana benefitted him because it became a fantastically entertaining fight. Khan endeared himself to the American audience and proved that he can take a much harder shot than anyone realised.

Even so, whilst Khan could get away with pleasing the crowd against Maidana, Khan must not be tempted to take risks against Judah. Judah is a much more wily opponent than Maidana and the Brooklyn fighter has one-punch knock-out power.

Khan does have the necessary discipline to stick to a gameplan - he showed it against Andriy Kotelnik and Paulie Malignaggi. If Khan can do the same against Judah he should win this fight.

2. Can Khan consistently land punches on Judah?

Amir Khan has never faced a fighter as elusive as 'Super' Judah. In the past Judah often thought himself a better defensive fighter than he was but new trainer Pernell Whitaker has honed Judah's athletic gifts - Judah's self-belief is now justified.

Roach has acknowledged Judah's skills in this area, commenting that, "Judah is tricky with his shoulder rolls - he's a little bit Mayweather and a little bit Pernell Whitaker."

Khan is not the most adaptive fighter - he is far more comfortable when he sticks to a gameplan. Therefore, if Khan has difficulty landing on Judah this could unnerve him and cause him to lose his discipline. That's certainly what Judah will be hoping.

Given Judah's excellent head movement, Khan will do better to throw punches to the body. He showed great body-punching early on against Maidana but inexplicably stopped throwing those shots as the fight wore on. Body shots could be the key to victory against Judah.

3. Can Judah deal with Khan's speed?

Khan is one of the fastest pound-for-pound fighters in boxing today. Speed is his greatest asset and he can overwhelm opponents with that alone.

Judah, now 33, has always been quick and in the past has beaten the speedy Cory Spinks and five years ago he matched Floyd Mayweather Jr. However, Judah has slowed down somewhat and he may find that the younger man has too much for him.

Khan's quick hands are hardly a secret but it one thing to see them on video and quite another to see them flying at your face. Khan's speed could still surprise Judah and give the veteran great difficulty in launching his attacks.

4. Can Judah keep up with Khan's stamina?

Throughout his career Zab Judah has had serious stamina problems. In the early rounds he was competitive with Mayweather and he led Miguel Cotto and Joshua Clottey - yet he lost all of those fights as they wore on because of fatigue and ill-discipline.

In his last fight against Kaizer Mabuza, Judah paced himself well before winning by seventh-round knock-out. Mabuza did not have the ability to control the pace of the fight but Khan does.

Judah's camp claim that he didn't train properly earlier in his career and that things will be different now that he is working with Whitaker, as well as the controversial nutritionist Victor Conte.

If Khan can set a fast pace and put Judah's stamina to the test then we shall find out if Judah's rejuvenation is for real or not.

5. Can Judah walk Khan onto a big shot?

Neither fighter is noted for his ring intelligence but the more experienced Judah surely has the edge in this department.

In his last fight Judah allowed Kaizer Mabuza to stalk him around the ring, slipping the South African's shots on the back foot. Judah was studying his opponent, looking for a gap in Mabuza's guard.

In the seventh round Mabuza had Judah cornered but Judah saw that gap. Mabuza threw a lazy lead right and Judah returned a split-second left uppercut that immobilised the bigger man.

Judah will be looking to do the same to Khan, who has a habit of overextending when he throws combinations and that is exactly the kind of weakness that Judah could exploit.

If Judah can walk Khan onto his uppercut then Khan is unlikely to make the count.

In Conclusion

Amir Khan should win this contest but Zab Judah is a very live underdog. Khan must set a fast pace and keep his discipline - the longer it goes the more likely Khan is to win the fight, and unify the WBA and IBF light-welterweight titles.

Follow our live coverage of Tyson Fury v Dereck Chisora and Amir Khan v Zab Judah on Saturday night!

James Garner / Eurosport

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