WBA junior welterweight titlist Amir Khan said he wanted unification for his next fight. WBO counterpart Timothy Bradley was the target but when that fight fell through, newly-crowned IBF king Zab Judah stepped in. It can be argued that Judah's inclusion not only enhanced the event's star power but it undoubtedly posed bigger risks to Khan's shaky chin. Therefore fans should be in for an intriguing night. Khan, surprisingly, is a better than 4-1 favorite.
Will Judah add Khan's scalp to his mantle or will "King Khan" add another jewel to his crown? Their respective CompuBox histories offer these facts:
Khan vs. Southpaws: Khan has fought four left-handers, with only Paul McCloskey coming close to world-class. In his most recent outing -- a six-round butt-induced shutout technical decision -- Khan blunted McCloskey's offense due to his power punching success.
Averaging 58.2 punches per round, Khan limited McCloskey's offense to just 29 per round (52 percent below the 60.5 divisional average). That allowed Khan to amass advantages of 349-174 (total punches), 88-44 (total connects), 225-101 (power-punch attempts) and 73-28 (power connects). The only edge McCloskey earned was a 16-15 edge in landed jabs and he did so while throwing 51 fewer (73-124). Despite his success in other areas, Khan should be concerned about allowing a shorter man to out-jab him, especially given Judah's quickness.
Khan vs. boxers: Judah has returned to his boxer roots under Pernell Whitaker's tutelage so Khan must expect the New Yorker to play a speed game against him. Khan has performed well against defensive-minded boxers lately, as the Paul Malignaggi and Andreas Kotelnik bouts show.
Agast Malignaggi, Khan averaged 54.4 punches per round against Malignaggi's 44.2, out-landed him 259-127 (overall), 151-57 (jabs) and 108-70 (power). He was accurate on offense (39.7 percent overall, 40.9 jabs and 38.0 power) and responsible on defense (23.9 percent overall, 20.4 jabs and 27.9 power).
The Kotelnik fight saw similar lopsided-ness, at least in most categories. Averaging 77.8 per round, Khan held connect leads of 208-140 (overall) and 96-28 (jabs) but tied at 112 in power connects. That is mitigated by the fact Kotelnik needed 80 more attempts (423-343).
Khan has prospered because his height, reach and speed allow him to out-box the boxers and his power enables him to punch with the punchers. But there is that chin, and Judah believes he'll do damage should he reach it.
Judah vs. Height: Two of his three recent junior welterweight fights have come against taller men: Jose Armando Santa Cruz (5-10) and his most recent opponent Kaizer Mabuza (5-9).
In stopping Santa Cruz in three, Judah averaged 60 punches per round to 27 for Santa Cruz, piling up connect advantages of 39-15 (total), 26-15 (power) and an astounding 13-0 in landed jabs -- remarkable given Santa Cruz's long arms. Judah's inaccuracy with the jab (9.6 percent) was mitigated by the 59.1 percent marksmanship on power shots.
Against Mabuza Judah struggled statistically. Mabuza threw more (390-286 overall, 222-78 power) and landed more (90-67 overall, 27-24 jabs and 63-43 power) but Judah's saving grace was power punching accuracy as he landed 55.1 percent. Against Khan he must make every power connect count -- and he has the one-punch pop to turn the fight at any moment.
Judah at 140 -- Then and Now: The Santa Cruz fight in July 2010 marked Judah's return to junior welterweight after seven years at higher weights. Zab's 11-6 with 9 ko's in title fights. He's 9-1, 7 ko's at 140 lbs and 2-5, 2 ko's at welterweight. Judah's fought nine current or past world champs compiling a 4-6 record. While there has been erosion in some areas, many elements of the 33-year-old's game remains prominent and effective.
In 11 fights between 1997-2003, Judah averaged 54.7 punches per round, landed at 24.7 percent (total) and 41 percent (power). In his last three, Judah's numbers are 50, 23.3 and 50.8.
The defensive numbers have waned somewhat, natural given his age and better level of opposition. He enjoyed a plus-4.6 gap in total connects (24.7 percent to 20.1 percent) then but a minus-0.5 gap now (23.3-23.8). The power gap, however, has swelled from plus-14.1 then (41.0-26.9) to plus-18.6 now (50.8-32.2).
Interestingly, Judah's punch distribution has changed. While both versions threw more jabs than power shots, the gap has grown as the younger version threw 65 percent jabs while the current model throws 76 percent jabs -- no doubt a byproduct of Whitaker's teachings.
Prediction: Judah will always be a dangerous proposition because of his lightning speed and concussive power. But Khan has the speed to box with Judah and the power to earn respect. Khan will face danger early, but he will box his way to a unanimous decision victory.
For more CompuBox statistics on Amir Khan vs. Zab Judah, go to the Inside Fight Week Blog.
Posted 12:00 AM | Jul 22, 2011
HBO WCB - July 23, 2011