Saturday night at the Mandalay Bay Casino, Amir "King" Khan knocked out Zab Judah with a right uppercut at 2:47 of the fifth round. Khan advances to a record of 26-1, unifying the WBA and IBF junior welterweight crowns. The division now boasts the only two unified champions between Khan and Timothy Bradley. Judah, 33, slips to a record of 41-7, failing to capitalize on the opportunity to win his sixth world title.
On a five fight winning streak, Judah had been riding the wave of a substantive comeback, which clearly crested sometime before Khan landed his first jab. The only significant speed Judah showed was after each round when he would run back to the corner to rest from Khan's onslaught.
The momentum of the fight's action belonged to the Briton from the opening bell, as Judah failed even to throw a punch until forty seconds into the fight. By the end of the fourth, Judah was bleeding out of his mouth. By the end of the fight, Khan had outlanded his opponent 60-20 according to CompuBox.
Before an attendance of 7,279, Khan dominated the early rounds with his jabs, combinations, youth, and speed - all of which were nearly drowned out by the sound of Judah's whining. The southpaw veteran continually complained to referee Vic Drakulich about slipping and headbutting. Judah threw a scant 115 punches, and though he found success with a counter left uppercut to the body, he rarely threw it.
The blow that ended the fight, an uppercut on the belt of Judah's black and gold trunks, was borderline, but not controversial. After the fight, Judah claimed, "That was clearly a low blow." Khan defended the shot, saying, "I hit him right on the belt."
According to Drakulich's own standards as laid out prior to the fight, both men were correct: the referee had stated that punches below the trunks would be deemed low. He, however, did not enforce his own criteria as he counted Judah out. Khan said a knockout was only a matter of time, stating, "Sooner or later, I could have knocked him out with a clean shot." Perhaps a poor choice of diction. The crowd (split between Khan and Judah factions) was largely unresponsive to Judah's outcry. Khan had trounced his man, winning every round on every judge's scorecard. Many seemed to believe what trainer Freddie Roach opined after the fight, "Zab wanted to quit."
In the locker room after the fight, Khan did not have a mark on him apart from the lipstick from his mother's kisses upon greeting him. Khan said after the fight, "I was in the best conditioning of my life thanks to Freddie [Roach] and Alex [Ariza]." After a fallout over a contractual dispute, strength coach Ariza rejoined the Khan team and the results were visible in Khan's feet and on Judah's face. Between superior conditioning and execution of his mastermind trainer's game plans, Khan has become formidable junior welterweight and an exciting possible campaigner in the stacked welterweight division of Floyd Mayweather, Victor Ortiz (whom Khan defeated in the amateurs), and Manny Pacquiao (whom, due to their friendship and shared tutelage under Roach, Khan has publicly stated he will never fight).
Whether Khan decides to continue to headhunt Timothy Bradley (who was the original opponent scheduled for Saturday's fight before dropping out) or graduate to the welterweight division remains an outstanding question. Khan's promoter Richard Schaefer said after the bout, "If Bradley didn't want to fight Khan then, he doesn't want to fight Khan now after seeing that." For Khan's part, he said, "I'm number one in the division. Now, I'll go back and see what my team will line up for me next."