Expert Trainer James Gogue Examines Khan vs Judah

By Joseph Herron: This Saturday night at the Mandalay Bay resort and casino in Las Vegas, NV, World Boxing Association (WBA) Junior Welterweight titleholder Amir Khan (25-1, 17 KOs) faces the current IBF Junior Middleweight Champ Zab Judah (41-6, 28 KOs) in a super unification bout within the 140 pound weight division.

With his 28 years of experience in the boxing industry, trainer James Gogue details his analysis of the upcoming mega-fight.

“This is a very intriguing match-up, which will have a lasting effect on the landscape of the highly competitive junior welterweight division; easily our most talent enriched weight class.”

“It’s a unification bout in the hottest division in boxing, it’s on HBO Championship boxing, and it’s in Sin City, USA…it doesn’t get any better than this!!”

“This fight is crucial for both men,” claims James Gogue. “A win would equate to superstardom and a possible Ring title fight with Timothy Bradley for recognition of true 140 pound supremacy, but a loss would leave either fighter back in the ultra competitive junior welterweight horde.”

“So let’s get down to business!!”

“Zab Judah needs no introduction,” states Gogue. “He is easily one of the most naturally gifted fighters to ever step foot in the ring. He has it all; footwork, handspeed, power, reflexes…he is the total package. The only winning variable that he didn’t possess early in his career was character.”

“After turning pro, Judah never quite reached his full potential as a true elite fighter in the sport due in large part to his lack of character. But under the tutelage of Pernell Whitaker, Zab has gained some much needed mental toughness and very valuable defensive improvements.”

“An impressive victory over Khan this Saturday would secure his spot among the top pound for pound fighters in the sport.”

“Judah is a very crafty boxer-puncher who doesn’t like to lead very often,” states James Gogue. “He will use his footwork, control his opponent with his jab, make him make miss, and then counter his opponent effectively while stepping around him. If Zab catches his opponent and hurts him, then he goes in for the kill and tries to put him away.”

“His biggest strength is his overall athleticism. Reflexes, power, footwork, handspeed…as a result, Kahn is going to have a very hard time hitting Zab in this fight. He makes his head a smaller target by using shoulder and head movement while moving laterally.”

Although the experienced trainer recognizes that Zab Judah is a supremely talented fighter, James Gogue also identifies the unique gifts that Amir Khan possesses.

“Amir Khan is also a very gifted fighter whose foundation is also his incredible speed and reflexes. He throws short crisp combinations while utilizing an effective and powerful jab. His offensive skills have been somewhat overlooked recently since he suffered his first lost to Breidis Prescott, but Kahn is still an extremely dangerous offensive opponent.”

“Since moving to Freddie Roach’s Wildcard Gym, he has greatly improved his footwork, which has become his foundation for defense. He uses strategic footwork to maneuver around his opponents by creating the angles he needs to attack his opponents effectively.”

The expert trainer identifies that both men are uniquely talented fighters, but outlines two very different keys to victory for both men.

“The key to victory for Zab Judah is going to be dependent upon his ability to handle Amir Khan’s pressure. The British fighter isn’t going to try and box Judah; he’s going to fight him just like he did Paul McCloskey. When Amir Khan fought McCloskey, he didn’t look as sharp as he did against Paulie Malignaggi because of McCloskey’s crafty style and southpaw stance.”

“Zab Judah’s southpaw stance and crafty counterpunching will give Khan these same stylistic problems, but with the addition of his great speed and power. McCloskey couldn’t punch like Zab, which gave Khan more opportunities to adapt. He won’t have that same luxury when he fights a fighter with the offensive weapons of Zab Judah.”

“Judah’s southpaw stance won’t allow Khan to establish his excellent jab and keep his distance, so Khan will have to resort to pressing the action and getting in close. This plays right into the strengths of Zab Judah. One of the reasons why the southpaw stance is so effective in taking away an orthodox fighter’s jab is the angle it creates with the southpaw’s body positioning.”

“With the southpaw stance, Zab has to lead more often in this fight. He has to throw sharp lead lefts with authority and use his footwork to step out of position after he’s thrown the lead left. He cannot simply plan on catching Khan as he’s coming in because the British fighter is an effective aggressor with a higher punch volume than an opponent like Kaizer Mabuza.”

“Zab’s fight with Mabuza was a lot closer than it could have been. Had Judah led more often with the straight left hand he could have hurt Mabuza earlier in the fight. Zab is a counterpuncher by trade, so getting off first will not be easy for him in this fight.”

“To gain Khan’s respect, Zab absolutely has to get off more than he has grown accustomed. Judah has every weapon in a fighter’s arsenal and he must use those weapons to win this fight. When he gets the opportunity in close quarters, Judah has to go to the body more often to slow Khan down. This will create more opportunities for the lead left, the right hook, and the left uppercut.”

“Bottom line is Judah has to throw more punches to win this fight. If Judah fights Khan like he did Mabuza, he will get outworked by the British fighter. He cannot depend on his home-run punch in this fight.”

In the keys to victory for Amir Khan, trainer James Gogue identifies a fight plan which leaves very little margin of error.

“This is going to be a very difficult fight for Amir Khan. Judah is a very crafty southpaw who is difficult to hit cleanly. Amir has to have patience in this fight to be effective. He cannot be overly zealous if he wants to win this important fight. Zab depends on frustrating his opponents and catching them as they come in with a big left uppercut or straight left hand.”

“Khan has to be patient when he stalks Judah in this fight. Khan is going to have a hard time establishing his jab but he must not abandon it. Khan’s entire arsenal is built around that great lead jab, but he must apply intelligent pressure in this fight by using feints with his jabs and straight right hands.”

“Judah is a very rhythmic fighter, and Khan absolutely must implement feints to disrupt Zab’s rhythm and timing. This is vital to Khan’s success in this fight. Khan is fighting one of the best counterpunchers in boxing, so he must utilize feints with a mix of hard jabs and touch jabs sporadically.”

“Once Khan disrupts Judah’s rhythm and finds that range with his touch jab, he must throw punches in bunches just like he did in the McCloskey fight. After he lands, Amir Khan must pivot out of harm’s way. He cannot stick around to admire his work. If a fighter leaves an opening for Judah, Zab will make him pay for it; so Khan must get in and out of the line of fire quickly.”

“If Khan can step around Judah after he lands his combinations effectively, he can counter Judah’s counter. Khan has to get his punches off first and step around to land counter shots effectively. But, Khan must always be patient and choose his openings wisely if he wants to win this fight.”

After carefully analyzing the two fighters, James Gogue envisions this fight being a very strategic chess match.

“This fight will depend on what the style the judges prefer. If two judges prefer to see effective counterpunching while using slick defensive skill, Judah will win this fight. If two judges reward effective aggression and higher volume punching, Khan will get a hard fought decision.”

“My prediction for the fight is that Khan’s experience fighting McCloskey will serve him well in this fight. He gained valuable knowledge fighting a southpaw before this fight and has used his camp to correct the mistakes made against McCloskey.”

“Khan will win a close and possibly split decision based on his higher work rate and punch initiative. It will be a very competitive bout, but Khan will be able to avoid most of Judah’s shots as he’s attacking.”

“Amir Khan will win this fight with a 12 round split decision.”