By Joseph Herron: Tonight at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada, WBA Junior Welterweight Champ Amir Khan faces off against his toughest opponent to date when he squares up against the IBF 140 pound Champion Zab Judah.
One crucial factor which hasn’t been as scrutinized nearly enough is the role of the trainers in this exciting contest.
Trainer James Gogue analyzes both camps to see which fighter truly has the edge in their corner.
“What most boxing fans don’t realize is that an effective trainer must assume several different roles when cultivating a fighter. Not only does it take a special athlete to become a successful boxer, it also takes a great trainer to cultivate that raw talent into an elite wrecking machine.”
“Most people aren’t aware that a special and gifted trainer is forced to wear many different hats in the gym.”
“A great trainer has to be a communicator, motivator, technician, disciplinarian, manager and most importantly a friend to his pupils. A trainer is nothing without the respect of, not only his disciples, but his peers within the industry as well. A fighter’s success depends on mental as well as physical growth; and without the trust of a great trainer, a fighter’s chances for success in the ring are slim to none.”
“Pernell Whitaker has done a superb job relaunching Zab Judah’s career. Not only is the Hall of Fame fighter one of the greatest boxers of all time, but he is also arguably the greatest defensive fighter in the history of the sport.”
“What he has brought to Zab Judah’s life is immeasurable.”
“Not only has Whitaker added some important defensive skills, but he has also given Judah a Hall of Fame mindset. Believe it or not, boxing is predominantly a mental game. Zab never fully understood this concept until now. This, in my opinion, was Zab’s primary issue as a young fighter.”
“Pernell is enhancing Zab’s game with superior defensive strategies. Up and down head movement, side to side upper body movement, and using his head and upper body at different angles are just some of the different techniques that Judah is perfecting under the wing of Pernell Whitaker.”
“Also, he’s taught Judah to stay low when in the range of another fighter. By using the different variations of head and upper body movement while staying low, a fighter creates a much smaller target for his opponents.”
“With Zab’s improved defensive skills and his new positive and resilient frame of mind going into the ring, Super Judah has become a very difficult fighter to defeat.”
“Another variable which must be factored into the discussion is Judah’s conditioning. In the past, Judah was always regarded as a 6 round fighter…in steps conditioning guru Victor Conte.”
“From what I’ve heard, Zab has never looked better in the ring and seems to have a young fighter’s legs underneath him.”
“Victor Conte’s work with any fighter cannot be discounted. Look at the amazing job he has done with Nonito Donaire and Andre Ward…the improvement is amazing.”
“Expect Judah to be in the best shape of his entire career tonight.”
Although the experienced trainer acknowledges the technical brilliance of Pernell Whitaker his years of experience in the big fights, James Gogue recognizes what training at the Wildcard Gym in Los Angeles means to a fighter.
“Amir Khan made the best decision of his entire career when he decided to employ Roach as his primary trainer.”
“When Khan was brutally knocked out by Breidis Prescott, the aura of something extraordinary had completely vanished and Khan was being referred to by certain members of the media as a shot fighter. One of the reasons why a lot of people considered him to be a ruined fighter after that knock-out loss was due to most fighters’ inability to comeback mentally from a KO of that magnitude.”
“Like the bionic man, Freddie Roach and Alex Ariza reconstructed Khan to be a more physically and mentally durable fighter.”
“Freddie is a five time trainer of the year recipient and his client list speaks for itself. One of the primary reasons why he is so successful as a trainer, is because he is a brilliant motivator who rivals most sports psychologists, as well as being a technically brilliant strategist.”
“Also, he and conditioning coach Alex Ariza have such a great system with which they train their fighters. Alex and Freddie have a symbiotic relationship which ultimately benefits their fighters.”
“The mental and physical conditioning of Amir Khan is the only thing that pulled him through the tenth round of his fight with Marcos Maidana. When a fighter’s legs turn to jello from a perfect shot on the chin, it’s his conditioning and mental toughness that pulls him through the dangerous rounds.”
“When a fighter trains at Wildcard Gym, he not only gets the tutelage of Freddie Roach, but he also gets to spar with elite fighters like Manny Pacquiao and his huge stable of boxers.”
“Khan has greatly improved his footwork and his jab since training at wild card. He has become more proficient at turning and countering his opponent, which has greatly improved his defense, and he has also started using his reach and his height more to his advantage.”
“Expect Khan to be at his best tonight!”
Two of the best trainers in the world and two of the best strength and conditioning coaches on the planet have been working with Zab Judah and Amir Khan.
Which fighter will prove to be the more finely tuned athlete both mentally and physically?
Unfortunately for both fighters, neither trainer nor coach will be in the ring with them.
We will see whose athlete unifies the IBF and WBA 140 pound titles tonight!!