By John Gabriel Thompson: Amir Khan (26-1-0, 18 KO’s) from Greater Manchester, England stopped Zab Judah (41-7, 28 KO’s) from Las Vegas in the fifth round of their bout this evening at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada on HBO World Championship Boxing.
Though the stoppage may be questionable, Khan’s domination of Judah was not. Khan had the faster hands, the better game plan, and despite Judah having fought at a higher weight class than his opponent, Khan came into the bout with clear height and reach advantages.
Judah, a former undisputed welterweight champion, originally from Brooklyn, New York won five straight (three by stoppage) since his loss to Joshua Clottey (a fight stopped on cuts) in 2008. Now trained by boxing legend Pernell “Sweat Pea” Whitaker, Judah won the vacant IBF Light Welterweight Title in his last bout, stopping Kaiser Mabuza in the seventh.
Nine years younger at age twenty-four, Amir Khan won seven straight (three by stoppage) since his almost career derailing first round knockout loss to Breidis Prescott also in 2008. Now trained by one of the best in the business, Freddie Roach, Khan won the WBA World Light Welterweight Title, earning a unanimous decision against Andriy Kotelnyk. Khan has also taken steps to erase the image of him having a “glass chin” after his extremely crowd pleasing fight of the year candidate bout against Marcos Maidana back in December.
Judah’s face was busted up quickly in this one, suffering a headbutt in the first round. Headbutts aside, Khan’s fists also did their damage as he jabbed or landed the right from a distance. His speed and accuracy caused Judah to bleed from both the mouth and nose in the second. Ringside commentator Emanuel Steward said of Judah, “He’s
letting a sharp puncher throw too many punches without returning punches back.” Khan controlled the distance well, moving in and landing, and then either moving away or tying up before Judah could respond, resulting in a low punch output from Judah.
Khan laid on some punishment in the fifth round landing power shots to Judah’s head. Then, with just under thirty seconds left in the round, Khan landed a hard right to Judah’s belt line. Even after multiple replays, with the way Judah’s trunks cover his belly button, it’s hard to tell whether the punch truly hit him in the groin or the belly; either way, Judah went down and Referee Vic Drakulich started a count. Judah was in pain as Drakulich counted to ten, and did not even look up at the referee to signal about the low blow until after the count was over.
I wrote about Anthony Dirrell stopping his opponent with a low blow last night, and I hate repeating myself like this. Anthony Dirrell dominated his opponent, and would have stopped the man without the low blow, but the referee should not have started a count. In this case Khan was also dominating his opponent. But the shot, while
questionable, landed on the belt line and the referee made a fair decision in starting the count. Steward said, “It wasn’t below the belt, it was on the belt, so legally it would be a low blow, but I don’t think it did that much damage.” HBO’s unofficial score keeper Harold Lederman emphatically stated in response, “The shot should be
legal… He hit him on the belly button; there is no doubt about it.”