Unification bouts rarely come without a lot on the line for both champions.
In the case of light welterweights Amir Khan who holds the WBA title and IBF belt holder Zab Judah who meet this Saturday at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, there might be even more at stake than usual.
Judah at 33 has been here many times before, and truth be told has tended to lose when it has mattered most. Albeit with most of those losses coming at welterweight and Judah managing to come back after each one to win further titles.
Even for a prodigious talent like Judah though climbing back up to the top gets a little harder each time and he came a lot closer to losing than he would have liked against the twice recently unlucky Lucas Matthysse.
A loss to Khan on Saturday could mean the end to Judah’s days as a world champion, and given his awkward style he isn’t a fighter many are going to bring in as an opponent.
Khan problem isn’t so much with his track record, but that there are still large sections of both the press and fans unconvinced by him. And the crux of the matter is still and may forever be, his chin.
Despite weathering a late barrage of punches from Marcos Maidana that would have felled lesser fighters last year, there are still numerous critics who doubt his chin due to the first round knockout at lightweight he suffered against Breidis Prescott.
A knockout loss to Judah, regardless of how well timed the punch is or whether it would have stopped any fighter, and Khan’s reputation is firmly sealed to his critics as a flawed fighter with a glass jaw.
A slip up of any kind permanently derails Khan and Golden Boy’s plans of having him face Floyd Mayweather in the near future.
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For the winner, there is also now the potential to quickly become regarded the number one fighter in the division
Initially after Khan vs. Judah was announced it appeared that the the winner would be just shy of being recognized the best fighter at 140lbs, an honor which for the time being still rests with the deeper record of WBC/WBO champ Tim Bradley.
With news breaking earlier this week of Bradley being sued by both of his former promoters however, a lengthy spell out of the ring for ‘Desert Storm’ could radically alter the standings.
Bradley has mentioned in several recent interviews his interest in the Khan-Judah winner. His former promoters who claim he owes them one more fight, aren’t going to let that or any other fight happen anytime soon without their involvement.
A win for either Khan or Judah then, followed by a defense against a decent opponent and Bradley’s spot at the top isn’t so secure.
A longer sit out during which time the best and brightest emerge and move on to the more lucrative welterweight division, and Bradley may find himself the king of an empty division.
Sid Albrecht, Pitt: “If Bradley signs with Top Rank and Khan wins they won’t fight anyway because he’s with Golden Boy”