By Keith Idec
NEW YORK — Their fight was surprisingly easy for Amir Khan, so completely unproblematic that plenty of boxing observers believe it signaled the beginning of the end of Zab Judah’s star-crossed career.
Khan is among those, though, that thinks the Brooklyn-bred Judah has another championship run left in his 34-year-old body. The former IBF/WBA junior welterweight champ expects Judah (41-7, 28 KOs, 2 NC) to defeat Detroit’s Vernon Paris (26-0, 15 KOs, 3 NC) on Saturday night in Brooklyn and put himself back in position to win another world title.
“Judah still has it in him,” said Khan, who knocked out Judah with a body shot in the fifth round July 23 in Las Vegas. “He has a lot of experience. When we fought him, it was tricky. I think speed is what broke him down, but he has his own speed as well. I still think he can be up there and he still has a lot in his tank to become a champion again.”
The winner of the Judah-Paris 12-round elimination match (NBC Sports Network; 10 p.m. ET) will become the No. 1 challenger for the winner of Khan’s rematch against Lamont Peterson (30-1-1, 15 KOs) on May 19 in Las Vegas. If Judah and Khan (26-2, 18 KOs) win their respective fights there’d be very little public interest in a rematch, which would likely lead to Judah fighting another IBF contender for a vacated title.
Judah won the then-vacant IBF belt by stopping South Africa’s Kaizer Mabuza (24-8-3, 15 KOs) in the seventh round last March 5 in Newark, N.J. Mabuza and Judah were the IBF’s top two contenders for a championship stripped from Devon Alexander when the St. Louis southpaw decided to face undefeated Timothy Bradley in a unification fight in January 2011.
England’s Khan isn’t interested in facing Judah again, but he’ll pull for Judah from afar.
“Overall, he’s a good fighter,” Khan said. “I’m a fan of Zab Judah. I’ve been watching him for a long, long time. … Pernell’s going to bring the best out of him. Think about it — he beat [Lucas] Matthysse [by split decision in November 2010], and Matthysse, in my opinion, beat Devon Alexander [in June 2011]. And now look at what Devon Alexander just did. He just won [against Marcos Maidana on Feb. 25].
“Different styles make fights. Maybe my style suited Judah’s style, to beat him and everything. Judah’s still got it in him, I think. He proved it by beating Matthysse, and that wasn’t that long ago.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com.