The negotiations have settled, the social media battles are raging and on Saturday, July 23, two of boxing's best will step into the ring to unify the 140-pound weight division when rising superstar and WBA Champion Amir "King" Khan faces Five-Time World Champion and current IBF Junior Welterweight Titleholder Zab "Super" Judah at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nev. The fight will be a super lightweight world championship unification bout televised live on HBO's World Championship Boxing.
The fight, which figures to be a classic match-up of two fighters with blazing speed who also punch with power and brute force, has led to a litany of questions regarding the outcome.
Does Khan have enough experience to deal with a veteran such as Judah? Will Judah be able to keep pace with the younger Khan? Will each fighter be able to handle the power of the other and reach the final bell? On July 23 at Mandalay Bay, all of these questions, among others, will be answered.
"I'm excited to have the opportunity to unify the 140-pound division which always has been a dream of mine," said Khan. "Fighting Zab was the toughest option my team presented to me, but a true champion is up for any challenge. I already was in training camp because it doesn't matter who I fight; I will train hard no matter who it is because I want to be the best."
"I got what I wanted, so I am happy. Now it's time to go work," said Judah. "I've been praying on this fight. My goal is to be undisputed champion at two weights. I did it at 147 and I'm gonna do it at 140 starting with Amir Khan. I'm gonna work hard. I'm very experienced, so whichever way he brings the fight, I can deal with it and take it from him."
"We know that boxing fans are asking for the best fights out there and we are giving the fight fans what they want with Khan vs. Judah on July 23," said Richard Schaefer, CEO of Golden Boy Promotions. "These two champions are going to leave the trash-talking behind and let their fists fly on July 23, but only one will come out as the unified 140-pound champion and we are confident that will be Amir 'King' Khan."
"In the end, Zab and Main Events decided to stop quibbling about a few percentage points and get the fight into the ring. Zab's real upside will come after he wins the fight and moves on to an even bigger payday," said Kathy Duva, CEO of Main Events. "It is an intriguing fight on many levels. Both fighters have engaging personalities and exciting styles. As a promoter, I couldn't be happier about this opportunity. As a fan, I can't want to see the fight!"
"It is great to have Amir back fighting in the United States at Mandalay Bay in a massive unification fight against Judah who has shared the ring with the best fighters out there," said Asif Vali of Khan Promotions. "We know Amir has what it takes to accomplish his dream and unify the division and he will be ready for July."
"Judah vs. Khan will be an explosive exhibition of the true definition of boxing," said Bill Halkias of Super Judah Promotions. "It's two world champion fighters who possess speed, power and all around natural boxing ability meeting in a high paced matchup that is guaranteed to quench any boxing fans thirst for excitement. The 4th of July might have been a more fitting day for this fight because without a doubt, it will be full of fireworks."
"This is a great showdown between two champions who always bring excitement into the ring," said Kery Davis, senior vice president programming HBO Sports. "Both fighters are looking for a win here to prove that they'rethe top of the junior welterweight division."
Amir "King" Khan (25-1, 17 KOs), who despite being only 24 years old, already is a star in the United Kingdom, selling out huge arenas and racking up impressive pay-per-view numbers. Considered one of the sport's future stars, Khan has sailed to the heights of the amateur and professional boxing worlds, however, he is far from finished on his quest to becoming the best of his era.
An accomplished amateur who earned a silver medal at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens at only 17 years old, the Bolton, England native took the professional game by storm in 2005 and, with the exception of a brief bump in the road in 2008 when he was upset by Breidis Prescott, Khan has since been unstoppable.
A World Champion since 2009 when he defeated Andreas Kotelnik that July, Khan has defended his crown four times, first knocking out previously undefeated Dmitriy Salita in less than one round. Next, in his United States debut at Madison Square Garden in May 2010, he dominated the always tough Paul "Magic Man" Malignaggi en route to an 11th-round technical knockout win.
On December 11, 2010 at Mandalay Bay, Khan battled Marcos "Chino" Maidana in what was eventually named the Boxing Writers Association of America 2010 Fight of the Year. Khan dominated the early rounds including a first-round knockdown, but Maidana closed the gap in the later rounds. Khan later displayed some extremely impressive fortitude in surviving a vicious 10th-round onslaught by Maidana in which the British star looked to be on the brink of being knocked out.
However, Khan made it out of the round on his feet and came out swinging in the 11th and 12th rounds sealing the unanimous decision victory in an instant classic. In his last fight on April 16, Khan retained his title by defeating European Champion Paul "Dudey" McCloskey via technical decision in front of a sell-out crowd of more than 17,000 at the MEN Arena in Manchester, England. A win over Judah will make Khan a unified world champion and take him a step closer to becoming one of the best of his era.
A native of Brooklyn, New York who now lives and trains in Las Vegas, Zab "Super" Judah (40-6, 28 KOs) established himself as one of the best boxers of his era by winning multiple world championships at 140 and 147 pounds. With wins over Cory "Next Generation" Spinks, DeMarcus "Chop Chop" Corley, Junior "The Hitter" Witter and Terronn "The Tramp" Millett, and having waged war with the likes of Floyd "Money" Mayweather and Miguel Cotto in what many considered 2007's Fight of the Year, the 33-year-old Judah is well aware of what it takes to win when the spotlight is shining brightest.
In July of 2010, after having fought only once in nearly two years, Judah made a huge statement to the boxing world with a third-round technical knockout over former World Champion Jose Armando Santa Cruz. Employing a vicious, perfectly timed uppercut, Judah drove Santa Cruz to the canvas in the third round and wasted no time finishing him off.
In his next fight on November 6, Judah faced then undefeated Argentine knockout artist Lucas Matthysse. During the fight, Judah clearly dominated the early rounds. The power-punching Argentine made a strong push in the late rounds, sending Judah to the canvas in the 10th round. The veteran Judah skillfully regrouped and scored a 12-round decision victory.
On March 5 of this year, with his new trainer and former World Champion Pernell Whitaker in his corner, Judah became a Five-Time World Champion when he scored a devastating seventh-round knockout of Kaizer Mabuza to capture the IBF Junior Welterweight World Championship.
Judah used slick head movement, quickness and solid footwork to frustrate the taller South African. When the seventh round began Judah exploded with a huge straight left hand that propelled Mabuza through the ropes. The referee stopped the fight shortly after Judah capitalized with a barrage of power punches that seriously hurt Mabuza.
Defeating Khan will continue to set Judah up for some of the sport's most lucrative fights, and it will go a long way towards cementing him as a Hall of Famer.