As told to Peter Owen Nelson
KEYS FOR ZAB JUDAH:
1) Pace: Zab is often a fast starter, quick out of the gate. Zab had great success in the early going against Miguel Cotto (stunning him twice), Floyd Mayweather (scoring an unacknowledged knockdown when Floyd’s glove touched the canvas), and even Kosta Tzsyu (before being knocked out). Against Khan, he will need to keep up the work rate he has in the early rounds through the later rounds. Zab’s timing combined with his hand speed can contend with Khan’s overall speed, but only if he maintains his stamina.
2) Pressure: Zab is the harder puncher of the two, but to use it to his advantage he has to stay with Khan if Khan won’t follow him. If Zab cannot set traps that the younger fighter will fall for, then he cannot allow Khan to throw flurries and flutter away. Zab can counterpunch, but must do so every exchange and not let up.
3) Footwork: While Zab may have the faster hand speed, there is no doubt that the 9-year younger Khan has the faster foot speed. Zab will need to counteract this with timing. He’ll have to cut the ring off on Khan to disrupt his rhythm and find openings by taking Khan off guard.
KEYS FOR AMIR KHAN
1) Jab: Amir out-jabbed Malignaggi and the jab is a terrific one. It is one of the best jabs in boxing today. He will have to double up and triple up on the jab to prevent Zab from ever developing a rhythm of his own or finding openings to counterpunch.
2) Range: You cannot will what nature did not provide, and an indomitable chin is not an asset Khan has. He was knocked out in a single round by a journeyman and Marcos Maidana had him looking like a drunk in search of a lampost in the tenth round of their fight in 2010 (though Khan never went down). In the early rounds against Judah especially, Khan will need to show a good defense through a good offense, and a good offense means using his longer reach to stay out of Judah’s range.
3) Exploit the later rounds: as Zab slows down, Khan will have to take greater risks to achieve greater ends. To stop Zab, he will need to take chances on throwing three or four punch combinations. This may expose him to danger, but if he fights intelligently, Amir should be able to open up with his right hand and use his youth and conditioning to outwork the elder Judah and possibly stop him through volume-punching. Zab’s will has been questioned in the past. Amir’s job will be to convince Zab of a definitive answer: that if Zab knows what’s best for him, he’ll quit.