As told to Peter Owen Nelson
After Thursday’s press conference at the Mandalay Bay Casino, Freddie Roach and his peripatetic caravan of fighters headed to the IBA gym off the strip, in a residential area of Las Vegas. There, the five-time Boxing Writers’ Association of America Trainer of the Year discussed privately some of the core strategic planning for Amir Khan to defend his WBA title from IBF champ Zab Judah:
To take away Zab’s power, Amir is going to land combinations and move to Zab’s right. Zab crouches down a lot, and Amir will be able to the uppercut nicely as he times Zab dipping down. My aim for Amir is to land two to three punch combinations and move out. In sparring he would throw three or even four hooks to the body at a time. He even knocked down a sparring partner with those shots, but in the fight we want him to throw one and then pivot to get an angle on Zab and further take advantage of openings from there. You can’t stay in one place for too long in front of Zab. His best punch is rolling the right hand and countering with the left — either an uppercut or straight. As long as Amir isn’t falling into the pocket after his own right hand and keeps his footwork clean, he should be able to take that shot away from Zab. When Zab walks away from Amir, as soon as his back foot is up in the air, Amir is going to pounce on him because it’s a habit Zab has that leaves him off balance and defenseless. If Zab walks to the ropes, Amir also can’t just follow him in. He has to use his feints well to open Zab up and then attack. We are going to be the aggressor in this fight. When I see Zab begin to fade, I’m going to tell Amir to go in for the kill — with caution, but we’re going to go for the knockout if it’s there for us.