Amir Khan vs. Zab Judah: Sparring Partner Perspectives

As told to Peter Owen Nelson

Photo: Peter Owen NelsonBesides sparring with Amir Khan, Cleotis “Mookie” Pendarvis (10-3-2) has worked with world champions Oscar De La Hoya, Diego Corrales, Rickey Hatton, Shane Mosley, and Antonio Margarito. He fights this Friday on a show at the Hollywood Park Casino in Inglewood, CA.

Amir was some of the fastest sparring I’ve done. In the early going, it took some time to cope with his speed. I had to up my level of competition to help him prepare.

He throws a lot of punches at different angles. He’s in and out. He’ll step the right and attack. He’ll end up on the side of you out of nowhere. I haven’t sparred anyone who fights like Amir.

Because he jumps in, he can be vulnerable to a southpaw’s right hook. It took me about two days to understand and pick up on all his mistakes — but he picked up on my mistakes, too.

If Amir can box, but remain aggressive — if he can dictate the pace, but also keep on the move — he will win a unanimous decision.

David Rodela (15-4-3) has served as a longtime sparring partner for Manny Pacquiao. In addition to campaigning as a lightweight, he manages a boxing gym in Oxnard, CA.

I worked with Zab for a week toward the end of his sparring. A lot of guys now spar three times a week, but he spars everyday. I went six to eight rounds on five consecutive days with him.

I’m not going to lie: he can crack. He has power on his punches. But he’s going to have to land them.

One day after sparring, Zab asked me, “Who’s faster, me or Amir?” I know the expectation is that I’ll tell him he is because he’s paying me to spar, but I’m an honest guy, so I tell him, “Amir is.”

“What? What do you mean?”

“Amir is faster than you, bro. I’m not going to lie to you.”

I know Zab is now trying to do more Pernell Whitaker-style moves. At one point, I threw a body shot and he leapt back with both feet. I was like, “What the hell was that?” But Pernell began shouting that he couldn’t have done it better himself. I was like, “What the hell is this?”

I think Amir is simply too quick for Zab and the fight will be stopped in round seven or eight.