King Khan Dices With … Mild Irritation In Las Vegas
Many have tried and many have failed. For all their arrogance, love of shooting each other and questionable taste in sitcoms, the US of A remains the holy grail for those seeking fame and fortune whether it be in sport, the talkies, the goggle box or other archaic phrases for show-business. To paraphrase and contort a phrase associated with one small part of the nation and apply it to entire country ‘if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.’ If you come to the attention of the Americans, then surely it’s only a matter of time before you can expect the money to roll in. Or the CIA storm your compound in rural Pakistan.
Oasis tried and failed, Take That couldn’t do it and Piers Morgan is currently in the process of trying and failing. Amir Khan is the latest Brit heading stateside in the hope of taking the next step in his career. He doesn’t have a Wonderwall or a Back For Good in the locker, but in his favour are arguably the quickest hands in the Light Welterweight division and the type of glitzy boxing shorts that will get you noticed. He’s already made a couple of attempts to woo the Americans, but now the charm offensive moves to another level. On this occasion he takes on Zab Judah in the what may not prove to be the toughest fight in his career to date, but certainly the one that will make the Americans pay him a little more attention.
Khan’s speed has never been in doubt, but his chin has been the worry and with that in mind, he has spent much of his time in the build-up to this fight insisting its more granite than glass. King Khan has been doing all the usual things you’d do to improve the strength of his jaw – hanging around the bars Glasgow making comments about how much he loves the Royal family, eating mouthful after mouthful of Chewits and perhaps most relevantly, getting punched in the head by Manny Pacquiao. “Manny’s hit me with a clean back hand, his hardest shot, and I walked straight onto it and still stood there,” explained the Bolton lad, who was so clearly delighted at staying upright after a punch that he overlooked the fact that walking straight into a punch isn’t really the done thing at the highest level of boxing. We’re not entirely convinced, but he seems pretty certain and at the end of the day, that’s what really matters.
In certain ways, Judah is Khan’s Ghost of Christmas Future or – to use a more modern reference – his blonde Gwyneth Paltrow in Sliding Doors; a vision of how his future may pan out if things don’t go to plan. Similar to Khan, Judah’s speed has always been his trump card, but his ability to get caught has led to defeats that have stalled the trajectory of his career. That said, Khan is taking a risk in fighting Judah and not just because the American has a dubious rein on sanity. It’s a step he needs to take however if he wants the Americans to start throwing the dollars in his general direction and regular excuses to visit Las Vegas. Either that or he could have an affair with Tiger Woods.
Khan comes into the fight with questions to answer. A couple of favourable decisions on cuts have meant he’s been able to sidestep a couple of tough examinations that would have told us a lot about him. Against both Marco Antonio Barrera and Paul McCloskey, Khan looked the most likely winner, but the intervention of the referee spared him the hassle of negotiating his way past tricky opponents. Judah has the potential to be immensely tricky and has the power to test the Khan chin, but one man’s ‘canny experience’ is another man’s ‘over the hill’ and the ravages of age make Judah less of a threat than he once was. He even addressed the age issue in some dismissive pre-fight comments, but in boxing the off-hand dismissal is really an implicit acknowledge that a boxer is fully aware of his own Achilles heel. “It’s a boxing fight between two young stars who are trying to fulfil their goals in boxing and move onto the next level,” Zudah said in comments that sound uncomfortably like a mother insisting that she and her daughter ‘get mistaken for sisters all the time’.
Khan is expected to win, but whether or not it’ll be the masterful performance to capture the hearts of the Americans is another matter. Judah can make it an awkward night for him and keep him on his toes. Still though – a win and increasing his profile in front of an American audience? Surely Khan will take that.
– Amir Khan v Zab Judah Betting