Zab Judah - Amir Khan boxing match only weeks away

Jul 5, 2011 3:05 AM

We’re now only weeks away from the highly anticipated 140 lb. bout between Zab Judah and Amir Khan at Mandalay Bay on July 23.

Both men have been battling it out on Twitter since agreeing to meet, and after spending the day with Judah at his Hit Factory Gym (off Sahara and Paradise), I can promise you this is a fight he’s really wanted.

It allows him to get another step closer to unifying the 140 lb. title, a goal he’s had since already doing it at 147 lbs. Plus, it gives him an opportunity to go up against a prized pupil of Freddie Roach, who has taken jabs at Zab in the past.

Khan has stated he expects to get his chin tested against the southpaw, but it’s also a challenge he’s looking forward to in looking to rest the questions surrounding his ability to take a punch.

Khan is a huge -450 favorite to survive and conquer. The Mandalay Bay Events Center here in Las Vegas will be the center of the boxing world on July 23 when these two finally meet.

This coming Saturday all eyes will be on Atlantic City, N.J., as HBO’s Boxing After Dark series welcomes back Paul Williams in his first fight since a brutal KO loss to Sergio Martinez back in November at this very same arena.

Once recognized as a fighter nobody wanted to face, "The Punisher" (39-2, 27 KO’s) at age 29 is now in need of a win for a chance to face Martinez in a rubber match after winning their first meeting by a majority decision.

Williams claims his plans are to fight only two or three more times since he’s been successful enough in the business world. But before he calls it a career the goal is to line up a couple of mega-fights to cement his legacy and even win another championship.

First he has to get past Erislandy Lara (15-0-1, 10 KO’s), who is anything but a tune-up fight. Lara may just be the perfect type of opponent to see if Williams can recover from such a vicious KO loss and if he really does still have the passion to pursuit a title.

Many felt Lara was the favorite to bring Cuba the gold medal in the 2008 Olympics, but he chose instead to defect and follow in the footsteps of his countrymen Odlanier Solis, Yan Barthelemy, and Yuriorkis Gamboa by making his way to Hamburg, Germany to fight under Arena-Box Promotion.

Oddsmakers have Williams listed as a -320 favorite to get past Lara, but before you rush out to bet the chalk, I caution there is not much value at that price. In fact, if the betting public forces bookmakers to raise this price I believe the dog may be live.

Lara is giving up over four inches in height and his stock dropped after a less than spectacular draw in his last fight against Carlos Molina here at the Cosmopolitan, which I attended. The southpaw had taken out his prior four opponents in the first round, but was not physically or mentally prepared for Molina.

Don’t let Lara’s 16 pro fights lure you into thinking he lacks experience. At 28 years old, he’s had a storied amateur career of over 300 fights. He is now trained by Ronnie Shields and is a very slick southpaw who is technically sound, like most Cuban fighters.

The key will be how he handles the heavy volume of punches Williams fires in each round. Williams is a tall fighter for this division but he doesn’t fight tall. He is prone to slouch and prefers to fight in close rather than use his long reach.

Lara will have some chances to land a big shot since he does hit hard with both hands. But if Williams can get him up against the ropes he may get a chance to land that thundering upper cut and also test Lara’s chin.

Bottom line, it appears Williams will be able to outwork Lara and get ahead on the scorecards. But it won’t be an easy night by any means and I am not willing to back up that opinion with money or back "The Punisher" against a very dangerous and live dog like Lara.

So we’ll pass on this fight and look ahead to one’s where the betting line offers us the opportunity to get the best of it like the Klitschko line did.

South Point Hotel Casino will be showcasing "Fire & Fury" on Friday, July 29, which will also be airing live on TeleFutura’s Solo Boxeo Tecate.

The main event is sure to produce plenty of action as the WBA and IBA Light Heavyweight World Champion, Beibut Shumenov (11-1, 7 KO’s) puts his title on the line against WBA ranked challenger Danny Santiago (31-4-1, 19 KO’s).

Shumanov, a former Kazakhstan Olympian, now fights out of Las Vegas and set a light heavyweight record by winning a world title after only 10 pro fights. He has defended his title twice, once against the No. 1 mandatory challenger and also against William Joppy, a former three-time champion.

Shumanov has already beaten four world champions as a pro and his successful amateur career has served him well in preparing him for top level competition.

Santiago has fought for the light heavyweight title against Zsolt Erdei and Antonio Tarver but came up short in 2007. He’s a Bronx native who was recently scheduled to meet Roy Jones Jr. before that fight fell through. Now he gets his third chance to fight for a title and says he will be ready on fight night.

It should be a great weekend of fights at South Point, which will also feature full contact MMA (Sin City Fights) the very next night on Saturday, July 30.

VR last week: 4-1 (at Pregame.com)

Overall mark: 25-5 (at Pregame.com)

(Note: Vegas-Runner is a Professional Sports Bettor in Las Vegas. Featured on CNBC & ESPN. Follow VR on Twitter (@Vegasrunner) and at Pregame.com.