Amir Khan believes he will face the sternest test of his career when he goes head to head with Zab Judah in Las Vegas on Saturday night.
The 24-year-old is looking to add Judah's IBF light-welterweight title to his own WBA belt at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and is under no illusions about the task in hand. A top-level campaigner for more than a decade, Judah first picked up the title he currently holds when he climbed off the canvas to stop South Africa's Jan Piet Bergman in 2000.
Meetings with Floyd Mayweather, Kosta Tszyu and Miguel Cotto followed for the 33-year-old American, who has operated with distinction across two weight classes.
"I think he could be the toughest one yet," Khan said yesterday. "He's a five-time world champion and a two-weight world champion. He's very experienced. He's got skill and that southpaw style, which is very awkward."
Nevertheless, Judah has tasted defeat six times during a 49-fight career and Khan is confident of a victory he thinks could send his opponent into retirement.
"There is always a young lion coming up and I'm going to take him out and take his throne," said the Bolton fighter. "I want world titles and he holds a world title.
"It's a unification fight and I hope he's been training hard because once I win I think that's it for Zab Judah, I think he'll have to hang his gloves up."
Many good judges expect the bout between two slick operators to produce its share of fireworks, something Khan welcomed after his previous outing against another southpaw, Northern Ireland's Paul McCloskey, came to an unsatisfactory conclusion.
Khan had been awarded every round by all three ringside judges when an accidental clash of heads in the sixth round opened a cut above the left eye of European champion McCloskey and brought an early conclusion to the scrappy bout.
Controversy ensued as the Irishman's camp insisted their man should have been allowed to continue with an injury that required seven stitches. Although Khan largely agrees with this stance, he feels McCloskey was complicit in his own downfall.
"It seemed to me, when the ref was having a look at him and calling the doctor in, that Paul McCloskey was just quiet," Khan said.Reuse content