Dan Rafael of ESPN.com reports that a July 23 fight between Amir Khan and Zab Judah looks likely, and that he expects the deal to be done by tomorrow.
Khan (25-1, 17 KO) was expected to fight Timothy Bradley on July 23, but that fell apart for reasons that seem obvious to me but don't jibe with what some are selling. I won't get into all of that, because we've been over it enough, but the important thing is that fight isn't happening, and this one appears to be close to done.
Actually, no, look. I think the bill of goods being sold by some right now is really, really weak. For one thing, Amir Khan's "brave" offer of 50% of the UK PPV to Bradley came after they knew for a fact that Bradley was not going to take that fight. Yes, yes, respect to Khan making the "offer," but if you want my genuine opinion and not just a recital of things that happened, that was 100% empty. Khan could have offered Bradley 100% of the UK PPV. Same thing. It's easy to offer what you know won't be accepted.
It was clear a good while ago that Timothy Bradley was going to ride out his current promotional contract and then look for a new deal elsewhere. How would fighting Khan on 7/23 help Bradley's negotiating position? If he did that as basically a one-off under Gary Shaw's care, and he lost, how does that improve his standing any? When Bradley goes to the table with however many promoters he meets with in six weeks or so, here's what he has going for him:
- He's undefeated.
- He's American.
- He's got a future at welterweight.
- He's in his prime.
- He has a TV profile and is in demand.
If he fights and loses to Khan, he would no longer be undefeated and demand would be lowered because of that -- he's no longer unbeaten top junior welterweight Timothy Bradley, he's a guy who just lost to Amir Khan and lowered his value. I'm not saying undefeated records matter to me, they don't. I'm saying it's going to be something he can point to when he's talking money with the power players in boxing, be it Top Rank, Golden Boy, or anyone else.
There's also the distinct possibility that, with opponents running low for Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr hanging out with Rob Kardashian instead of fighting, Top Rank sees Bradley as an investment. An undefeated American investment who can fight Manny Pacquiao in 2012.
If Bradley fought and lost to Khan on July 23, he'd be potentially giving up untold millions to take -- at the very, very best -- a $1.4 million guarantee with UK PPV revenue. Yes, it would be a great payday for him. But it's not the best he can do for himself right now if in fact he has something bigger that he can count on coming his way in the next six weeks. He's 27 years old and the demand for Khan vs Bradley is all in the minds of people who make lists of fighters in order of their perceived skill and/or records. That fight, like Alexander vs Bradley, is not all that big out in the real world. Top Rank could, conceivably, sign Bradley, build him up with their promotional power, and have a money opponent in his prime for Manny Pacquiao next year.
There's no rush for Bradley to cash out. I just don't get the strange bias against him right now. Khan made an empty offer and it's like he swooped in and put out a forest fire that saved 100 babies and dogs. It's madness.
I promise this is the last time I'll go into this, but it's all so transparent to me that I can't believe people are buying this ludicrous idea that Timothy Bradley is scared of Amir Khan or "ducking" him. There's a lot more to it than that, and to flat-out ignore the contract situation or brush it off like it doesn't matter is bizarre to me.
Zab Judah is a fine replacement opponent, as good and as marketable as Khan was going to find. I do much prefer this to Khan vs Robert Guerrero, which seemed to be leading the race to find Khan an opponent quickly, and it's far, far better than Khan picking off what's left of Erik Morales.
That said, if Khan dominates Judah and makes the 33-year-old Brooklyn native look slow and old, don't be surprised. Judah's comeback has been slightly oversold -- he beat Jose Armando Santa Cruz, Lucas Matthysse, and Kaizer Mabuza, and despite a few scattered reports that Zab is "BETTER THAN EVER," I don't think I can even kind of agree with that. Matthysse gave him serious problems and had Judah running at the end of the fight, and Mabuza was no cakewalk, either. And we're not exactly talking about the cream of the crop in either case.
I like the fight fine, which I've said before. I prefer it to anything Khan could have done except rematch Maidana. But I expect Khan to roll if he doesn't get caught early by the six rounds of speed and pop Judah seems to have left in him anymore.