Perking up an otherwise quiet summer for boxing in Las Vegas, junior welterweight champions Amir Khan and Zab Judah will fight July 23 at Mandalay Bay Events Center.
“This is a good fight for Las Vegas,” said Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer, Khan’s promoter. “You have two champions putting their titles on the line with a lot at stake. We talked about Atlantic City, but we think this is a big enough fight that it belongs in the fight capital of the world.”
The HBO-televised fight will be officially announced Saturday at a news conference in Los Angeles.
WBA champion Khan (25-1, 17 knockouts) will be fighting in Las Vegas for only the second time. The Brit narrowly outpointed Marcos Maidana on Dec. 11 at Mandalay Bay to retain his belt in what was voted Fight of the Year by the Boxing Writers Association of America.
IBF champion Judah (41-6, 28 KOs) has fought in Las Vegas several times and moved to Southern Nevada a couple of years ago.
Judah, 33, won his title by defeating Kaizer Mabuza on March 5 in Newark, N.J. He last fought in Las Vegas in 2009, stopping Ubaldo Hernandez in the second round at the Palms.
“I feel Amir is going to be a major headliner in Las Vegas,” Schaefer said. “We believe he can have the same popularity in bringing people over from the U.K. to Vegas that Ricky Hatton did. But this will be a great test for Amir. Zab Judah sees opportunity for himself if he can beat Amir, and I think Zab sees this as a second chance for greatness in his career.”
Khan, 24, initially wanted a bout against Timothy Bradley, the WBC and WBO junior welterweight champion. But Bradley rejected the opportunity to fight Khan.
After Schaefer offered the fight to Erik Morales and was rebuffed, Judah was the next target. The terms were worked out late Monday. Khan will receive 55 percent of the revenue, with Judah getting 45 percent.
“Amir’s dream is to hold all the 140-pound belts, then move up to welterweight and fight the best in that division,” Schaefer said. “Obviously, with Bradley holding two of the belts, he was originally the preferred choice. But if Amir wants all the belts, he would have to fight Zab Judah eventually. So why not fight him right now?”
Khan is coming off an April 16 stoppage of Paul McCloskey in the sixth round at Manchester, England. He dominated McCloskey, and the fight was stopped when the ringside doctor determined the cuts McCloskey had sustained were too much for him to continue.
Judah, a former welterweight champion, appears comfortable at 140 pounds. This will be his third straight fight at that weight, and despite being knocked down in both of his junior welterweight fights, he managed to win.
Contact reporter Steve Carp at email@example.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.