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Khan vs. Gomez On Saturday Night

Amir KhanBy Tony Krebs: Undefeated lightweight contender Amir Khan (17-0, 13 KOs) defends his Commonwealth (British Empire) lightweight title on Saturday night against Michael Gomez (35-8, 24 KOs) in a scheduled 12-round bout at the National Indoor Arena, in Birmingham, West Midlands. Khan, 21, is hoping to get by Gomez, who comes into the fight clearly way over-matched, and then possibly line up a fight with the winner of Manny Pacquiao vs. David Diaz for the WBC lightweight title next week. Khan is also interested in a possible – though much less so – fight with Nate Campbell for the WBO lightweight title.

However, first things first, Khan must defeat Gomez, a former WBU super featherweight and BBBofC British super featherweight champion, tomorrow night. Despite his status of a former champion, not many boxing experts give Gomez much of a chance against Khan tomorrow night, mainly because Gomez’s prime – 6 to 8 years ago – appears in the rear view mirror and he’s lost three out of his last six recent fights, with all three coming by knockout.

That’s not a good sign for someone about to go up against one of the fastest punchers in the division. Gomez, 30, still have good power, enough possibly to knock Khan out if he can get in a lucky punch. However, Gomez doesn’t have really the kind of one-punch power needed to stop a fighter of Khan’s class. Indeed, Gomez generally gets his knockouts over the course of his fights, usually by standing at close quarters and pounding away on the inside with heavy shots.

His style of fighting is not unlike Ricky Hatton, although much slower and with far less power. I guess you could refer to Gomez as somewhat of a plodder, a fighter that moves slowly, methodically shooting a short jab, hard hooks and lots of uppercuts on the inside. His hand speed is very poor, much worse than Khan’s recent opponents Martin Kristjansen, Gairy St. Clair and Graham Earl, all of which I consider to be a level above Gomez at this point in his career. Gomez’s defense is pretty much nonexistent. He’s especially susceptible to right hands, which appears to have no defense against.

Though he likes to bob & weave a lot with his uppercut body, he moves like a slower version of Rocky Balboa and is fairly easy to time with any kind of shot. Even in his prime, say eight years ago, I think he would have been mowed down in two or three rounds by Khan. As of now, however, I don’t personally see Gomez getting beyond the 1st round against Khan.

He’s just not the type of fighter, with his lack of speed, movement and big power, to give Khan much trouble at all even under the best circumstances for Gomez. I think this is a bad move for Khan, as he’s had it pretty easy since turning professional in 2005, fighting almost entirely soft British-type fighters that don’t compare with the top fighters elsewhere in the world.

I don’t mean to say that there are no good British fighters, but rather the fighters that Khan has been feasting on have been much lesser quality fighters than he should have been facing. I would have no problem with Khan going from a fight like this to someone in the bottom 15 of the lightweight division, someone like Jesus Chavez or Raymundo Beltran, but to go from a fight against the likes of Gomez into a fight with Pacquiao, Diaz or Campbell, seems like a recipe for failure. Khan has shown to have somewhat of a shaky chin in some of his earlier fights, but he’s been able to hide it well by destroying most of his soft opposition.

What will happen if he faces someone like Campbell, who won’t be destroyed in the first few rounds like most of Khan’s other opponents, and who will be landing hard shots for the full 12-rounds? I don’t think this is a bout that Khan could win by running, because Campbell is incredibly good at cutting off the ring. This would mean that if Khan has any chance of winning, he’d have to do it by grinding it out in a give and take battle. I don’t see it happening. Maybe if Khan had a lot of experience against top notch opposition, he might be able to beat one of them, but he doesn’t.

I doubt seriously that Campbell is even being considered as an opponent for Khan, because his management has to see what I see in Campbell – a tough fighter with an excellent chin and an even better work rate. He’s simply better than Khan right now, far better in my estimation. I don’t see Khan being able to deal with Pacquiao either.

He might be able to give him problems for a certain amount of time, but in order for him to beat Pacquiao, Khan will have to be able to take a lot of hard shots to the head. That’s the problem, I don’t think he can, not against a hard thrower like Pacquiao. For that reason, I don’t see good things happening for Khan once he gets beyond tomorrow night’s soft opponent.

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