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Khan-Kotelnik: What Does Amir’s Choice of Opponent Say About Him?

Amir KhanBy Chris Williams: I’m finding it hard to see Amir Khan’s (20-1, 15 KOs) choice of WBA light welterweight champion Andriy Kotelnik (31-2-1, 13 KOs) as his next opponent in a favorable light. Oh, yeah, the name of the game is getting a title shot above all, but when you do it by jumping out of your own division (lightweight) to find easier pickings elsewhere, it seems as if you’re trying to pull one over on the boxing public.

Kotelnik, 31, is a fine fighter, a 2000 Olympic Silver Medal winner in the lightweight division, and has defended his WBA light welterweight title twice in the pros after winning the crown in a 12th round stoppage victory over Gavin Rees in March 2008.

The irritating thing about Khan’s choice of Kotelnik as an opponent is that in selecting him, Khan has sifted through a minefield of more dangerous fighters, starting with his own lightweight division with fighters like Edwin Valero, Joel Casamayor and Breidis Prescott.

Khan recently said “I just love proving people wrong,” referring to his tainted victory over a cut up, shop worn Marco Antonio Barrera, who Khan defeated by a 5th round technical decision last month. Khan feels that the victory, despite being a less than satisfactory one in the minds of many boxing fans, somehow proved his critics wrong. How it did just that, I have no idea.

But if it did, selecting another fighter perceived to be weak in the opinions of lots of fans of the sport, seems to be more fuel for the fire in the perception that Khan hand picks his opponents in order to avoid threatening tests.

It’s not that big of a deal, I suppose, because David Haye obviously selected the easier option in his choice of Monte Barrett as an opponent, and Joe Calzaghe did it quite a few times in his career, most notably in his choice of the 39-year-old Roy Jones Jr. as his last fight of his career rather than a more dangerous and deserving opponent like Chad Dawson.

However, Khan couldn’t have picked a worse opponent if he tried as far as I’m concerned. If his idea was to turn off boxing fans, then Khan picked the perfect opponent in choosing Kotelnik rather than Prescott or Valero. When Khan got his blocked knocked off by Prescott, he spoke of wanting to get a rematch with the Colombian fighter, saying that he wouldn’t make the same mistake twice.

I figured when Khan said that, he was just blowing smoke and flapping his gums for the boxing press. I hoped that I would be wrong, but with this latest news about Khan going the soft route against Kotelnik, I’ve my eyes opened to the real truth.

It’s too bad because Khan’s selection of Kotelnik will be like bug repellent for many knowledgeable boxing fans. Of course, the unknowing boxing public will care less and will want to see Khan fight no matter who he gets in the ring with. In that case, Kotelnik is the ideal opponent for Khan.

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