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Khan vs. Kotelnik: Why Is Amir Taking the Easy Path?

Amir Khan Andriy KotelnikBy Scott Gilfoid: It seems as if lightweight Amir Khan (20-1, 15 KOs) has done it again by choosing World Boxing Association light welterweight champion Andriy Kotelnik (31-2-1, 13 KOs) to go after next instead of the much tougher prospects of facing fighters like Ali Funeka, Edwin Valero, Juan Manuel Marquez, Breidis Prescott, Juan Diaz, Paulus Moses, or Michael Katsidis.

I don’t begrudge a fighter for taking the easy way out, but I surely expected a lot more from Khan, 22, after taking on the over-the-hill Marco Antonio Barrera in his last fight in March and winning the bout under less than favorable circumstances when Barrera received an early cut on his forehead that caused the fight to be eventually stopped in the 5th.

That fight was hardly impressive one for Khan, who was shook up by a big left hand from Barrera in the 2nd round. That fight obviously needed a rematch, but short of that, Khan should have at least stepped it up against someone like Prescott and tried to clear his earlier 1st round TKO loss to him in 2008.

In choosing Kotelnik, who Khan recently picked as the worst of the current champions, it makes it seem as if he’s cherry picking for the easiest of opponents. For sure, Kotelnik in my view shouldn’t even be the WBA lightweight champion after his last fight against Argentinean knockout puncher Marcos Rene Maidana (25-1, 24 KOs), a fight which Kotelnik won by a controversial 12-round split decision in his adopted country of Germany. I had Maidana winning the fight by three rounds, and I couldn’t see how on earth Kotelnik was given the decision.

Khan is going to do what he has to do in order to pick up a title without getting knocked into the next stratosphere, but I just wish he wouldn’t be so obvious about his avoidance of much more credible threats to him like the top lightweights in the division. If Khan thinks he’s getting away with something by moving up to light welterweight, he’s kidding himself.

He may be able to beat Kotelnik, but I can’t see Khan holding onto the title for more than a couple of fights if that. He’ll take a non-mandatory against the easiest opponent he can get, and then when he’s forced to fight someone like Maidana, Victor Ortiz or Nate Campbell, he’ll simply be knocked out again. However, Khan does have a slight advantage in that Dimitri Salita is currently ranked number #1 in the WBA, which will give Khan an easy defense at some point in time.

Salita has faced absolutely no one of note and I don’t see him as someone that should even be in the top 15, much less the number #1 spot. In facing Salita and a bottom #15 guy like Norio Kimura, Khan will get at least a couple of defenses of his title before being knocked out by either Maidana or Campbell.

Kotelnik, 31, may be the weakest of the light welterweight champions, but he’s probably still good enough to create some problems for Khan. Kotelnik, a Silver Medal winner from the 2000 Olympics, can take a heck of shot judging by his fight with Maidana, so I can’t see Khan knocking him out. Kotelnik doesn’t hit hard, though, and mostly uses his jab as his primary weapon.

His defense is so-so, and seems to get hit a lot. He tries to stay on the outside where he shoots his excellent jab frequently. His hand speed is average, and he’ll have problems with Khan’s speed. However, because of his lack of power, he’ll be no threat to dent the weak chin of Khan.

In the end, Khan will win and get his 15 minutes of fame. Like I said, Khan won’t hold onto the title for long because of the better fighters that he’d eventually be forced to fight. However, he should make a lot of money in two defenses before getting knocked out by someone like Campbell or Maidana, so that’s not all bad. And, believe me, Khan will be knocked out by them, you can bet on that.

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