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Khan’s Victory Over Kotelnik Proves Little

By Scott Gilfoid: While it’s nice that Amir Khan’s chin was able to hold together long enough for him to beat World Boxing Association light welterweight champion Andriy Kotelnik last weekend by a 12-round decision, let’s not get things twisted and make more out of what Khan accomplished that what he did. This was, after all, a handpicked opponent that Khan went after and not a dangerous puncher.

In his words, “The weakest” of the light welterweight champions, something that Khan had said himself not long ago. In my estimation, Kotelnik was far from the ability of better fighters in the light welterweight division like Timothy Bradley, Kendall Holt, Marcos Maidana, Junior Witter, Victor Ortiz, Nate Campbell and Randall Bailey, to name just a small number of fighters.

I would have named Ricky Hatton to this list, but his chin doesn’t appear to be what it used to, and he’d probably end up getting knocked out if he were to take on Khan at this point. Kotelnik may have been a champion in title, but the wins on his resume came against weaker opponents than the types of fighters that I mentioned above.

I realize that Kotelnik has a disputed win over Maidana. However, the victory occurred in Germany and it was very controversial. I had Maidana winning by a minimum of three rounds. Now, if Khan had beaten any one of this bunch on Saturday night while capturing a title, I could respect that and would give him a lot of credit for the victory. But, Khan didn’t and instead went after Kotelnik for some reason.

It is what it is. Khan was positioned to go after Kotelnik simply because he was perceived as an easy mark. If they really wanted to prove something, then Bradley would have been the guy. But that would have been an almost certain loss for Khan. Heck, even the limited Juan Urango would probably be too dangerous for Khan to get by. At least Urango can punch a little but, even if his boxing skills are less than stellar.

Now that Khan has captured the WBA title, he’s going to have to defend it. I don’t claim to be any kind of fortune teller, but I see Khan trying to defend it exactly two times in a fight against Dimitri Salita, the beatable number #1 challenger to the WBA title, and likely against a fighter ranked in the bottom #15 in the WBA. In other words, a weak puncher and not someone well known.

Once the time comes for Khan to have to defend his title against Maidana, look for Khan to vacate the title or offer him a step aside fee, so that Khan can squeeze in another fight against a handpicked opponent. If Maidana rejects the step aside offer or once it’s his time for a fight against Khan, look for Amir to vacate the title and either move down in weight or look for an easier fight against another weak light welterweight champion.

So I’m really happy that Khan got the win on Saturday night over Kotelnik, but let’s not kid ourselves about what Khan really accomplished out there. He beat a decent fighter with almost zero power. It was a fighter that was made to order for Khan and not a dangerous puncher like Breidis Prescott or Maidana.

I know Prescott was defeated the other night by Miguel Vazquez, but I still think Prescott walks through Khan like sliced bread if there were a rematch today. Khan says he’s got great confidence from beating Kotelnik, just as Amir did after beating another handpicked opponent in Marco Antonio Barrera in a fight before the Kotelnik fight.

But I can’t help but notice a trend in the opponents for Khan. Either they’re weak and flawed or in the case of Barrera, old and over the hill. Beating Kotelnik proved nothing to me other than the fact that Khan can beat a weak puncher who had struggled in fights against Souleymane M’baye, Junior Witter and Maidana in the past few years.

If Khan wants to prove something, then let him go ahead and give Prescott a rematch and then immediately take on Maidana afterwards. If Khan can get through these two fighters in one piece, which I highly doubt, then by all means go ahead shower Khan with accolades for being a good fighter. But until then, I see the victory over Kotelnik as a hallow one in which Khan beat a weak puncher who might not have been able to beat Maidana if the fight were held in a neutral country instead of Germany.

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