By William Mackay: WBA light welterweight champion Amir Khan makes his first defense of his title on December 5th at the Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle, Tyne and Wear, against number challenger Dmitry Salita (30-0-1, 16 KO’s. This is a fight that few boxing fans are giving Salita much if any chance at winning.
The reason is because Khan, 22, has everything going for him in this fight. Khan has perhaps the best trainer in boxing with Freddie Roach, the better hand speed, the Olympic credentials (Khan won a Silver Medal for Britain in the 2004 Olympic Games) and will be fighting in front of a large home crowd in England.
Salita has a few things going for him in this fight, specifically his slightly better power and better chin. Khan has a reputation for having a shaky chin because of knockdowns against a handful of opponents during his four year pro career. It didn’t help Khan’s case any that he was blown out of the water in a 1st round knockout defeat by Breidis Prescott last year.
Khan has made great efforts to explain away the defeat, saying that he made a mistake in the fight and that was why he was brutally taken out by Prescott. Let’s hope so for Khan’s sake what he says is true, because if Salita is able to connect with one of his big shots, we might be seeing Khan going down once again and tasting the canvas.
Khan is looking to use this fight as a springboard for high visibility fights in the United States against better known opponents. Khan would do himself a big favor is he immediately turned around and fought the interim WBA light welterweight champion Marcos Maidana rather than messing around and fighting another no named fighter. Khan should also consider giving a rematch with Prescott to show that the loss to him was truly a fluke like he says. Khan would go a long way towards shutting down his critics if he were to fight Prescott as soon as possible and beat him without getting knocked out or knocked down again.
Salita might not be an easy mark for Khan. Salita may not have a lot of hand speed, but what he does have is a nice left hook and right hand. Salita just needs to ensure that he can cut off the ring against Khan, because Amir will surely be moving a lot like he did in his latest win over Andriy Kotelnik. Khan still took a lot of shots in that fight, but he ran enough so that Kotelnik wasn’t able to beat him up and get to his tender chin.
Salita doesn’t look particularly quick on his feet, but it might not matter if he can predict where Khan will run to next and intercept him. Khan was staggered by an old Marco Antonio Barrera in the 2nd round of their fight last year. Salita just needs to stay patient, try to cut off the ring and make the most of his opportunities by hitting Khan as hard as he can every time he hits him. Khan’s chin may betray him again if Salita can hit him just right.
For Khan, he needs to stay on the move constantly, use his fast jab to keep Salita at a distance. Khan should avoid throwing more than two punches at a time because if he gets caught up trying to throw flurries, he’ll leave himself open for Salita’s right hand shots.
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