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Is Khan tough enough to beat Maidana?

Amir Khan Marcos Rene MaidanaBy William Mackay: World Boxing Association light welterweight champion Amir Khan (22-1, 16 KO’s) has a tentative agreement to face WBA light welterweight interim champion Marcos Maidana (27-1, 26 KO’s) on April 17th at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, in Las Vegas, Nevada. It’s looking like the 23-year-old Khan will choose to face Maidana rather than vacate his title or try to pay Maidana a step aside fee so that Khan can get another fight in between.

This fight has great important for Khan, because it will be his first fight in the United States and he needs to look good against a quality opponent to make a name for himself. Maidana is definitely a quality fighter, but he’s also a dangerous one because of his power and his tendency to turn his fights into brawls. His opponents may come into his their fights with Maidana thinking they’re going to box with him and stay on the outside, but that’s easier said than done.

Maidana is quick to cut off the ring on his opposition and often crowds them, not giving them any room to fight on the outside. This could be bad news for Khan, because his new style of fighting taught to him by trainer Freddie Roach is based on movement and jabs. For Khan to protect his sometimes fragile chin, he will have to try and keep Maidana on the outside somehow.

In looking at Maidana’s last six fights, it doesn’t seem likely that Khan will be able to accomplish that no matter how much he tries to move. Maidana is just very good at cutting off the ring and forcing his opponents to fight his style of fighting at close range. Maidana is a lot like Ricky Hatton in the way that he is good at cutting off runners and making them fight.

If Khan isn’t able to keep Maidana safely on the outside, this could be a disaster for Khan. Maidana has short arms and is able to get a lot of power on his shots in close range. Khan will be at a clear disadvantage if Maidana is able to smother Khan and keep the fight in close. Additionally, Maidana’s fights are often grueling affairs with him taking heavy shots and then firing back with even harder shots.

Only one of his opponents, Andriy Kotelnik, was able to beat him, and Kotelnik did it by covering up and jabbing most of the fight. As it was, Kotelnik took a lot of punishment in the fight and looked like he had lost the fight at the end with his bloody and battered face. If Kotelnik, who has a heck of a chin, took this kind of punishment in winning a controversial 12 round decision, is Khan tough enough to take similar punishment and still remain standing at the end? That’s the question.

Khan won’t be able to run enough to keep Maidana off him for long, so he’s going to have to be able to stand up to Maidana at some point in the fight. Very likely, unless Khan can take Maidana’s big shots, he’s going to lose the fight and suffer another knockout like the one he did against Breidis Prescott in September 2008. Maidana can’t be beaten cheaply by moving.

Maidana is too good at cutting off the ring and forcing his opponents to fight. Khan needs to think hard before taking this fight. If he doesn’t think he’s ready to survive a tough war with Maidana, he would be better of vacating and avoiding what could be another embarrassing loss. There’s no shame in vacating a title. It might be the safer thing for Khan to do in this case.

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