Amir Khan- An Objective Analysis
By Colm Hutchinson: Few boxers lately have attracted both praise and hate in such equal measures lately as Amir Khan. His proponents see him as a lightning fast volume puncher who goes after his opponents and with an all-out whirlwind style set up by a laser like jab.
His trainer thinks he will be in the pound for pound elite with a year or two and this sentiment is echoed by many of his fans.
Yet behind the potential of this young man from Bolton, England lies a litany of fans who feel he is Amir Con, someone who was blown away by Breidis Prescott and has since been matched against soft opposition, in order to protect his fragile jaw and the cash cow status that GBP have clearly reaped from his crossover appeal in both the US and the UK.
This writer is personally a fan of Amir Khan, and feels that there are great things to come from him in the future. While I agree with some of the sentiments of his detractors, there is far too much subjective bile and downright prejudice against him that is not borne out of objective analysis, but rather more sinister motivations concerning his race, nationality and his closeness to the Manny Pacquiao camp. What I mean by the latter is that we are a well aware of the Pactards vs Flomos debate raging across the boxing world and Khan is not liked by any of Floyd’s fans simply because of his association in training to the Pacman camp.
I’d like to take a look at the Pros and Cons of Khan to make an objective and informed analysis of his progress and potential.
Since his loss to Prescott he has buckled down and rebuilt his style and his career under Roach’s guidance. One has to commend him for that as many fighters would never come back from such a bad KO. He left his home and went to unfamiliar surroundings in LA, devoting himself to improving and learning from his mistakes. The wild young attacker with no defense has now been replaced by a smarter defensive fighter who works behind his movement and excellent jab to set up quick attacks using his almost unparalleled speed. He still has some holes in his defense, namely leaving himself open to counters from lunging in along with a susceptibility to uppercuts when fighting on the inside, yet all things considered his defense is getting better with each fight.
Khan fought Marco Maidana, a known KO artist. The man who made Ortiz (a fighter that was deemed good enough for Floyd) quit in the middle of the ring was a dangerous opponent. Yes, I admit that Maidana is a crude slugger who probably should have been taken out after the tremendous body shot in the first. Yet, the resulting fight of the year showed a new element to Khan’s arsenal; the ability to stand up when the pressure was really on. He weathered the storm on wobbly legs and due to his new found heart and conditioning he pulled through and I feel that he came out of this fight with many more positives than negatives. While many point to Cortez’s leniency in not stopping the fight in the 10th round, which to an extent I agree with, I still couldn’t help admire how Khan battled through arguably his toughest 3 minutes to date and persevered to win.
While many argue that Khan is afraid to rematch Prescott, I feel that there are no real monetary or career benefits to this match up. If Prescott had continued to win after their match I would be the first to demand the fight, but unfortunately he has fallen down the list of top 140 contenders by his own inability to win. Timothy Bradley is the other 140 pound King yet he refused point bank to face Khan and settle the argument despite calling the kid out on live TV only a few months before. Some say that Khan is arrogant to think he can dare match Pretty Boy Floyd in the squared circle, and maybe they are correct, but to me it shows that this fighter has balls and isn’t afraid to test himself against the best. He has called out Bradley, he has called out Floyd. Isn’t this what we want from our fighters?
I don’t think the Salita fight was ever a real matchup, rather a nice pad for the CV against a contender, but one who had yet to face any real opposition. Yet this match, along with the Barrera and Kotelnik fights were not long after his loss to Prescott and so should be viewed in the context of a fighter rebuilding his career. The McCloskey bout unfortunately was not a particularly smart move in that there were better match ups for him to take. He lowballed Lamont Peterson in previous negotiations thus removing that option which would have appealed more his critics. Khan didn’t look great against McCloskey, a slippery if limited fighter, but he took care of business and was easily winning before the unwarranted stoppage by the ringside doctor in the 6th.
This is the most often used criticism against Khan after he was nearly knocked unconscious by Prescott. Since then, excluding the Maidana fight, he has been matched against opponents not known for their power. Barrera was moving up in weight, Salita and Kotenik are not big punchers. One can say the same about Malignaggi and McCloskey. He has been stunned a few times by various opponents and was almost out on his feet against Maidana. However, since the Prescott KO, Khan hasn’t tasted the canvass once. Therefore while he hasn’t the strongest chin in the division, I think “glass” is a little over the top.
While speed is his greatest asset, he still lacks that one punch KO power. His volume punching wins rounds certainly, but it has yet to be used to devastating effect. Maidana was ready to be taken down after the first round but Khan sat back (perhaps wary of his one punch power) and let him back into the fight. His power is improving but he still has a lot that he needs to work on to be able to finish opponents in a manner that would appeal to all boxing fans
Many people dislike Khan for various reasons. He’s British and he’s Muslim which can lead to dislike immediately. He’s close to Manny Pacquiao and is trained by Freddie Roach. Others don’t like his arrogance, or his claims to be close to being a top P4P fighter based on the opponents he has faced thus far. Yet strip away all that largely useless information in the context of judging him purely as a boxer in those 36 minutes in the ring and I see a different picture.
I see a young, hungry and exciting fighter who seems to improve every time he boxes, who is beating all the fighters put in front of him, sometimes through style and speed, other times through grit and determination. I see a fighter who is progressing rapidly in both offense and defense. He is a fighter who wants to face the best in his division, and in the future, at the higher weights. I for one don’t see him ready to take on the likes of Mayweather just yet, but in a year’s time I believe he will be challenging for big titles at 147lbs. He is not by any means the whole package, but he is getting there fight by fight.
I welcome your feedback on this article. Please keep it objective J