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Amir Khan’s ‘Shock’ defeat is reflective of the state of boxing

Amir KhanBy Kwame Cinquez: Amir Khan’s brutal knock-out at the hands of the limited Danny Garcia only came as a shock to those who have a limited knowledge of the sport. It has been coming. Having watched Amir from the Olympics, I have never been impressed with his boxing ability.

Khan’s ring intelligence is poor, his power somewhat overstated, and his suspect chin is now an open secret. To compound this, Khan has had difficulty against limited opponents such as Paul McCloskey and Willie Limond, and losses to non elite fighters such as Breidis Prescott and Lamont Peterson more recently only highlight the problems he has against what what most would consider to not even be gatekeeper standard in the divisions. Whilst his two most recent opponents are not low grade opponents, they were both match-ups that Amir had been expected to win comfortably.

Khan has now attempted to blame Roach for his most recent loss, citing his lack of time with Khan and there has also been suggestions that Roach concentrates too heavily on favored fighter Manny Pacquiao. If Roach is to be dismissed, it would represent a cyclical nature for Khan and an inability to take responsibility for his failings. The sacking of Jorge Rubio, a highly regarded former trainer of the Cuban national boxing team, was an excuse provided to remove Khan’s own failings in the ring against Prescott. The reality Khan has to face is that he simply lacks the ability of an elite fighter to not only follow the instructions of his coach in the ring and also to react to the ring accordingly to a challenge presented. The nature of his knock-out defeats, against fighters not previously recognized for their devastating power, also means that other future opponents will simply not fear facing him, and will rightfully fancy their chances against him.

The knock-out losses to Prescott and Garcia are also matched in the
nature of the favourable refereeing decisions Khan has also faced in
his career. In both fights, the initial knock-down should have been
sufficient to stop the fight. Yet the referee on both occasions gave
him as many opportunities as possible before stopping the fights. This is reflective of the corrupt, unfair relationship between boxing promoters, organizational bodies and in some cases referees. It is quite hard to imagine that Garcia or Khan would’ve been given the same opportunities to recover had the scenarios been in reverse.

Khan at 25 has received brutal KO defeats that for the most part
boxers simply do not recover from. Most boxing fans can remember the
transformation of John Ruiz after the David Tua fight. He was 24 at
this time and it proved pivotal in a negative shift in the fighter, as it led to a re-orientation towards a less aggressive style and
aesthetically less appealing to many boxing fans. The difference
however is that Tua had phenomenal Knockout power. Psychologically for Amir however, the losses he has suffered must have an effect, as he must also be aware that he simply lacks the ability to trade with the elite fighters, as he is losing quite badly to fighters quite below that position.

However, despite all of the above, it is not at Khan that the majority of my ire is reserved for. Khan is a mere pawn in the system. The manipulative elements that control boxing ultimately are only concerned about the marketability of fighters, and not necessarily their ability. Golden Boy are aware than Amir Khan can command a significant pay-per-view or fight attendance, and that in itself is the sole reason for their support of him. It is for this reason that Khan will again be placed quickly back up in the divisional rankings, and will have supportive referees and “Soft” opponents. He is not alone in this. Many fighters have had similar preferential treatment.

Britain, and England in particular has a particularly bad habit of
doing this with many its fighters. The latest protégé of the English
hype machine appears to be Kell Brook, who despite appearing to have
all the failings of Khan but perhaps with a slightly better chin, is
also being lauded as a ‘Potentially world class’ fighter. The reality is quite the opposite, but as long as there is no adherence to the structural and organizational rules in boxing in regards to
eligibility for title fights, or mandatory opponents, these
opportunities for a select few will continue to be to not only the
detriment of the fighter but the egalitarian nature of boxing itself.

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