By B.G.B: Paulie Malignaggi, Marcos Maidana, Zab Judah, Lamont Peterson, Danny Garcia; these five fighters are without question the best opposition that Amir Khan has faced in his career. All five have been (or still are) world champions and are indeed world-class fighters. Khan’s record against these five is 3 wins and 2 losses. He stopped both Malignaggi and Judah and edged out Maidana in a fierce and memorable encounter. He narrowly lost to Peterson in a bout that could have gone either way regardless of the controversies surrounding the aftermath. He was however brutally battered by Garcia and eventually stopped in the 4th round in a fight that shocked the boxing world to an extent.
Since the stoppage Khan is back to winning ways with 3 straight victories against lesser opposition in Carlos Molina, Julio Diaz and Luis Collazo. However, Khan was less than impressive against Molina and even more so against Diaz. Diaz impressed by flooring Khan and hurting him several times but despite that Khan managed to get through the fight with a win. His performance against Collazo greatly improved completely out classing a seasoned veteran who was coming off a knockout victory against Victor Ortiz. Many fans felt that Collazo had a genuine chance in beating Khan(myself included) yet the outcome couldn’t have been more different. Yes, it was the best Khan has looked since he teamed with Virgil Hunter but a win against Collazo is simple not good enough for Floyd Mayweather and so it shouldn’t be. So, Khan now faces a new challenge in Devon Alexander and let me be the one to tell you that, including the 5 world-class fighters mentioned above, Devon Alexander is the best fighter Amir Khan has ever faced.
Devon Alexander is a 2 weight world champion that has faced a number of genuine world-class fighters. He has been at world level for a sustained period of time. He has tremendous boxing skills, natural speed, good footwork, balance and technical ability. He dominated Marcos Maidana and barely broke a sweat in doing so. He defeated Lucas Matthysse in a competitive fight but his boxing skills saw him through to victory. His only 2 losses came against Timothy Bradley and the recently dethroned Shawn Porter. Both Bradley and Porter used roughhouse tactics and bullied Alexander into submission. They smothered Alexander to dismantle his boxing ability and essentially stop Alexander from doing what he does best… box. So, the blueprint to defeat Alexander is there ready to be exploited. Get your head on his chest and rough him up. However assessing Maidana and Matthysse’s attempts it’s clearly no easy feat. Timothy Bradley is a world-class boxer and has only been out classed by the second best fighter on the planet in Manny Pacquiao. Shawn Porter’s physical attributes and style is ideal for a fighter like Alexander. His work is messy and suffocates opponents with a constant barrage of shots that come from all kinds of angles. If you’re an inside fighter and you give Alexander time you’re getting a boxing lesson.
Amir Khan is arguably one of if not the fastest fighter in the world pound for pound. He posses lightning hand speed combined with a fierce work rate that allows him to throw 5, 6, 7 or even 8 punch combinations. His hand speed has seen him shred opponents to pieces as well as completely blinding them in the process. His style has (at first at least) confused and intimidated fighters and gives them little time to counter act it. So much so that many fans are crying out for him to face Floyd Mayweather, the best counter puncher on the planet (perhaps ever). His speed is unquestionable and difficult for anyone to overcome, yet it has indeed been overcome. For all its excitement, Khan’s technique isn’t without faults. One thing Khan is not is ‘in & out’. Too often Khan has been guilty of staying in for too long, over committing with his hands down. His suspect chin has failed him on many occasions, but it goes without saying that the best chin is the one that does not get hit. Garcia caught Khan with a left hook without even looking. Diaz landed his left hook and put him down. When Khan attacks he is so vulnerable to the left hook it’s no wonder he’s been stopped twice and put down more times than I can count. If one can suck up the punishment Khan dishes out and throws at the same time even without looking they have a chance to not only win, but to win by KO. Slower punchers than Alexander have caught and hurt Khan in the past and there isn’t a doubt in my mind that Alexander can do the same. He has a snap to his shots and a trademark uppercut that will trouble Khanif he stays in for too long.
In his previous fights Khan has always been regarded as the favourite even in the fights he lost. If Kahn’s defence is solid than it’s almost impossible to beat him but his defence isn’t solid. It’s never been solid in fact. It’s what makes Khan a big hit. His blistering attack and his defensive frailties make him exciting. Yet time and time again pundits, experts and fans continue to ignore Khan’s faults and immediately place him as the favourite. Khan himself constantly assumes the favourite role so much so that he consistently overlooks all the opponents he faces and has never learnt his lesson. I have been guilty of assuming a Khan victory (something that I will not be doing this time around) too often. This fight is different. There is no favourite here. This is a genuine 50/50 fight and Khan’s most tricky and skilful opponent he has ever faced.
Assessing the outcome can only be derived from assumptions. My assumption is that Khan will not fight like Bradley or Porter. He doesn’t fight like that. Yes he smothers opponents with blistering hand speed but he lacks a physical presence of both Bradley and Porter. If Khanfights the way he always does regardless of what he has done with Hunter then Alexander will have openings. I take the assumption based on his previous fights that Alexander will take advantage of those openings. I believe that Alexander is the more skilful but Khan has the edge in speed. Alexander is no slouch himself but Khan is faster. This is a great fight and a very difficult one to predict but if Khan dares to overlook Alexander then this one is over. Alexander has just as much to gain as Khan does. Both are at a pivotal stage of the careers and this fight means everything. Again, based on previous actions, I assume Khan will overlook Alexander and it won’t be long before we start hearing Mayweather’s name being mentioned in the build up. Because of this, I lean towards Alexander.
Regardless of the result one thing is guaranteed. This is Amir Khan’s toughest opponent of his career.