(Photo credit: Naoki Fakuda) By Ryan Allan: Amir Khan returned to the ring this past Friday with a less than sparkling display in his unanimous points victory over the American, Chris Algieri at the Barclays centre, New York.
I tipped Khan to win on points in my submission last week but the manner of his victory has failed to inspire much credit or respect for the Bolton man.
Khan, who is still trying to earn a fight with Floyd Mayweather, had been ridiculed for his choice of opponent in Algieri and he did little in the fight to turn these sneers to cheers as he fought to a somewhat unconvincing decision win over the game New Yorker who looked pretty huge at the weight and fought an aggressive and educated fight despite his defeat.
The American deserves a lot of praise for performing above his expected level but as ever there is not much sign of praise for Algieri even if Khan did under-perform.Khan though will be disappointed with this performance on Friday: Here he was in a fight that he really needed to look good in, considering the lack of perceived threat in Algieri, but his speed and power were lacking, and once again there are more questions than answers for Amir who many feel is simply not doing enough to warrant the fight with Mayweather he so desperately craves.
There are definite validities to those criticisms for Khan but his overall lack of popularity, especially in his home country, is at times utterly befuddling.
The “glass jaw” accusations will never disappear, even if one day his jaw is broken and pure lead seeps from his very own skin; Even then those insults will never disappear for Khan, despite winning a world title and beating some very good opponents over his 10 years in the sport so far.
His ability to take punishment from Marcos Maidana in 2010 and stay on his feet is rarely mentioned by those arm chair fans so quick to rubbish his claims for a shot at Floyd but when you look at Amir’s resume, it certainly holds comparison to anyone else in the division not named Floyd or Manny. Khan’s last 10 fights have seen him in with Algieri, Alexander, Collazo, Diaz, Molina, Garcia, Peterson, Judah, McCloskey, Maidana and Malignaggi which is a pretty good list of opponents (and with only 1 legitimate defeat) and certainly is a far more impressive than the likes of Kell Brook or Keith Thurman have managed in their career’s so far.
Khan has plenty of talent and plenty of heart too, as evidenced in that fight with Maidana when he took a tremendous amount of punishment and still made it to the end of a terrible round, on his feet.
Yes there are better fighters for Khan to be fighting than Chris Algieri but the reality is that Khan had to get over a hard defeat to Danny Garcia while getting used to a new weight class and a certain amount of time was always going to be needed for Khan to make the necessary adjustments to both his physique and in his ability to defend the kind of counter shots that have caused the damage in his career to this point.
The Bolton man has his critics and plenty of them, but when you consider that this is a boy who won silver at the Olympics at the tender age of 17, followed it up by winning a world title at 22 having left his homeland to fight Stateside all while representing and winning for his country should be lauded, but we don’t we like these kind of achievers in the UK.
Khan is rarely involved in a dull fight and generally provides tremendous entertainment value due to both his skills and his fragilities as a fighter, and being British, he is the kind of sportsman our public should be pulling behind. The young Brit, fighting abroad, winning titles and losing them, getting off the deck and coming back for more, calling out the champ and doing his best to stay respectful. But sure, this is the kind of man we should be mocking and ridiculing…
People talk about arrogance or Khan speaking in the 3rd person, but I don’t remember Ricky Hatton catching much heat for that misdemeanour nor do I remember too many American fighters that were particularly humble. Ali, Jones, Toney, even the never was beens like Kevin Johnson talk as though they were the reincarnation of Sugar Ray Robinson. A certain level of arrogance is absolutely necessary in any level of sport, particularly at the top end and especially in this sport but for Khan, apparently the same rules don’t apply.
Sadly, for whatever reason, popularity is not a game Khan can win. It just doesn’t happen for Amir. He’ll never be Ricky Hatton. But if he does ever get his fight with Floyd, I’m quite sure we won’t ever see him running face first into the ring post following a check hook as our Ricky managed to achieve when he fought the money man. Of course Ricky’s penchant for a pint and a night out with the boys made his failures much more acceptable but for Amir, ridicule and criticism are pretty much the staples of Khan’s fighting life. You do wonder whether Khan’s origins are the real reason for a lack of respect or popularity in his home country or indeed in the US.
Does he deserve to fight Floyd, based on his last fight? Or even on his resume? Perhaps not, but we can look at Marcos Maidana who got 2 fights with Floyd despite 3 previous losses, including to our very own Khan, and “earned” his shot by beating up an overblown light-weight in Adrian Broner. Did he deserve it? I don’t think so. Or how about Victor Ortiz? He had been KO’d by Maidana, drew with Lamont Peterson and then scored his big win over that living legend that is Andre Berto to earn his shot with the Money man. Justified? Come off it.
Amir needs to do more to shut up his critics, of that there is no doubt, and if he wants to be remembered as a truly great British fighter then he will of course need to step up the opposition but it’s about time that his home country and their sports fans start to acknowledge his lengthy list of achievements and give the man the kind of support and encouragement that he truly deserves.