By Jim Dower: Amir Khan says he was surprised that referee Terry O’Connor didn’t step in and stop his fight with Samuel Vargas after he knocked him down and had him hurt on Saturday night in their bout at the Arena Birmingham in Birmingham, UK.
Khan said after the fight that he had intentionally allowed Vargas to survive when he had him hurt. Vargas had Khan hurt, and it looked like he was fighting for survival after round 7. Khan faded badly in the second half of the fight and he was unable to muster he energy and power on his shots to hurt Vargas.
Khan had Vargas (29-4-2, 14 KOs) down in rounds 2 and 3. Vargas didn’t look hurt in either of those rounds, but he took a lot of shots in round 5 and appeared close to being halted. Vargas was able to weather the storm to make it out of the round, thanks to his toughness and a little patience from referee O’Connor. Some referees would have stepped in and halted the fight, but O’Connor let the fight play out in the 5th and Vargas was able to make it through that rough patch.
Khan emerged as victorious in winning the bout with the scores 119-109, 118-110 and 119-108. Khan hit the deck in the 2nd round after getting caught with a big shot while trying to score a knockout after he’s dropped Vargas earlier in the round.
“I’m happy with my performance,” Khan said to IFL TV about his performance. “My fitness is good. I got caught with a shot, a flash knockdown. I just came back stronger. I was surprised they let the fight go on. I had him hurt, and I was very surprised that they let the fight go on. I wanted to go 12 rounds. [Trainer] Joe [Goosen] said, ‘Let’s go 12 rounds. It’ll do you a world of good. If you want to up the game, you can get him out.’ I was getting rounds in as well. I needed it. It was good for my wind. It was good for my timing and my mind. Mentally it was good for me. There was a few mistakes I made, yes. This is the only way I’m going to learn,” Khan said.
Khan sounds a little disingenuous about his thoughts about being a good performance from him. It wasn’t a good fight. This would have been a good fight for Khan if he was facing someone like Terence Crawford or Errol Spence Jr. and he was able to beat them in a war. But against Vargas, a fighter that is a borderline journeyman, it wasn’t good to see Khan fighting for survival against this level fighter.
Khan’s promoter Eddie Hearn made it abundantly clear after the fight that he wants to see him fight Kell Brook next. Hearn says he’s going to sit down and talk to Khan this week and decide which direction he should go in. Hearn says that it’s now or never as far as the Khan-Brook fight goes. He wants them to face each other in December.
”Me and Eddie Hearn will sit down next week and see if we can make the fight happen,” Khan said about a fight between him and Pacquiao. ”Bringing Manny Pacquiao to the UK would be massive. It’s that name. To know that you fought Manny Pacquiao and you beat Manny Pacquiao would be amazing,” Khan said.
Khan will need to be assertive with Khan if he wants to push for the fight with Pacquiao, because the Matchroom Sport promoter has his mind made up that he wants him to fight the 32-year-old Brook (37-2, 26 KOs) in December. Unfortunately for Khan and Brook, their fight has likely past it’s sell by date by two to three years. It should have happened as far back as 2015 or 2016. It’s late in the game for Hearn
to sell Khan vs. Brook on Sky Box Office PPV. The two fighters are no longer top guys at 147, and it’s not going to interest the boxing fans now like it would have had they fought each other in 2015. Khan hurt the efforts at making the fight by electing to fight Saul Canelo Alvarez in 2016 and then taking two years off from boxing after he was knocked out in the 6th round. Right now, Brook would likely knock Khan out with very little effort and the fans seem to realize this, which is another reason why it’s likely too late to sell the Khan-Brook fight. Fans would watch it, but they might not bother ordering it on PPV the way that they and Hearn would want them to.
”I know for a fact that Kell will wait a couple of more months for the fight,” Khan said. ”I’m not ruling it out. It’s a fight that can still happen. Just hold tight. Let’s get the Pacquiao fight. I’m keeping an eye on that one. That’s a good fight for me,” Khan said.
Khan vs. Pacquiao might interest fans more than a fight between Khan and Brook at this point. But if Khan wants the Pacquiao fight, he needs to have it take place soon before the two of them get beaten. Both are vulnerable against good opposition. We saw tonight that it doesn’t require a very good fighter to give Khan major problems.