Crawford vs. Khan: Khan is a fighter in decline that needs saving from himself
By Jonny Rashman: The sight of Amir Khan lying motionless on the blue ring canvas, poleaxed, eyes rolling to the back of his head. Referee Kenny Bayless bent down with both arms stretched to the side, signalling the end of the contest, an almost despondent looking Saul Alvarez kitted out all in red, head down overlooking both figures is a snapshot that will stand the test of time in this beautiful, ferocious, gladiatorial sport we call boxing.
May 7th, 2016 was the date in question, Khan vs. Canelo, billed as power vs speed. This was the mega-fight the British star had been desperately craving for. Despite early success, causing the much bigger Canelo trouble with an array of dazzling combinations. It was ultimately a matter of time before the Mexican superstar caught up with his British opponent, and in round 6 landed a vicious overhand right to end proceedings. It really was a spit your popcorn out of your mouth moment!
A defeat like that can stay with you for life. After another brutal knockout loss, serious questions must have been asked as to whether the former World Champion should step foot inside a boxing ring again. If it wasn’t discussed, it should have been.
Professional combatants need saving from themselves, they are always the last to admit their superpowers are on the wane. No matter how much fame, success and adulation has been achieved, when you strip it all down, they are born fighters who will always come out for one last round.
The evidence speaks for itself, since that harrowing defeat back in 2016, Khan (33-4, 20KO’s) has competed two times in just under three years against lower-tier opponents, resulting in just 13 rounds of competitive boxing action. Hardly a ringing endorsement to face one of the world’s best, yet this is exactly where the British man finds himself.
With a mooted bout against a certain British rival (which we won’t go into) never materializing, Khan accepted the dangerous assignment of taking on WBO Champion and pound for pound fighter Terence “Bud” Crawford (34-0, 25KOs). Going off recent form does he really warrant a shot against the American Champion? Granted on paper this seems like a competitive fight, however, in reality this is a mismatch of epic proportions.
At 32 years of age, Amir Khan is a shell of his former self. Although still possessing lighting fast hand speed, worryingly, his foot-speed seems to be on the decline, making him a sitting duck for a pinpoint accurate striker in the form of Crawford. This spells danger for a fighter who has a notoriously suspect chin.
No longer can he use the marauding in and out style that has enthralled boxing fans throughout the years. A new strategy must be adopted to cause any chance of an upset. Rash thinking must be swapped for total concentration and calmness, attacks need to be deployed when there is a viable opening. Does he have the discipline to carry out a game plan such as this? Historic evidence would suggest not.
A recent outing against the mediocre Samual Vargas is proof he just isn’t the elite fighter he once was. The thrilling wars against Marcos Maidana, and Julio Diaz, combined with injuries and long hiatuses away from the ring, seems to have caught up with the Bolton native.
With marriage difficulties being played out in the public eye, a very bizarre twitter spat with British counterpart Anthony Joshua and a stint on a reality TV Show. I have reservations as to the reasoning for Khan taking this contest. Does he still have a burning desire to want to prove he is one of the world’s best? or is this one last big payday before he hangs up the gloves?
Boxing is the most unforgiving of sports, as the old adage goes, you don’t play boxing. As much of a platform the sport of boxing can give these modern-day warriors, it can also hinder the rest of their existence on planet earth. The fight continues long after the final bell sounds. A litter of tragedies and problems outside of the ropes has continually plagued prize-fighters of the past and present. I’m afraid very few have surfaced with their faculties in check and their financial freedom secured.
Amir Khan will go down as one of the best fighters to emerge from the United Kingdom. He has continually fought the best fighters of his era, albeit coming up short against the world’s elite. He has dared to be great on a number of occasions. A victory over the multi-talented Crawford will go down in history. It’s a massive gamble which offers an even greater return. I just hope we don’t see a fighter on his last legs at the mecca of boxing in Madison Square Garden on Saturday week. If there’s ever a city where underdogs prosper, its New York City!!