Amir Khan: Dreams on Hold for the Bolton Boxer

Why Khan’s fourth round stoppage defeat to Danny Garcia highlights the best and worst of his career so far.

Why Khan’s fourth round stoppage defeat to Danny Garcia highlights the best and worst of his career so far.

Amir Khan seemingly dominated the first two rounds against Danny Garcia, dancing around his opponent, his lightning fast punches and flashy footwork appearing to mesmerise the American, constantly putting him on the back foot and not allowing him to settle without landing any telling blows of his own.

Khan’s two punch combinations climbed to three and four as he grew in confidence, eventually drawing blood above the Philadelphia man’s right eye which was clearly visible at the end of round two.

Despite the cut, Garcia absorbed the pressure well and seemed relatively unaffected, perhaps highlighting a lack of punching power on the part of the young British boxer.

Switching tactics

In the third Garcia targeted the midriff, slowing Khan but allowing him greater license to come forward and target the head. Garcia was fortunate not to be deducted points as he came close to catching Khan below the belt on a couple of occasions.

Khan kept the flurries coming but walked onto a stunning left hook whilst in the middle of his own left-right combination, flooring the Bolton man. He climbed to his feet but was fortunate that only 14 seconds of the round remained, staggering through the final moments.

Khan nearly fell at the beginning of round four, effectively running from his opponent with referee Kenny Bayless giving him the 10 count. He survived. Khan remained on the defensive, failing to recover from the blow that landed on the right-side of his neck in round three.

  Amir Khan  

Using the first minute of round four to recover, Khan began to regain his composure despite Garcia throwing several huge shots. Khan was caught with a right and tripped on the rope going down for a second time. Khan got back to his feet and managed to withstand another barrage, landing a clean uppercut, briefly regaining the upper hand.

Title Unification

A final glancing blow to Khan’s right temple 45 seconds from the end of round four signalled the end of his three day reign as WBA light-welterweight champion having been reinstated following Lamont Peterson testing positive to synthetic steroids. Danny Garcia now holds the WBA and WBC light welterweight titles.

Whilst commentators believed Khan was boxing clever, Garcia was one step ahead the entire fight. Khan, not known for his punching power, was seduced into attacking Garcia, allowing the American more time to land the decisive blow in round three, raising questions over both his chin and tactical approach.

It already seems as if Amir Khan has been around for a lifetime.  His first public outing came at the tender age of 17, where he lost in the final to arguably the greatest amateur boxer the world has ever seen in Mario Kindelán at the 2004 Athens Olympics. Eight years and 29 professional fights later, his speed, footwork and aggression certainly match his ambitions to fight Floyd Mayweather; however in comparison his chin looks decidedly amateurish.

Welterweight or not to Welterweight?

The future remains uncertain for Khan. Whilst he is undoubtedly one of the best boxers in the light-welterweight division, dreams of stepping up to face pound for pound king Mayweather at welterweight may never materialise with many other fighters staking a much more solid claim.

Climbing from 140 to 147lbs now may not be the worst idea in the world. Those extra seven pounds may slow him slightly but could provide him with the extra muscle to make his lightning fast hands more convincing. On the down side the punching power of the opposition goes up a level, something Khan may not be able to cope with.

Similar to Khan, Miguel Cotto was known to have a “glass chin” at light welterweight but upon moving to welterweight is now considered much harder to hurt. This may be a result of bulkier neck muscles stemming from the trapezius in the upper back. Stronger neck muscles could help resist the sudden angular acceleration of the head when an incoming blow lands, something Khan may choose to focus on.

If he is to move up, a potential opponent may be Kell Brook who has already called out Khan a number of times. Khan rejected him 12 months ago refusing to give the Sheffield fighter an “easy pay-day.” This time round, the reverse may be true. Brook remains undefeated at 147lbs with 28 wins, 18 coming by knockout. The Sheffield fighter would be a prime candidate giving Khan the opportunity to fight back in his native England and rebuild his reputation. Brook would be no pushover and would look to enhance his own reputation by taking such a big name out. Following his victory over Carson Jones, Brook now holds the IBF International Welterweight title which may postpone any potential fight.

Khan has also called into question extended training camps in Los Angeles and the Philippines, hinting at changing his arrangements with coach Freddie Roach and leaning towards focusing training in his native Britain.

Many questions are left unanswered but I believe we are yet to see the best of Amir “King” Khan.