Amir Khan's five finest performances
By Hector Franco
We are now less than a week away from this year’s first mega fight on PPV. Former Jr. Welterweight champion and Welterweight contender, Amir Khan, will move up to 155 pounds to challenge WBC middleweight champion, Canelo Alvarez. The fight itself has gotten a mixed reaction from the public, but it has been mostly a positive one. When the fight was first announced it came unexpectedly. It is a fresh match up that fans haven’t seen before and one where the styles of both fighters are likely to produce a great fight.
Although Canelo Alvarez is the favorite going into the fight with Amir Khan, there are many fans that believe Khan has the right style to defeat Alvarez. They believe that Khan’s speed when punching in combination will befuddle Alvarez all night long. Even with Khan’s advantage in hand speed he will still need a good game plan to avoid falling into the same mistakes he has made in the past. These mistakes have not only cost Khan a victory, but have also left him to recover from a knockout. Fans of Khan hope that he can pull out one of his best performances to beat Alvarez. Here’s a look at Amir Khan’s five finest performances thus far. He will need to match or surpass these performances to have his hand raised on May 7th.
ANDRIY KOTELNIK (07-18-2009)
This was Khan’s first world title shot and second fight with Hall of Fame trainer, Freddie Roach. The fight took place at the M.E.N. Arena in Manchester. Not many expected Khan to put on the performance he did against Kotelnik. Khan dominated the fight and won nearly all twelve rounds. It was the first real look at how Roach’s training had influenced Khan. Khan’s advantages in hand speed and combination punching were magnified against Kotelnik. Before his bout with Khan, Kotelnik won a split decision over Marcos Maidana. After the Khan bout he would go on to face Devon Alexander in St. Louis. Many felt Kotelnik was robbed in his fight against Alexander. Kotelnik left the sport for four years because of the decision. He returned in 2014 in the Ukraine against unknown Alexander Benidze. While Kotelnik is no longer a factor in the sport, fans of Khan can point to this fight to show that he could dominate an opponent for all twelve rounds.
PAULIE MALIGNAGGI (05-05-2010)
The fight with Malignaggi was Khan’s first fight in the United States. Before the fight, Malignaggi berated Khan with insults that he was unproven, as he had never fought outside the U.K.. Malignaggi was coming off of his series of fights with Juan Diaz before he faced Khan. Malignaggi would be Khan’s best opponent up to that point. He was a former world champion who had faced the likes of Edner Cherry, Miguel Cotto, and Ricky Hatton.
The fight was set to take place at Madison Square Garden in New York. The fight ended up being a microcosm of the saying ‘styles make fights’. Malignaggi who was a slick counterpuncher who liked to operate with a jab from the outside was unable to put anything of significance together against Khan. From the opening round, it was clear that Khan’s hand speed and high volume was too much for Malignaggi. The fight was stopped in the 11th round by the referee after Khan landed another combination. Unlike his other losses throughout his career, there were no excuses from Malignaggi after the fight. Khan was simply the better fighter in every way.
MARCOS MAIDANA (12-11-2010)
After his first knockout loss to Breidis Prescott in 2008, Amir Khan was determined to the show the public that he was not afraid to take on punchers. What Khan did to show this was take on the biggest puncher in the 140-pound division. He faced Argentina’s Marcos Maidana. Maidana had just come off an impressive run where he defeated Victor Ortiz, Victor Cayo, and DeMarcus Corley. Many fans felt that Khan was making a huge mistake taking on such a big puncher just to prove a point.
The fight started with Maidana taking a swing at Khan after Khan offered him his glove as a sign of sportsmanship. Maidana proceeded to swing wildly at Khan in an attempt to knock him out early. Khan, however, stayed calm and landed hard combinations. Then came the body shot. Khan landed a beautiful left hook to the body that sent Maidana to the canvass writhing in pain. Maidana made it up to beat the count, but he was still visibly hurt. The next eight rounds were all Khan for the most part. He did what he wanted with Maidana, landing combination after combination. By the tenth round, it was clear Maidana needed a knockout to win the fight. He almost got one in that round. Maidana landed a hard overhand right on Khan’s chin. The punch left Khan badly hurt as he held on to survive the round. The next two rounds were more of the same as Khan tried his best to survive and not get stopped. One moment of lapse in concentration almost cost Khan a victory. Khan survived and was awarded the unanimous decision victory over Maidana. The fight ended up as a nominee for fight of the year by numerous publications.
Although Khan, was hurt in the championship rounds of the fight he gained more respect by not going down against such a devastating puncher. Khan looked the best he has ever looked in the first nine rounds against Maidana. But if he hopes to defeat Alvarez he can’t have any slip up’s like he did in the tenth against Maidana.
ZAB JUDAH (07-23-2011)
This fight is what many consider to be Khan’s finest performance. Where he put it all together against a solid opponent. Khan has trouble against fighters who put pressure on him, but against pure boxers, his hand speed gives him a huge advantage. If he can utilize that advantage and match it with a good game plan, Khan is a tough man to beat. Match that with a high boxing IQ and you have an elite fighter. That’s what Khan looked like against Judah, elite. From the opening bell Judah couldn’t touch Khan. Khan essentially out boxed and beat up Judah for five rounds before stopping him in the fifth round with a body shot. Judah complained that the shot was low, but failed to make the referee’s ten count. Before the Judah fight, there were talks of a unification bout with Timothy Bradley to crown an official king at 140. Bradley decided to move up in weight and punch his ticket in the Pacquiao sweepstakes instead. This fight gave precedence to those that felt Bradley ducked Khan. A fight between the two even now would be welcomed, but Khan has to get passed Alvarez next. This would be Khan’s last win under trainer Freddie Roach.
DEVON ALEXANDER (12-13-2014)
After the Judah fight, Khan suffered two defeats at the hands of Lamont Peterson and Danny Garcia. The Peterson fight was highly controversial with the way it was refereed and scored. A rematch was scheduled until Peterson tested positive for PED’s. Khan instead faced Danny Garcia. This ended up being Khan’s last fight with Freddie Roach. After two rounds of dominating Garcia, Khan stayed in the pocket too long trading with Garcia and paid for it with a perfectly timed left hook. The fight was stopped in the fourth round. Khan left Freddie Roach for California-based trainer, Virgil Hunter. The idea being that Hunter would be able to get Khan to think more defensively than offensively.
The first few fights under Hunter were inconsistent. Carlos Molina and Julio Diaz gave Khan much more trouble than was warranted. Diaz even scored a knockdown against Khan. The next two fights from Khan were much more complete. He dominated Luis Collazo over 12 rounds, knocking him down several times. Their magnum opus came against Devon Alexander. Khan put the welterweight division on notice with this performance. Alexander had been defeated beforehand by the likes of Shawn Porter and Timothy Bradley, but not quite with the absolute domination that Khan put forth. The hand speed looked magnificent. There weren’t mistakes made by Khan. He never stayed long enough for Alexander to comeback with any significant punch.
Since then Khan plagued fans once again with a lackluster performance against Chris Algieri in his last outing. Fans of Khan will hope that they see the Khan from the Alexander bout and not the Algieri bout on May 7th.
Are there any fights that you feel should have been added to the list? What is your favorite Amir Khan performance? Share your thoughts
Featured Photo: AFP/ Getty Images