Those who like and dislike WBA Jr. Welterweight Champion Amir Khan (23-1, 17 KOs) of England have all been surprised at certain times in his pro boxing career. Fans of the 24-year-old Khan were shocked when he got floored by Breidis Prescott of Colombia in just 54 seconds back in 2008.
Non-fans were surprised at how well he came back from that beating when he took on Mexican ring legend Marco Antonio Barrera in March, 2009, who he beat on a fifth-round technical decision after the fight went to the scorecards because Barrera was cut.
He then showed skill and composure four months later when he beat Ukrainian Andre Kotelnik by 12-round unanimous decision to win the title, and again in December, 2009 when he defended it with a first-round TKO over Dmitriy Salita of Ukraine. His last fight was a unanimous decision over American Paulie Malignaggi in May. His chin wasn’t tested in these fights though as neither man has much in the way of power.
The loss to Prescott may have been a blessing in disguise as it prompted Khan to change trainers and bring in the famous Freddie Roach. This has obviously helped in his development, as shown by his improvement in the ring since then. Sparring with some guy named Manny Pacquiao should also have its benefits.
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Khan’s next fight is against 27-year-old Marcos Maidana (29-1, 27 KOs) of Argentina at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, on Dec. 11. The result’s going to surprise one of those factions of fans because he is either going to solidify his ranking as a world-class fighter or will be considered a flash in the pan with a weak chin. Of course, this all depends on the outcome of the fight and how good he looks.
Maidana’s a well-known power puncher, so non-fans are expecting Khan to get stopped and fans are expecting a win, be it a decision or stoppage. This is definitely an important bout for Khan, because if he loses he may have to basically start all over again, while a win should put him in line for a big-money bout with another elite fighter.
But the question is, how will Khan’s chin hold up when he gets tagged by Maidana? The Argentinean often fights recklessly, shown in his sixth-round KO over Victor Ortiz in June, 2009 when he was dropped three times in the first two rounds, and can be caught coming in. Obviously, his chin isn’t the greatest either, but he picks himself up and carries on with the task at hand. Maidana has also fought Kotelnik and came out on the wrong end of a split decision in February, 2009, and beat DeMarcus Corley by unanimous decision his in his last fight in August.
Khan will have to have some sting in his punches to keep Maidana off of him because if he doesn’t, there’s no way he’s going to keep him at bay for 12 rounds. He’d eventually pay the price and I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets knocked out. Maidana can be outboxed though and that’s going to be Khan’s game plan because he’s not going to want to slug it out with him.
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But I’m a neutral observer in this fight considering I appreciate both boxers. So whatever happens to Khan won’t surprise me either way.