Be careful what you ask for.
WBA Jr. Welterweight Champion Amir Khan of Britain learned exactly what this saying means on Dec. 11 as he managed to hang onto his title with a close unanimous decision against Marcos Maidana of Argentina. Khan hand-picked the Argentine slugger for the third defense of his crown because he wanted to prove a point to naysayers who say he has a glass jaw.
However, he had to withstand an onslaught over the last three rounds to do it. But give him credit. He managed to stay on his feet and come out with a decision by scores of 114-111, 114-111, and 113-112. The scores were close, but the fight was even closer since Maidana was dropped in the first round and was deducted a point in the fifth for throwing an elbow, giving away two 10-8 rounds.
Khan started off extremely well and almost ended things in the first round after sending Maidana to the canvas with a pair of well-placed, solid body shots. The challenger beat the count, then was saved by the bell to close out the round. In what could have been a first-round knockout turned into a give-and-take battle that went the distance.
It’s amazing how many fights that look to be over in the first round have ended up turning into excellent contests over the years. Another example was Manny Pacquiao decking Juan Manuel Marquez three times in the opening round of their first contest -- and Marquez giving his all to scrape out a draw. But it was also a classic example of a guy who probably could have won the fight if he’d connected on a few of his big bombs earlier on. After the bout Maidana said he thought he did enough in the late rounds to win it. But it’s a 12-round fight so he’s only got himself to blame.
Maidana started to take the fight to the champion in the third round after Khan went head-hunting and abandoned his effective body attack. He rocked Khan in the seventh, but didn’t hurt him again until the 10th when it looked like the champion was going to suffer the second knockout defeat of his career after Maidana clocked him with wicked right hands. Khan looked to be out on his feet a few times, but managed to stay upright and make it to the bell. Even though he wasn’t knocked down it was a 10-8 round for Maidana.
The Argentine continued to throw caution to the wind in the 11th and 12th rounds and Khan almost threw the fight away by not standing his ground long enough to throw back and keep Maidana off of him. Maidana landed some more heavy rights and uppercuts, but Khan refused to go down.
With the win, Khan raises his record to 24-1, with 17 KOs while Maidana drops to 29-2, with 27 KOs. It was one of the best fights of the year and the late surge by Maidana made it an edge-of-the-seat, exciting battle that I’m sure fans would love to see again in a rematch. Khan came close to regretting his choice of Maidana as his opponent, but proved to the boxing world that rumors of a weak chin are definitely premature. He withstood the heaviest shots Maidana could muster.
The fight should give Khan some confidence if he takes on the winner of the Devon Alexander (WBC Champion) vs Timothy Bradley (WBO Champion) fight which is scheduled for late January.
On the undercard, Victor Ortiz (28-2-2, 28 KOs) and Lamont Peterson (28-1-1, 14 KOs) fought to a 10-round majority draw in another Jr. Welterweight bout. After a slow start things picked up around the fourth round. Peterson was dropped twice in round three, but managed to fight back and land some solid right hands the rest of the way. The scores were 94-94, 94-94, and 95-93 for Peterson.