The light welterweight division just got a little heavier.
Britain’s Amir Khan, 22-1, 16 KO’s, has come to America and now steps into a weight class that does not lack for talent and competition. Instead it’s a matchmaker’s (boxing anyway) dream to pick and choose just who he will be fighting who in the upcoming year.
Khan makes his American debut at Madison Square Garden on May 15th against Paul “Magic Man” Malignaggi, 27-3, 5 KO’s.
Khan hails from Bolton, Lancashire, UK. He earned the 2004 Olympic Silver Medal for Britain in the lightweight division. At 23, he has a relatively young career. Khan recently signed with Golden Boy Promotions and currently trains with Freddie Roach. As far as the business of boxing is concerned, Khan has allied himself with all the right people. It’s now up to him if whether he can compete at a top level and let his boxing ability shout out that he is the real deal among the light welterweights.
Looking back to Khan’s fight year in 2008, the impressive record is marred with a single loss in September 2008. Fighting for the WBO Inter-Continental title, Khan lost the bout against Breidis Prescott in a 1st round KO.
Shaking off the loss as a lesson, Khan took a fight 3 months later and rebounded with a bout against Oisin Fagan. In the 2nd round, Khan scored a TKO and came away with the WBA International Lightweight title.
In 2009, Khan set himself for a defense of his title along with the vacant WBO Inter-Continental Lightweight Title. Against veteran Mexican fighter Marco Antonio Barrera, Khan beat up the seasoned Barrera with the bout ending in a 5th round TD. Khan continued his winning ways and set his eyes on the WBA World Light Welterweight title.
Later in July 2009, he fought against Andriy Kotelnik and earned a 12 round unanimous decision. In his last fight of 2009, Khan easily defeated Dmitriy Salita with a 1st round TKO. Salita didn’t show up for the fight because he was knocked down three times and the first knockdown came 10 seconds into the round. Brutal to watch, Khan executed a perfectly timed lead hook and cross. The replay on that is brutal and beautiful – there is no doubt to Khan’s punching intent and power.
Of his 22 bouts, Khan has 16 KO’s which shows obvious punching power. In his fight against Malignaggi, I predict that he will successfully defend his belt for a third time. Should Malignaggi have a chance, he would have to go all 12 rounds and display punch combinations and ring generalship.
Malignaggi’s KO power is questionable so I don’t see how he can knock out Khan. But that’s just for right now. The year is still relatively young. Depending on this result, Khan would just have to see who may take him up on his next fight and put his WBA belt on the line.
Currently ranked #5 among light welterweights, Khan has no shortage of fighters to choose. I always like to exaggerate matchups, especially matchups that might result in the Supreme Champion of a Division. Trying to remember which fighter has what title always turns into a game of Scrabble for this boxing writer. I’ll start with the obvious.
Recently, Devon “Alexander the Great” Alexander defeated Juan Urango with an 8th round TKO and unified the WBC and IBF Light Welterweight Titles. Khan is the current titleholder for the WBA World Light Welterweight title. So, imagine this, Amir Khan, WBC, IBF, WBA Light Welterweight titleholder. The same could be said for Alexander. It would be an excellent initiation for Khan to enter the mix of boxing business and coveted belt earning. Alexander is currently ranked #4.
Of course, the second matchup would be against the currently ranked #1 light welterweight Timothy Bradley. Bradley is the current WBO Light Welterweight titleholder. I read my fellow writer, Geoff “The Professor” Poundes’ article on the talented Bradley and think, well first, I’ve never been a bride either, but he makes a good point that Bradley can stay at his weight and beat everyone in the division, which I know he can do or he can move up in weight, which he probably will.
But whether his boxing ability and talent will translate at the higher weight may not even be a possibility. A boxer’s talent and his boxing record will get a boxer so far in the ranks, but are his matchups heavily touted and lucrative bouts or is he simply going through yet another fighter? The light welterweight division is filled with good, solid fighters, but each fighter must ask, “Who is next?” Could be there be a fight between Bradley and Alexander? The light welterweight matchups just may be a nightmare after all to figure out.
Oh, wait, Khan’s in this mix too.
As for the promise of Amir Khan and his career, regardless of his belt, needs to take a hard fought path against fighters that comparably match his talent and ever changing boxing ability.
With the proper guidance, Khan will hopefully take fights and get more ring time at light welterweight. He may even consider moving up in weight. But moving up in weight should be gradual and his boxing path will no less promise well-earned wins and belts.