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Amir Khan: Can he Rule Boxing?

By Donald Stewart

At the MEN on the 15th April 2011 Amir Khan 25-1, 17 KO’s, was hoisted up onto his entourage’s shoulders having been pronounced STILL the WBA Light Welterweight Champion of the World…

Some said he looked embarrassed. Barry Hearn said the stoppage was the most disgraceful he had ever seen. Calls were made for a rematch – mainly from Hearn and the Paul McCloskey 22-1, 12 KO’s, camp – the plucky Irish challenger.

McCloskey claimed the fight was stopped prematurely – round six after an accidental clash of heads left him with a serious cut. McCloskey claimed he had a latter round strategy that he wasn’t able to demonstrate because it was stopped long before he could implement it.

Most commentators thought Khan had won the six rounds boxed. The judges agreed with this assessment and the score cards gave the decision to Khan. In the aftermath people have looked at the problems a southpaw McCloskey gave Khan and they think another tricky fight against a southpaw could be Khan’s undoing.

What is without doubt is that this fight has spurned as many negative comments as the Marcos Maidana fight gave positive ones.

As a follow up to his victory against Maidana this was just a damp squib. We wanted a triumphant return to the home land, a homecoming fit for a champ and what we got was a disputed decision that, no matter what the McCloskey camp want, will not end in a rematch.

That McCloskey was outfought for the rounds he was allowed to box in is undoubted but the caliber of the opponent for this highly important contest is now in doubt. McCloskey was an undefeated European Champion but had hardly lit the skies alight previously.

Many thought he would come out and freeze but he didn’t. People made sacrifices to follow him to Manchester and the nature of the defeat could give them some pride that their man had not been beaten to a pulp or even knocked out as Khan claimed he would have done in the next few rounds if allowed to!

What is in dispute was the TV deal.

Sky pulled the plug on it being one of their major events that night and it can only be imagined that this was because it was an unattractive prospect for their viewing public!

Shown on Primetime instead it attracted over 50,000 PPV viewers and has lead to some discussion over whether the Champ or the Challenger made more money out of the fight. Quite rich considering Barry Hearn roundly criticized Khan’s camp for breaking the deal with SKY and moving to Primetime – he claimed they would be lucky to get 5,000 subscribers!

Neither fighters stock has risen as a result of this fight and both camps must be hoping that their next choice may bring more kudos to the plate than this fight offered. The intense negotiations for this fight had faltered at times along the way – even before the problems with television! McCloskey wasn’t the only European fighter mentioned as a possible opponent for this highly important fight. John Murray had been touted as he was also an unbeaten British fighter that would pull in the crowds. His crown was knocked slightly askance after a very unconvincing win against Spaniard Karim El Ouazghari to retain his European lightweight title.

Following on from the farce of WBA Heavyweight Champion David Haye versus Audley Harrison British boxing has wounds that are like open sores and there has to be better from DeGale and Groves at the very least if we can hold our heads up higher than the Khan – McCloskey fight suggests.

Amir Khan has declared this shall be his last fight in the UK for some time. The good old US of A will see more of him and this may be his saving. If people did not see the win against McCloskey they can hold on to the memory of Maidana.

His camp has made BIG noises about the possibility of a fight against Timothy Bradley. This would make a lot of sense. There is a scheduled defense for Bradley in July and it would be easy enough I think for Khan to get ready for it.

On the evidence of the McCloskey fight he should avoid Zab “Super” Judah and Devon Alexander.

They are both southpaws…

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