The farcical bout against Paul McCloskey aside, Amir Khan should forget England, study the Pretty Boy and move up a division quickly...
'A disgrace…' said Barry Hearn as he lunged wildly at the referee in the aftermath of this farcical fight between Amir Khan and Paul McCloskey. Hearn had it right. To stop a fight for a cut, 30 seconds before the end of the round and without giving the cut man a chance to earn his corn was more than a disgrace, it was yet another nail hammered into the coffin of a sport that I fell in love with 27 years ago.
We will never know if Paul McCloskey's assertion that Khan was blowing and would've been ripe for knockout in the later rounds was correct, and we will never have the chance to see if Khan would've floored his opponent soon afterwards as he claimed. Heart and head both say Khan, he was the better fighter despite being ragged and McCloskey would've had to catch him to hit him. Smiling at him was never going to unite backside and canvas.
There will never be a rematch between the two and rightly so. But with Khan looking to Timothy Bradley and unification, here's what I learnt from last night's farce.
Amir Khan should forget about fighting in England.
Although I imagine it drives Freddie Roach insane, it is commendable that Khan wants to put on such a show for his fans when he fights in the UK that he reverts to several of his amateur habits. His balance was all over the show last night as he lunged at the ducking, weaving and decidedly non-punching challenger. Unless he can lure Timothy Bradley - or a big name Welterweight when he makes the inevitable step up in weight - to the UK then he will, for now at least, always be dropping down in class and therefore will have to chase the fight to avoid being on a hiding to nothing. There is also the fact that he spends most of his time in America and, even flying first class, the time difference will have had some effect. Against better fighters, nothing can be left to chance.
Khan wants to be remembered as an exciting fighter, but when he steps up in class he will need to work on his defence and learn to finish in the dying embers rather than an early blaze of glory.
He needs to find an uppercut
Khan is tall and rangy for a junior welterweight, but with such quick feet and flexibility, he should have a better range of punches than shown last night. As Bradley walked forward with his eyes facing the canvas, Khan swung wildly telegraphed hooks at his ribcage. Looking slightly drained at the weight, he was definitely missing the power he showed against Marcos Maidana and would have been better served with double-handed uppercuts. It's a punch he rarely throws, but as he steps up in class, he will be inevitably involved in more wars, and needs to work on his angles and variety when the fight goes inside. He also suffered for this against Maidana in that 10th round when the fight went to the ropes.
He should study Floyd Mayweather
Khan is not a concussive puncher. He does his damage by throwing a lot of punches and dizzying his opponents with his speed. He is also obsessed with Manny Pacquiao and, although he mentioned fighting his stablemate last night, he would probably be better served in looking at Floyd Mayweather for how he should fight. Although Pretty Boy can be boring to watch, he is the best fighter in the world at soaking up pressure, frustrating opponents and, when he can be bothered, finishing them off with devastating accuracy. The difference between the two is that Khan already has a loss to his name and doesn’t need to be obsessed with protecting the zero. Also, Khan wants to be remembered as an exciting fighter, but when he steps up in class he will need to work on his defence and learn to finish in the dying embers rather than an early blaze of glory. Despite showing his chin was better than we thought against Maidana, he will come up against more powerful men at Welterweight.
He should move up to Welterweight
Despite a desire to become the youngest man to unify the Junior Welterweight division, I’m not sure he should tangle with Bradley. He looked tired last night, whatever he said afterwards, and his struggles at making the weight for this fight were well documented. If he was in anything but 100% shape against the impressive Bradley he would be in trouble. That said, last night was probably a blip bought on by the fact that McCloskey is a step-down after Maidana and also the fiasco surrounding the TV rights. Unlike Ricky Hatton, gaining seven pounds will prove no problem to a man of his stature and it will be interesting to see the effect it has on his power and speed. I’d imagine he will fight Bradley in July and, whatever the result, fight at Welterweight in December in Vegas. Possibly against the experienced Joshua Clottey before moving on, if successful, to the ageing Moseley, the dangerous Victor Ortiz and then, who knows, Pacquiao, Mayweather, or both.
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