Home > Boxing > What now for Amir Khan?

What now for Amir Khan?

WBA Light-Welterweight world champion Amir Khan last night successfully defended his title for a second time against New Yorker Paulie Malignaggi in front of a partisan crowd at Madison Square Garden. It was Khan’s debut stateside on a card televised on HBO Boxing After Dark and the Bolton native did not disappoint.

There had been much trash talking in the build up to the fight which boiled over at Friday’s weigh-in when a group of young men wearing hoodies with ‘Khan’s Army’ emblazoned on them stormed the stage knocking both fighters off. This increased anticipation for a bout which most expected to the champion to win, but that he would be tested by the awkward Malignaggi.

In truth, it turned out to be a straightforward and impressive defence for the British youngster, especially after early nerves and tension subsided. Malignaggi provided some difficulties early on as Khan struggled to time him and the challenger caught him with some crisp counter shots, but after Khan solved the puzzle in the third round, the outcome of the fight was never in doubt. Malignaggi lacked the power to hurt Khan and the champion took full advantage, fighting on the front foot and making the American eat his ramrod jab all night. He also landed quick hooks and crosses when the opportunity presented itself. Quite simply, Khan was too quick and too accurate and by the eighth round, the fight had visibly been knocked out of the challenger. He continued to take a shellacking until the eleventh round when referee Steve Smoger decided he had seen enough and waved off the fight. There were no protestations from Malignaggi or his corner which tells its own story. At the time of the stoppage, Sport Report had Khan leading by a score of 99 to 93.

Amir Khan after successfully defeating Paulie Malignaggi (This image is the property of Getty Images)

Khan looked good against an awkward, world-rated opponent and more importantly, on a HBO televised card in the States. With the backing of Oscar de la Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions, Khan is now ready to step up and attempt to rule the 140 pounds division. In a post-fight interview with HBO’s Max Kellerman, Khan confirmed his desire to stay at light-welterweight and unify the division. So what next? Sport Report takes a look at the options.

Marcos Rene Maidana 28(27) – 1(0)

The 26 year old power puncher from Argentina is now the mandatory challenger for Khan’s WBA title and is therefore the most likely option. Maidana has had a title shot before, losing a split decision to Khan victim Andriy Kotelnik, but it was in June 2009 that he catapulted himself in to the division’s upper echelons with an exciting sixth round TKO victory over highly touted prospect Victor Ortiz. Since then, he has reeled off two more stoppage victories, most recently against unbeaten prospect Victor Manuel Cayo.

Maidana has genuine knockout power in both hands which would be a concern for Khan who does not have a granite chin by any stretch of the imagination. Maidana himself is, however, very hittable and was on the floor three times against Ortiz before stopping him. He is promoted by Golden Boy Promotions too, but they have shown in the past that they are prepared to let their fighters fight each other and as the mandatory challenger, he is more than likely going to be Khan’s next opponent.

Victor Ortiz 27(21) – 2(1) – 1

The 23 year old from California has been highly touted for a long time now and was reputedly sent home from sparring after bashing Oscar de la Hoya as he prepared to fight Manny Pacquiao. He was going along quite nicely, beating decent opposition until the Ortiz Express was derailed by Maidana last year. He has since set about rebuilding his career and has looked good in doing so. Fought on the Khan-Malignaggi undercard last night against the world-class Nate Campbell and he pitched a virtual shutout. Ortiz has good power in both hands and shows an impressive range of punches when he is on song. The Maidana loss looks to have been a blessing in disguise as he now seems much less gung-ho and he has tightened up his defence.

Like Khan and Maidana, Ortiz is a Golden Boy fighter and they may choose to keep him away from Khan whilst he continues to re-establish himself as a major player in the light-welterweight division.

Devon Alexander 20(13) – 0

Unbeaten WBC and IBF Light-Welterweight champion. Alexander stopped the usually teak tough Juan Urango last time out and looked very impressive in doing so. Technically solid with decent pop, Alexander would be a tough opponent for Khan but a win would give the Englishman great kudos. Alexander’s biggest weakness is that he can be hit and against a quick, accurate puncher like Khan, that could prove his undoing.

There is much talk of a unification fight between Alexander and Timothy Bradley so that may well happen first, with Khan fighting the winner provided that he does not lose in the meantime. Before any of this though, Alexander must first defend his title on August 7th against an as yet unnamed opponent.

Timothy Bradley 25(11) – 0

Universally recognised as the top man in the division, the WBO champion was also the WBC champion before being forced to vacate. Bradley is on a hot streak having beaten Junior Witter, Edner Cherry, Kendall Holt and Lamont Peterson in four of his last five fights (the other was a no contest against Nate Campbell) and he would present a huge challenge to Khan. As a result, however, victory for Khan would increase his stock immeasurably.

Bradley is an all-round quality operator with quick hands and a good boxing brain. He does, however, lack the punch power of Maidana, Ortiz and Alexander and so may be seen as a safer bet.

All of the aforementioned would prove tough opposition for Khan but he is more than capable of beating all of them on his day. In the post-fight interview, Khan stated that he would be more than happy to fight Maidana next and he referred to the idea of the fight as a semi-final, with Bradley and Alexander contesting the other. The winners of the two bouts would then fight each other. If the promoters involved and HBO manage to pull this off, we will be in for a treat in the light-welterweight division.

Advertisements
Categories: Boxing
  1. May 21, 2010 at 11:45 pm

    John, cheers for the comment. I have to say, I agree and disagree with you here.

    I agree with you when you say that we didn’t learn anything about Khan last Saturday. Malignaggi is a top class boxer (Mayweather has said Paulie has the best boxing brain in the sport apart from himself) but he lacks any sort of punch power so he was unable to keep Khan honest. Nevertheless Khan did what he had to do and it was a good US debut for him.

    Bradley may be too soon but I don’t think he’s that great. I would actually be tempted to tip Alexander to beat him, although it would be a pick’um fight. I actually think the light-welter division is weaker now than it has been in years as the top fighters have either retired or stepped up to welter so Khan is in a good place.

    I disagree regarding Maidana and Ortiz. I know Maidana beat Ortiz but Ortiz should have won. Just got stupid when he had him hurt and paid the price. I think Ortiz is the much better boxer and he can punch too. Maidana is a banger and that will be a concern for Khan with rumours coming out of the Wildccard that he regularly gets wobbled in sparring. But he throws wide winging punches and that is made for Khan’s quick jab and straight right. I think it will be Maidana now as it is what people want and he is Khan’s mandatory. Ortiz is still rebuilding after the loss so I think GBP will be cautious with him and keep him away from Khan.

    I agree with you regarding the weight. He’s tall and broad for light-welter so I see him stepping up too, in fact I think he has said so himself.

    I read this today on Secondsout. It’s by Thomas Hauser who is the best boxing writer around in my opinion. Interesting read

    http://www.secondsout.com/headlines/main-headline/khan-malignaggi-a-fighters-code

  2. May 21, 2010 at 11:41 pm

    John, cheers for the comment. I have to say, I agree and disagree with you here.

    I agree with you when you say that we didn’t learn anything about Khan last Saturday. Malignaggi is a top class boxer (Mayweather has said Paulie has the best boxing brain in the sport apart from himself) but he lacks any sort of punch power so he was unable to keep Khan honest. Nevertheless Khan did what he had to do and it was a good US debut for him.

    Bradley may be too soon but I don’t think he’s that great. I would actually be tempted to tip Alexander to beat him, although it would be a pick’um fight. I actually think the light-welter division is weaker now than it has been in years as the top fighters have either retired or stepped up to welter so Khan is in a good place.

    I disagree regarding Maidana and Ortiz. I know Maidana beat Ortiz but Ortiz should have won. Just got stupid when he had him hurt and paid the price. I think Ortiz is the much better boxer and he can punch too. Maidana is a banger and that will be a concern for Khan with rumours coming out of the Wildccard that he regularly gets wobbled in sparring. But he throws wide winging punches and that is made for Khan’s quick jab and straight right. I think it will be Maidana now as it is what people want and he is Khan’s mandatory. Ortiz is still rebuilding after the loss so I think GBP will be cautious with him and keep him away from Khan.

    I agree with you regarding the weight. He’s tall and broad for light-welter so I see him stepping up too, in fact I think he has said so himself.

  3. John Platt
    May 21, 2010 at 11:28 pm

    By beating Mallignagi, I don’t think we learnt anything new about Khan. His handspeed & quick feet have always been his prize assets & under Roach’s tenure he’s fine tuned his jab & his composure. In truth Paulie is a limited fighter who has been found out on the world stage as junior welterweight has developed such strength in depth in recent years. He didn’t have the power to test Khan & therefore never really stood a chance in my eyes..

    Where does Khan go from here – I believe Bradley is too soon for him right now. He needs more ‘ring time’ in order to perfect his all round boxing skills rather as invarably I’d see a battle of that magnitude going the distance. With regard to Maidana, I think this would represent a dangerous challenge & he’s one of those opponents in the ‘dodge at all costs’ bracket, much like Katsidis who showed Kevin Mitchell just how big a step up the world stage can be.

    I think that Ortiz or Alexander would be a sensible step for Khan. I see these 2 fighters on a par with Amir in terms of career progress / pundits kudos & therefore a ’round robin’ would define who is fit to take on Bradley in a unification bout.

    Looking further forward, I’m not sure how much mileage there is in Khan at this weight. I see him stepping up within the next 12 months & we all know there are plenty of career defining fights in the next weight division…

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s