A “Khan Job” in D.C.? Not So Fast


by Charles Jay

Was Amir Khan the victim of “home cooking” as was suggested by a crew of HBO announcers who had much more of an interest in Khan winning Saturday night’s fight than the eventual winner, Lamont Peterson?

I’m going to suggest that was not the case. Not the case at all. In fact, the promoters added their share of ingredients to this as well.

So much of what the general public says after a fight like this – and through the emergence of the internet we can actually see it in real time – is shaped by what the announcers say. And thus, it was convenient to hang Khan’s loss, which has probably screwed up HBO’s plans, for a little while anyway, on the referee from Peterson’s hometown of Washington D.C., who took two points away from Khan during the fight for “pushing.”

Let’s back things up a bit so we can arrive at the genesis of all this.

Did you wonder how the fight wound up in our nation’s capital? It’s not because of the magnetism of Lamont Peterson, or the leverage he wielded as a result. Really, it’s because other places didn’t want the fight.

Boxing promoters are whores, and I say that in the most affectionate way possible. They go where the dollars are. Believe me, this fight would have been placed elsewhere; perhaps somewhere Golden Boy could have gotten a site fee, but the fact is, no one wanted it that badly. So they went to the place they figured they could draw a crowd, since Khan himself can’t really carry it over here in the States just yet.

That’s how they wound up with Washington D.C., and the D.C. commission.

Maybe it could have been worse. The commission could have absolutely insisted on having its own judges (assuming they had any), for all I know, and they probably could have gotten the backing of the Association of Boxing Commissions. Wouldn’t that have been a lot of fun? As it is, the out-of-town judges apparently got through the vetting process of the promoters, and as far as I can tell, HBO’s Harold Lederman. Hell, you heard about them before the decision was read. They were all A-OK as far as Harold was concerned.

But I guess nothing could be done about the referee, which is how we wound up with a guy from Virginia (that boxing hotbed) by the name of Joe Cooper, who got a lot of heat from Khan’s backers by taking not one, but two points away from the “champ” for pushing, which constituted the difference between a Khan defeat and a draw (where Khan would retain his title) on the scorecards.

“Home cooking” was a theme of the post-fight commentary from all three of the HBO crew. But I want to tell you something HBO did not give Cooper enough credit for, and should have.

They did not give him sufficient credit for being incompetent enough to make calls (or miss them, as it were) that benefited BOTH sides.

In other words, in a city that probably has a larger “liberal” population than any other, he was truly an equal-opportunity official.

Sure, he took that first point from Khan without a stern warning that may have been seen as conventional in boxing circles, but certainly not the second one. You see, in circles where people speak in terms of logic, taking away that first point should have served, by definition, as a warning not to do it again, lest face further penalty.

Of course, it’s an entirely different matter as to whether “it” was serious enough to take points away, but the way I look at it – and the way HBO might want to look at it – if they got what they retroactively called for, which was a more competent referee, he would have probably wound up penalizing Khan somewhere along the way for repeatedly holding Peterson behind the head, something that became more and more blatant as it appeared Peterson was not going quietly. Also, I wonder whether Peterson would have had the burden of a point taken away for a knockdown, on something that could have easily been called a slip.

And Khan, plainly and simply, got away with an offense that could have gotten him disqualified. When Cooper moved in to take the second point away (at least that’s what my impression was), Khan looked over and actually acknowledged him coming in between the fighters, and as he was in the process of obstructing Peterson, Khan decided to uncork a cheap-shot right uppercut, which nailed Peterson.

So Khan himself got a gift or two. Or more.

He should really stop crying and just get better.

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