Amir Khan – Where to go from here?
By Daniel Arissol
Amir Khan entered the newly built T-Mobile arena in Las Vegas on May 7th attempting to defy the majority of the boxing fraternity by upsetting the odds and defeating Mexico’s star fighter and, in doing so, rip away the WBC middleweight crown and bring it back to his home town of Bolton, England. His plan was effective. He was lightning fast with his single punches, efficient in his combos and his movement was elusive. He was seeming to prove to everyone in world boxing that his tactics were perfect and that he could upset the odds. He could win this fight from the outside relying on his speed and movement to hit Canelo and evade the big shots hailing from Guadalajara’s favourite son. He held his own, until a devastating overhead right in round 6. Many pundits began with the ‘I told you so’ which began with Canelo’s power and ended with Khan’s glass jaw. However, he did fight bravely, intelligently and showed willing to succeed… and was fairly successful. Khan won the first 2 rounds, arguably the 3rd and Canelo only really took the fight to Khan and began to gain the upper hand during the 5th round. With the sixth round came the crushing overhead right that not only ended the brits chances of gaining the green strap but also leaves his career in a possible limbo.
Khan (31-4-0 19ko’s) has already stated his desire to return to the welterweight division where WBC champion, Danny Garcia (32-0-0 18ko’s), awaits after the WBC declared Khan his mandatory challenger regardless of the Canelo outcome. The Bolton man would relish the opportunity to not only fight for another world title but also avenge his 2012 KO loss to Garcia when he relinquished his WBA super lightweight title. Many expect that this would be a closer fight the second time around and many ask whether he is even worthy of another title shot so soon. Other options out there for Khan could be the winner of Thurman v Porter, Timothy Bradley, Errol Spence or the big domestic showdown with IBF champion Kell Brook.
Brook was quick to call Khan after the Canelo loss but Khan has gone on record saying he has no intention to fight the Sheffield star anytime soon. Kell himself is having problems in his quest to face a top welterweight in the division, especially as he wants to be known in the US as a major world champion. He did overcome the brawling Porter without really coming out of his comfort zone and, that being said, the Porter camp didn’t exactly beg for a rematch. Khan V Brook seems like a match up that will happen at some point down the line but, for now, the Garcia fight seems to be already in motion whilst Brook seems likely to face WBO king Jessie Vargas (27-1-0 17ko’s).
So, what have learnt about Amir in his last fight? He is not afraid to step up to challenge. His lightning speed was still apparent at a higher weight. He can still be open to errors which can, at worst, end up with him picking himself up from the canvas. His trainer, Virgil Hunter, has worked wonders with his defence and tactics and it would be hard to see him be trained by anyone else at this critical stage of his career.
But the question still stands… Where does Amir Khan go from here? If Amir is looking to secure a legacy in the sport, then he needs titles. The Garcia fight should be his first port of call, followed by the Kell Brook fight. If Khan beats Garcia he has options. If he loses, there will only be one welterweight ready to offer him a big title clash, Kell “the special one” Brook. Brook may very well be the IBF and WBO champ by this stage so that makes this a huge unification match up. That being said, in the UK many fight fans believe Brook to be the superior fighter who, as yet, doesn’t get the respect he deserves. The potential matchup is mouth-watering and with the UK fans putting pressure on Khan to agree to the fight, he may have little option but to fight the man he has been avoiding for years.