Posted on 12/12/2010
Amir Khan was pushed to his limits but had all the answers to defeat the very dangerous challenge of Marcos Maidana with a unanimous decision win Saturday night in Las Vegas.
Khan shocked the heavy-hitting Argentine late in round one with two of the best body shots you will ever see, but Maidana made a full recovery in round two.
Khan showed outstanding boxing skills, mobility, straight-punching technique and good defense to take control of the fight. Maidana, the fearsome knockout puncher, was able to connect cleanly but Khan would not crumble. Super coach Freddie Roach advised Khan after round three to limit his offensive thrusts to, “One shot and you’re out,” which Khan smartly followed.
Maidana vented his frustration in round five by swinging his left elbow at Khan on a break and was deducted one point for the foul by referee Joe Cortez.
The fight eventually settled into a matador and the bull pattern, with the matador in charge. I thought this fight resembled Buster Douglas vs. Mike Tyson. Khan, like Buster, landed many spearing slashing shots on Maidana but they did not seem to have significant effect, other than those crippling first round body shots. Maidana began to sound urgent and worried after round six.
In the seventh, Santa Fe’s Maidana landed one of his wild, roundhouse rights on Khan’s left eyebrow but it did not have an effect on the Bolton man. While Maidana continued to hunt down his prey, Khan maintained his perfect gameplan, boxing and pumping out shots, with more passion, energy and ambition. Every punch was accentuated with a loud grunt by Maidana, to add an extra pop to the blows.
After round eight, the stoic, relaxed Maidana – who entered the ring with the cool demeanor of a man on his way to the hotel lobby to request extra towels – showed hints of frustration and confusion in his countenance. The more intense and energetic Khan – who walked to the ring bouncing and punching – was on his way to a dominant win.
But everything changed early in round ten when Maidana landed a long range overhand right. Khan was badly hurt by the bomb and instantly changed course into survival mode. With Maidana chasing him all over the ring and landing several follow-ups, Khan, incredibly, was able to make it out of the round with just a bloody nose. Maidana was so close to finishing it but Khan’s will to win is an extraordinary intangible.
To start the 11th, Khan tried to tap Maidana’s glove, just like he did in the first round, but again Maidana rejected that benevolent idea and immediately resumed his malicious attack. Maidana is a killer and too smart for that kind of trick. Khan later re-establishes himself as he pounds Maidana, who walks right into a perfect right uppercut. Khan seems to regain his confidence in this round and again opens up with his effective combination punching which stymies Maidana’s rhythm and openings to attack.
Going into round 12, Maidana is unmarked but Khan has bruising around both eyes. Maidana tries to destroy his prey again but just can’t do it. Khan opens up again in the last 20 seconds and closes this performance looking exactly like the convincing winner that he is. He raises his arms at the bell, he knows he is still the WBA Super Lightweight champion. Maidana, with head down, walks to his corner. He knows he’s lost this fight and does not even try to con anyone by faking a celebration. All three judges have it close but unanimously for Khan – 114-111 and 113-112.
Said Khan (24-1, 17 KO’s) after: “I made a mistake in my past but now I’m a different fighter. I was hurt by his best shots but I’m still here.”
Maidana (29-2, 27 KO’s): “I thought I won. I thought I did enough in the final rounds but they gave the decision to him. (Asked about a rematch Khan states) I want to fight whoever.”