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HBO World Championship Boxing Preview: Amir Khan vs. Danny Garcia

By: William Holmes

Amir Khan fought in one of the most exciting bouts of 2011 when he lost a close decision to Washington DC’s Lamont Peterson. They were originally scheduled to rematch this summer, but the bout was canceled when Peterson tested positive for steroids.

Khan, to his credit, decided to take on Philadelphia native and current WBC Junior Welterweight Champion Danny Garcia. There were other, easier options out there for him, but since Garcia is a title holder and is also represented by Golden Boy Promotions, the bout that was made for this upcoming Saturday at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, Las Vegas.

The undercard features five undefeated prospects in Phil Lo Greco, Daquan Arnett, Jamie Kavanagh, Abner Cotto and J’Leon Love. Fernando Guerrero, who holds a record of 23-1, will also be on the undercard.

Unfortunately for fight fans, it appears these prospects will not be shown on HBO unless Saturday’s main event finishes early.

Danny Garcia (23-0) vs. Amir Khan (26-2); WBC & WBA Junior Welterweight Championship

Amir Khan is a heavily hyped fighter, but he has the talent to back up the hype.

Khan was born and raised in England but has a Pakistani heritage, has an extensive amateur career. He completed in the 2004 Summer Olympics and won a silver medal at the age of 17 in the lightweight division.

Khan began boxing in the lightweight division, and his first real test came in 2009 against the elder Marco Antonio Barrera. Khan won the fight when it went to the
score cards after Barrera suffered a cut from a clash of heads. Khan took on Andrea Kotelnik in July of 2009 for the WBA light welterweight title and won it easily.

Khan left Frank Warren in 2010 and signed with Golden Boy Promotions, and he went on an impressive four-fight win streak against Paulie Malignaggi, Marcos Maidana, Paul McCloskey, and Zab Judah.

It was Khan’s fight with Judah in which he was the most impressive. Khan was able to confuse his opponent with in-and-out movement and superior hand speed and power, vanquishing Judah in the fifth round. Khan, who is trained by Freddie Roach, is an aggressive fighter who likes to stay on the offensive. He also has legitimate power: 18 of his victories have come by way of KO or TKO.

Danny Garcia also has a deep amateur boxing background, but he does not have the amateur experience of Amir Khan.

He did not compete in the Olympics as an amateur, but he had a 107-13 amateur record and was the 2006 U.S. National champion.

Garcia made his professional debut in 2007, and has fought a majority of his fights in the light welterweight division. He has had prior exposure on big cards, as he had fought on the undercards of Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Bernard Hopkins bouts.

Garcia can be flat-footed at times, and he doesn’t have extensive power. He only has 14 KO or TKO wins out of his 23 victories.

Garcia’s first real test came in 2011 against an aged Nate Campbell, which he won by decision, and he then fought the much tougher Kendall Holt four months later. Garcia beat Holt by a split decision in a close bout, a victory showed that Garcia was no longer a prospect but a legitimate contender.

Garcia won the WBC Light Welterweight title by decision over Erik Morales in March of 2012. Morales is a Hall of Famer, but Garcia did not beat Morales in impressive fashion. Morales was years past his prime when he fought Garcia, and he was also fighting several weight classes above the weight he fought at when he was in his prime.

If Garcia is going to beat Khan, he would be wise to follow the blueprint of Lamont Peterson. Peterson was able to pressure Khan with a consistent body attack and kept the fight in close. Garcia won’t beat Khan if he stays on the outside and tries to box with him. He might be able to expose the chin of Khan like Breidis Prescott did in 2008 with a lucky punch, but he’d be wise to pressure Khan from corner to corner like Peterson did.

However, Amir Khan will simply bring too much to the table on Saturday night for Danny Garcia to handle. Garcia has never faced the level of competition that Khan brings to the ring, and he can’t match the power or speed of Khan.

Khan isn’t the mentally strongest boxer in the world, but he should pull out a victory on Saturday. If he defeats Garcia, expect Khan to jump up to the welterweight division.

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