Amazing Amir Cruises to Win No.3!
If there’s ever been a bigger level of hype surrounding a novice professional boxer in recent years, I must have missed it. Amir Khan, the 18 year old Bolton wonder-kid who won an Olympic Silver medal at the 2004 Games, has everyone talking about him. His promoter, Frank Warren, says he’s the best prospect he’s ever had. Don King says he’s the future of world boxing. Ring magazine boldly put him on the cover of their magazine despite the fact that he’d had just one contest at the time. He is most definitely hot stuff.
But can the lightweight-cum-jr welter live up to it in the ring? Well, whilst he is undoubtedly a class act and a big future talent, his third pro success (at the Harrison-Hussein show in Glasgow, Scotland), a 3rd round stoppage over fellow Englishman Steve Gethin, proved that he is most definitely a work-in-progress. The dazzling hand speed was there, the fancy footwork was there, and the magnetic personality was there, but there are clearly things young Amir needs to work on. His opponent, a strong, capable but limited journeyman with a 9-18-2 record, was utterly outclassed from the opening bell as he ambled around the ring after his superstar foe. Khan would leap in, dazzle the crowd with a burst of lighting punches and dance back out as Gethin flailed at thin air. By the third round, Gethin was marked up, and when a more sustained burst rocked his head back, Scottish referee Victor Loughlin quickly jumped in and halted the fight.
The positives? Well, obviously the incredible speed of Khan is his major asset. He glides in and out of range like a ghost, and the speed of his combinations are dazzling. His innate defensive reflexes are good, as evidence in his amateur rematch with Cuban great Mario Kindelan, who could hardly lay a glove on him as the English teenager twisted and ducked his way out of harms way. His ring generalship is also good, commanding the centre of the ring and forcing his opponents back against the ropes.
The negatives? Well, these can’t really be classed as ‘negatives’ at this early stage of his professional career, more as ‘things to work on for the future’. But anyway, here they are: noticeable in the Gethin fight was a tendency to crowd his work. When those dazzling combinations were in full flow, Khan sometimes found himself on top of his opponent, too close to find the target and too close to get enough leverage in the punches. And whilst Khan was unable to score a knockdown, this is more to do with him needing to sit down on his punches than a lack of one-punch power. Sometimes it would be nice to see Khan halt the flurries for a second and throw one or two hard single shots with all his body behind them…it might add a nice highlight-reel KO to his video footage.
All-in-all, though, this is being picky. Khan is a great young talent, and the Scottish fans were suitably thrilled to see him live in action. A final appearance for 2005 will be in December on the big Audley Harrison – Danny Williams bill, and then it’ll be the step up to 6 rounders in the new year.
And who knows…a world title shot in 2007?