Amir Khan's Return To The Ring
Ahead of Amir Khan's return to the ring on Saturday night in Los Angeles, where he would be facing lightweight Carlos Molina over a scheduled 12, we had been promised a new-and-improved Amir Khan as he began his rebuilding process under new trainer Virgil Hunter. It wasn't as new-and-improved as had been suggested, but there we're subtle changes.
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It was a must win fight for Khan. A third straight defeat would have left questions as to whether or not he should think about looking at new career path. After five rounds it was clear the fight was going to to the proverbial script. Once the first five frames had gone we witnessed a one-sided beating that reflected the true nature of this bout when it was first announced; a gross mismatch. After the eighth enough was enough and Molina should have been pulled out there and then. It went on for a couple more rounds before the decision was made to withdraw him from the bout at the end of round 10.
The signs of dominance from Khan we're seen as early in the first round when he opened up a cut upon Molina. The speed was too much. That said, in the opening two rounds of Khan's defeat to Danny Garcia we all thought the same. "Khan's speed is too much for Garcia." Then, well, Khan got beat up in the next two rounds before proceedings we're called to a halt. There was still the thought of 'what will happen if Molina hits him?' permeating in the minds of many. The answer was not much. For Molina did hit Khan with left hook and overhand right counters. If it wasn't obvious beforehand it most certainly was after Molina had landed his best punches: Molina had been picked for a reason.
The performance from Khan was fine and, obviously, it was a good result. But it's nothing to get carried away with. He was fighting a lightweight with 7 stoppage wins on his CV.The answer to the question of how much Khan has improved will come against a better opponent who can take his punches and return fire with hurtful ones. It was a win, and that's the most important aspect, but beyond that the confidence this victory brings will no doubt do Khan the world of good. Actually, going by his post-fight interview it would seem that this result had propelled his head back into the clouds again. More on that in a bit.
With Khan linking up with Virgil Hunter there was an intrigue to see what changes we're made in Khan's game. Prior to the fight, going by what was seen in preview shows on Sky Sports, Hunter was focusing on ring awareness for Khan and knowing when and when not to use his speed. There we're adjustments made that we're noticeable, but there wasn't a radical change. For one, and something that has been a hindrance on Khan in previous fights - most notably against Lamont Peterson, Khan displayed some inside fighting and fighting off the ropes. This was something that we hadn't previously seen. It's hard to gauge how beneficial it will prove to be for Amir, but punching back on the inside/off the ropes is a better tactic for him as opposed to allowing his opponents to tee off on him.
Furthermore, Khan was a little more composed in the ring. There was a couple of times where it looked like he wanted to go all out attack but he didn't. While he did control himself better in his attacks, he still stayed in the pocket a little too long. Against better fighters that will cost him as surprisingly, or maybe not to some, one of his biggest flaws is still prevalent. When Khan throws his combinations his chin is still exposed for left hook counters. If he wants to win world titles again, a mixture of protecting his chin when throwing and/or reducing his time spent in the pocket is a necessity.
Contrary to what Khan said in his interview after the fight, he would not have knocked out Danny Garcia had he been fighting him. The polar opposite to that outcome would have happened; Danny Garcia would have knocked out Khan for a second time. The post-fight interview from Khan typifies why I and many others find it hard to warm to him. Entertaining inside the ropes for sure, but when the microphone is thrust into his face it's cringe-worthy stuff. Oh, just for the record, the punch Garcia dropped Khan with, in the third round of their bout, was not a 'lucky punch.'
I have no problem with Khan wanting a rematch with Danny Garcia, but if you ask me it wouldn't be the brightest of ideas for Khan to go into that match-up off the back of this fight. I hope Golden Boy Promotions and Virgil Hunter realise what Amir can't; a rematch with Garcia right now results in another KO defeat.
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