Friday, May 13, 2022

Amir Khan could have been England’s Joe Calzaghe if he only had a chin

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Khan retires with 34 wins on his record, but also suffered six losses – including five by knockout – which many will see as a damning charge

After 40 fights, of which he has won 34, including world titles in two weights, plus an Olympic silver medal after an unprecedented trip to the Olympic finals in Athens, Khan made one of his better decisions to end his spectacular contribution to the sport.

Amir Khan was arguably a mustache from being the greatest boxer Britain has produced. Had his chin been anywhere near as sturdy as his heart, Khan might have made a Joe Calzaghe and continued an unbeaten career.

Five of the six losses in his record came against world-class boxers. The other, his first, Breidis Prescott took on a world-class puncher and heralded the error in his otherwise impressive armory.

Against Saul Alvarez and most recently Kell Brook, Khan was outmatched by bigger men, but the money was too good to turn down. Terence Crawford was just too good a point. He underestimated Danny Garcia. And Lamont Peterson was later shown to have used performance-enhancing drugs after pressuring Khan through a split decision.

As an amateur, Khan was unrivaled until he met Cuba’s two-time world champion Mario Kindelan in the 2004 Olympic final. Khan was only 17 years old. He beat adult men twice his age from the boxing territories of Kazakhstan and beyond to qualify for Athens believe Britain almost lost him to Pakistan so reluctant were the selectors to embrace the supernova in their midst.

Khan was Britain’s only boxer at those games. His silver medal provided the funding that would pay for Britain’s rise to the top of the amateur game, a nation capable of taking on the Russians, Americans and Cubans at the Games to follow. His rise was all the more remarkable for the British Asian background from which he came.

Khan noted in his autobiography, A Boy From Bolton, that he never met another British Asian while boxing in junior competitions from Mick Jelly’s Bury ABC.

And the year he turned pro, 2005, he was thrust into the center of the War On Terror crisis facing the Western Alliance when three British Pakistanis his age unleashed one of the deadliest acts of terrorism Britain has encountered on the London transport network has experienced .

Khan showed great courage in condemning the attacks and distancing his community from the terrorists at a time when British Pakistanis were easy targets for right-wing reactionaries.

Of his great nights, and there were many, stand out victories over Devon Alexander, Zab Judah and Marcos Maidana, the latter being one of the bravest performances by a Brit on American soil. Khan had brought Maidana down on the first lap and passed him in the early laps only for the relentless Argentine to fight his way back into the competition. Khan exceeded any measure of bravery to stay on his feet in the 10th and rallied to retain his WBA light welterweight title. What a night. What a fighter.

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