Same Old Problems for Khan – Speed and Chin on Show…
On Saturday night Amir Khan returned to the ring for the second time after a near two year layoff. His previous bout could barely register as a fight, lasting all of 40 seconds, if that fight was as easy as they came and provided a demonstration of Khans blinding speed, as he proved despite turning into his 30’s he still has that hand speed. But if that fight proved Khan still had his speed and attacking instincts, this fight with Samuel Vargas would prove that Khan still has that fragile chin….
The fight started with Khan behaving rather cautiously, he did not explode into action as he did his ring return several months earlier, Khan as he usually does – tested his opponent with the left hook, right cross combo but the round passed without any issues or concerns. Round two the fight suddenly jumped into life, Khan’s speed was on show, Khan isn’t a big puncher but it is the punch you don’t see which hurts the most and when you punch as quickly as Khan does, there will be many times the opponent just doesn’t see the punch coming. Any hopes of the fight ending quickly though were soon put to rest and all the old haunting memories came flooding back. Vargas lined Khan up with a feint to the gloves and then threw the overhand right, Khan reacted in the exact same manner he had when suffering the frightening KO loss to Canelo Alvarez, by leaving the left hand low and leaving his chin exposed, which was promptly rattled by Vargas’ right hand. As Khan went sprawling to the canvas, the stadium and his fans alike must have been fearing the worst. Khan to his credit immediately got back up and thankfully for Khan and his fans, the bell sounded for the end of round two.
Khan was widely expected to despatch of Vargas with ease, but Vargas knew that all he needed was one punch against Khan, in the lead up to the fight he had said as much, commenting that “I just have to land one punch on his chin, left or right hand. His feet will go all over the place and if he’s still there I’ll hit him again and again. It’s there, everyone knows it’s there. Genetically, we’re not supposed to receive that much punishment and get back up. Your body can only take so much before it gives out.” With the bell saving Khan allowing him to get his legs back and regroup his thoughts, normal service was resumed in round three when Khan sent Vargas to the canvas for the second time, although it could be debated the shot was an illegal punch to the back of the head, nevertheless the referee gave Vargas the count. Vargas though did not appear hurt and the ensuing rounds a game of cat and mouse was played – Vargas hot on the heels of Khan who was forced to fight on the back foot, picking Vargas off as he came in but despite opening up cuts on Vargas’ face, the South American was not to be deterred, he continued to charge forward, at one time almost running across the ring to chase Khan, the punches were having little effect on Vargas, if they were he was not showing it, his looks still looked strong, even if his face was bleeding, perhaps the knock down of round two had given Vargas heart, he knew he was one punch away and was content with taking 3,4,5 punches in an effort to land that one more knockout blow. That blow almost came in round ten when Vargas clipped Khan with a left which wobbled the boy from Bolton, but yet again the bell rung and yet again Khan was saved by the bell and the 60 second interval came at exactly the right time.
The championship rounds went mostly the way of the rounds before it, Khans dazzling hand speed was allowing him to keep ahead of Vargas and nip the rounds into the bank, but as with all Khan fights, you never get a boring fight, his speed and vulnerability makes him edge of the seat stuff and he is always a joy to watch. Khan took the final rounds as well and when the scorecards were revealed, they showed an easy and wide points win for Khan, winning by 8,9 and 10 points on the cards of the three judges. The fight was anything but easy for Khan though, he was pressured for the majority of the fight and was rocked on a couple of occasions, the fact he was facing in Vargas a man who had a KO percentage of less than 50% yet suffered another heavy knockdown is worrying for Khan. The fact that Khan wants to be seen as elite and world class yet couldn’t get Vargas out of there, who was soundly beaten by both Danny Garcia and Errol Spence JR, shows that Khan isn’t close to the level he was previously. Make no mistake, Khan would have got Vargas out of there within 6 rounds had this bout been a few years ago. Khan’s punch resistance is worrying and I don’t believe he wants the Kell Brook fight after that performance, Khan will outbox everyone he fights because of his speed, but his questionable chin will throw all of his good work away, against the naturally bigger Brook, it is only a matter of time he gets tagged. Unsurprisingly Khan wants to fight Manny Pacquiao next. Why not? Pacquiao is still a big money fight and is in the twilight of his career, if Khan loses that fight he can still face Brook and make a lot of money, if fights Brook first and loses, then he will unlikely get the pay day he wants against Manny Pacquaio.
In other news on Saturday night, the welterweight division was busy as Khans former conqueror faced off against a man Kell Brook had conquered in the past. Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter faced off in a world title bout with the WBC belt on the line, made vacant by Keith Thurman. Garcia was my favourite to win, I expected him to be too slick for Porter who really relies on pressure, barrelling forward with his head and not using his skills as well as he can. Porter has a great chin and great stamina and that was enough to upset Garcia who tends to rely on his left hand too much, with Porters chin holding up to Garcia’s power, Porter was able to put out a constant march of punches, barely giving Garcia time to breathe, smothering him with his pressure and his punches. The end result was a close win for Porter, who could possibly face the most avoided man in the division next – Errol Spence JR. For Garcia it is back to the drawing board, having turned 30yrs old earlier in the year it will be interesting to see whether he makes any changes to his game, in his two losses it really has been anyone’s fight to win, he could just as easily still be undefeated but perhaps he would benefit from a slightly higher punch output.
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