Amir Khan: He came, he fought, he lost
It was effectively over as a contest right then; Khan never really recovered from that explosive left counter hook.
There was a lot of hype before the fight, and rightly so too, considering all that was riding on it. Two titles were on the line: the World Boxing Council (WBC) light welterweight title held by Danny ‘swift’ Garcia and the World Boxing Association (WBA) light welterweight throne that was restored to Amir ‘king’ Khan just last week.
Khan got the title back because the WBA overturned the loss to Lamont Peterson in December. Peterson had defeated him in controversial fashion and Khan had subsequently expressed his feelings about being cheated. Later Peterson was found guilty of using banned substances, which resulted in the WBA reverting the loss. However, officially, it will still be a loss on Khan’s record. Why this is so,is beyond me, but those decisions are made by the International Boxing Federation, and they decided not to follow the footsteps of the WBA in overturning the result.
In addition to the pressures of the titles and the fact that Khan had lost his previous bout, at the main pre-fight press conference there was a lot of trash talk, mainly between Khan and Danny’s father and trainer Angel Garcia. The father is known for being eccentric, and he did not disappoint this time either. He even made unsavoury comments about Khan’s Pakistani heritage ─ Khan was born in Britain, but both his parents were born in Pakistan.
“I promise you – I’ve never said this at a press conference – I will knock Danny Garcia out and win the title,” said infuriated Khan.
“That will shut his dad up. I cannot wait until after the fight, when I've knocked his son out and I'm standing here with the titles. It’s funny when he said he’s never seen a Pakistani fight. He’s going to see a Pakistani fight, and knock his son out. I can’t wait to get in there.”
Come July 14, both of them would have been pumped, regardless of whatever had been said and done in the build up to the fight. However, judging by the body language, Khan looked slightly more confident than Garcia and was the favourite, despite the Latino never having lost in his 23 previous fights. It was a fight that Khan had in his grasp from the start, winning the first two and a half rounds; his hand speed and combination punching made him seem a class apart from his American-born opponent.
Garcia, however, kept his cool and kept coming forward behind a tight defense. You could see that his punches were powerful and dangerous, but just didn't find the target. And when Khan presented him with a chance, he took it with both hands (pun intended), landing a devastating left hook on Khan's jaw. It might have been a blind shot, but Garcia knew any contact and Khan would be reeling. Although the bout officially lasted another round, it was effectively over as a contest right then and Khan never really recovered from that explosive blow.
Garcia is known for that left counter hook of his - the same one he used against Erik Morales. So credit to Khan for getting back up and trying to fight, but Garcia is excellent at counter-punching and Khan did not recover.
This loss - I refrain from calling it an annihilation due to my sympathies for Khan being one of ‘us’ - coupled with his Lamont Peterson loss in December has set Khan back a long way. Before the fight, he was talking about moving up to the welterweight category and taking on Floyd Mayweather, but whereas previously it was a question of when he would make the jump now it is if he will.
Two losses in a row - with one of them a fourth round technical knockout - is not what you expect to see from the best. I sincerely hope that Amir Khan does recover from this setback but he will need to go back to Bolton, England and work really hard to get back up there to be able to challenge the best.
The victorious Garcia, on the other hand, has firmly established himself as one of the best in his weight division. He has extended his phenomenal unbeaten record to 24 wins and can now look forward to fighting with the best out there.
Exciting times lie ahead. Can Garcia go on and establish himself as one of the greats?
Will Khan be able to comeback better and stronger?
Only time will tell.
Follow Kabeer on Twitter @dkab91