So it seems that Amir Khan is set to get another shot at Lamont Peterson after losing his IBF and WBA titles in Washington DC last month. This could prove to be the revival of British boxing, which has seen the number of world champions from the United Kingdom reduced to just one – WBO Light Heavyweight champion Nathan Cleverly. But I can’t help and feel that this news is tainted by the way Khan acted following his ‘controversial’ defeat.
The aftermath of the fight reminded me of post-fight scenes following David Haye’s defeat to Wladimir Klitschko in July 2011. Khan immediately slammed the referee for deducting points twice for fouling, and the man from Bolton made it clear he felt the fight was an example of a home town decision. In other words, he made excuses.
The controversy has been concentrated around the two point deductions that left Khan behind on two of the judges’ scorecards. In addition to this, recent debate has circled around the ‘mystery man’ seen at ringside allegedly communicating to fight officials and then ‘celebrating’ with Peterson after the fight.
However I’ve chosen to look beyond such excuses. Rather, what can be said of Khan’s performance? What does this defeat tell us about his future and of the abilities of trainer Freddie Roach?
Khan started as fast as ever and put Peterson down in the first round. But as the fight wore on, Khan began to let Peterson back into contention. He’d often lie on the ropes allowing the Washington fighter to wind up big hooks, and when Khan did pull it together and managed to land his quick combinations, it would be cancelled out by another few lazy rounds from the Brit. It gave me the impression Khan felt he could do a bit of work here and there, taunt his opponent, let himself get hit, and still win. In other words he treated Peterson as a subordinate fighter. This was seen in the build up the fight as well, as Khan answered seemingly more questions on a future fight with Floyd Mayweather than about the match at hand.
I began also to question just how effective Freddie Roach is as a trainer. For me, it seems Khan doesn’t go into fights with a game plan. Rather, he relies solely on his speed by stepping in with quick combinations, then jumping out of range in all of his contests. Peterson was able to exploit the fact the former champion can’t seem to adapt to high pressure tactics – as seen against Marcos Maidana who had Khan hurt in Las Vegas – by cutting off the ring and getting close to the Bolton man. Likewise, Manny Pacquiao seems to be effective when he’s pumping out fast punches in bunches, but what else? The Pac-Man’s recent performance against Juan Manuel Marquez left many wondering if the Filipino superstar would remain successful for much longer. I wonder where the versatility in these two fighters? What I conclude is that these two men are likely to be beaten again before they hang up the gloves – possibly both at the hands of Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather. Should therefore should Freddie Roach be blamed for not producing more diverse fighters – ones who are capable of walking into fights with the ability to switch tactics when needed?
Ultimately if Khan had fought a better fight this debate about a rematch wouldn’t be happening. I feel the referee acted fairly and had Khan not continuously fouled he would of run out a clear winner. Furthermore, the release of footage showing the ‘mystery man’ at ringside seemed somewhat desperate to me – an attempt by Khan’s camp to find some form of evidence to support this apparent indignation.
Now Khan will have the chance to prove that this farce was all worth it. British boxing needs Amir Khan – a young, ambitious and talented fighter. But perhaps this fight should act as a warning sign for Khan. Maybe time spent refining his boxing abilities rather than fabricating a controversy would be more beneficial.