By Ryan Maquiñana
It’s fitting that Amir Khan will fight in Las Vegas on Saturday, because his career and perception as a pro has endured all the unpredictable turns of a ball on the roulette wheel.
Dominant wins over Zab Judah and Paulie Malignaggi have been accompanied by shocking stoppage losses to Breidis Prescott and Danny Garcia. The British star has also split a pair of razor-sharp decisions, edging Marcos Maidana and dropping a close bout on points to Lamont Peterson.
Though favored to beat Luis Collazo this weekend, history has shown that the very element that makes Khan one of the most exciting fighters in boxing has arguably been his undoing in his three defeats.
A recurring topic with the public is Khan’s ability to receive punches as well as he gives them. In addition to the aforementioned losses within the distance, Khan is coming off a shaky win over Julio Diaz where he was knocked down in the fourth round before clawing his way to a points win.
With the viability of his chin in question -- especially in light of his desire to fight pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather down the line -- Khan addressed the issue with BoxingScene.com.
“People will always remember you from your last fight. In my last fight against Diaz, I didn’t have any balance,” Khan said. “I was off-balance and he caught me at the right time and he put me down. I wasn’t hurt from it. I came back strong after the knockdown.”
While the Diaz, Prescott and Garcia fights have offered fuel to the notion he has a proverbial glass jaw, fans often forget that Maidana -- the murderous puncher who slugged his way into Saturday’s main event against Mayweather -- failed to floor Khan once over 12 rounds. In addition, neither Peterson nor Judah were able to get the Brit to touch the canvas.
Khan offered his opinion on why the public continues to push the narrative that he’s lacking in punch resistance.
“Look, I’ve been hit by the likes of Maidana, who’s one of the biggest punchers in the division, and I was fine,” he said. “Zab Judah is a big puncher as well. But the thing is, people always remember your last fight, so they think of you being knocked down in my last fight, but I didn’t lose the fight. I mean, I won the fight.
“Same with Garcia. I was stopped on my feet. I was knocked down, but I’ll come back stronger, and I have the biggest heart in boxing, and I’ll never give up.”
With Collazo -- not normally a brawler -- unleashing his power when he knocked out Victor Ortiz, Khan has vowed to prove that his past three camps with trainer Virgil Hunter will keep him upright and ferocious for 12 rounds.
“I think it’s time now where we need to improve the defensive side of boxing,” Khan said. “That’s what we’ve been working on. I know what mistakes I’ve made in the past.”
Khan, a former junior welterweight world titleholder, added that elevating from 140 to 147 pounds has improved his strength, too.
“Making weight was killing me, and I think that was mostly my downfall,” he said. “So I think I’m much more happier at 147, and before, I used to kill myself, and killing yourself makes you weak and you can get hurt quicker from big punches.”
On Saturday, Khan has just the opportunity to display a sturdy set of whiskers and validate his reasoning.
Ryan Maquiñana was the boxing producer for NBCOlympics.com during London 2012 and writes a boxing column for CSNBayArea.com. He is a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and Ring Magazine's Ratings Panel. E-mail him at [email protected], check out his blog at Norcalboxing.com or follow him on Twitter @RMaq28.