by Cliff Rold
Call him “Terrible” Terry Khan.
Forced into yet another excellent action fight, 25-year old 2004 Olympic Silver Medalist and WBA 140 lb. titlist Amir Khan (26-3, 18 KO) was dropped three times en route to a fourth round stoppage loss at the hands of willing 24-year old WBC titlist Danny Garcia (24-0, 15 KO) in Saturday night’s unification clash at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada. Garcia, from the first round to the last, landed short power shots, building to his moment and the ultimate example of how to beat speed with timing and a willingness to throw at it.
Khan had the WBA belt returned to him when the man who defeated him in his previous outing, Lamont Peterson, tested positive for a performance enhancer. Garcia won the then-vacant WBC belt in a fight with future Hall of Famer Erik Morales in March. Both men entered the ring one pound beneath the division limit at 139 lbs.
The referee was Kenny Bayless.
Khan struck right away with a perfect, fast one-two. Moments later, another right struck to knock Garcia off balance. Garcia, nonplussed, was ready for the next attempt, landing a counter right. In the next exchange, Garcia landed a stiff counter left hook. They continued to look for big shots, Khan’s superior speed producing eye-catching flurries. Garcia responded by going hard to the body with about a minute to go. A Garcia low blow brought a brief break in the action and both men headed to the corners at the bell having made their presence known.
As was the case in the first, round two saw Khan getting off quicker while Garcia made his shots count in between. Khan was warned early in the round for a fairly blatant elbow to the neck. A right from Garcia rocked Khan and forced a clinch in the latter half of the round, but it was Khan opening a cut over the left eye of Garcia.
Garcia’s ‘make it count’ strategy paid off huge in a wild third. Being outpaced again, Garcia went to the body with authority whenever Khan got close. In the final thirty seconds, a perfect counter left hook hammered Khan and Khan went hard to the deck. He beat the count but was badly wobbling as Bayless finished the standing eight. Bayless took a few extra seconds to check Khan out and Khan nodded he could go on. Garcia tried his best to finish but the clock won out and Khan headed back to the corner to be revived.
Khan was still damaged at the bell for the fourth. Garcia jumped right on him and landed a right as Khan turned and attempted to flee. His knee hit the canvas and Bayless ruled another knockdown. Khan took the standing eight, stepped forward, and was blasted with yet another right. Khan wisely clinched, and then took some more rights when space was allowed. Feeling his legs coming back, Khan motioned Garcia forward with his left glove as the crowd roared. Khan landed a big right and Garcia took it, answering with a series of his own.
Khan waved him forward again. Only a minute had gone by.
Two Garcia lefts and a right landed and Garcia was loading up with every shot. Khan was punching back in spots but opting largely to cover as Garcia seemed to slow his attack, wary of growing winded. Inside the final minute, a left and right for Garcia and Khan was without balance, catching himself with his gloves for the bout’s third knockdown. Khan, shaky but nodding and saying he was ok, was not convincing enough for Bayless. Bayless halted the bout at 2:28 of round four.
Garcia was rightly elated with a career best victory. Interviewed in the ring after the fight, Garcia spread the thank you messages to friends, family, and camp. “I always knew I had it in me. I just needed a great fighter in front of me. I feel like the great fighters bring out the best in me. Amir Khan is a great fighter and I knew if I fought him it would bring out the best in me.”
Asked why he feels he hasn’t received many accolades prior to Saturday, Garcia said, “I always been overlooked. Maybe it’s the green eyes, the light skin. I look like a pretty boy. But I’m a killer baby. I’ll fight anyone, anyplace, anytime, like I always do.”
Asked about the future, Garcia didn’t name names but simply said he wants to “fight the best.” It’s unlikely his chances will be overlooked going forward.
Khan was classy in defeat, his second by stoppage. “It just wasn’t my night. Made a few mistakes in there, got caught with the left hook…I paid my price.” Khan’s problems with punch resistance, evident throughout his career, cost him again but made for another scintillating night of action.
Both will be welcome back anytime.
The card was broadcast in the U.S. by HBO as part of its “World Championship Boxing” series, promoted by Golden Boy Promotions.
Cliff Rold is a Managing Editor at BoxingScene, and a member of the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]