By Frank Warren
Last week in Las Vegas despite the fact that most people thought the fights were forgone conclusions it turned out to be a good night of boxing. Amir Khan’s emphatic points win over former WBA welterweight champion Luis Collazo was probably his best performance in the last 3 or 4 years.
However, those predicting he’ll now be the man to finally pop Floyd Mayweather’s bubble are getting ahead of themselves.
Absent from the ring for a year, the Bolton lad certainly profited from extended tuition in the Oakland gym of latest coach Virgil Hunter.
During the hiatus, Khan took time to acclimatize to the welterweight division scientifically. More importantly his chin held firm and he certainly wasn’t exposed for brawn against an opponent who US experts assured us was stronger than Popeye.
Indeed, not only did Amir remain upright for the entire 36 minutes, he managed to dump the rugged New Yorker on the canvas three separate times.
Khan showcased his full arsenal of punches, maintaining a good defence and was focused with his concentration throughout the fight. Collazo was far easier to hit than miss – but this was a really good performance.
But let’s not go over the top and start predicting that he’ll school Mayweather, easily the best fighter of this era.
It’s true that the ‘Money’ man endured his stiffest test for years in the bill topper at the MGM Grand but, for me, that was because opponent Marcos Maidana fought out of his skin.
The Argentine bull showed scant regard for the rules, to bully and rough up Mayweather; closing him down and clumping him with a succession of looping, unorthodox overhand rights.
His marauding tactics saw him become the first man in 14 years to draw blood from Mayweather after a clash of heads.
However, it was nowhere near sufficient to warrant victory and I can only surmise that Florida judge Michael Pernick was distracted ‘star spotting’ the flock of A listers within the ringside cordon.
His 114-114 drawn scorecard bore no resemblance to what transpired between the ropes. Thankfully, the two judges who were paying attention favoured Mayweather by margins of four and six rounds but such discrepancies are becoming far too common in US super fights.
But because Maidana performed more credibly than all had anticipated doesn’t mean that Mayweather is in decline. I certainly didn’t detect deterioration. The delivery of his shots was far cleaner throughout and he handled ‘El Chino’ far more clinically than Khan had in 2010. Yet some are talking as if Mayweather lost the fight!
It’s true that Khan is significantly quicker and better skilled than Maidana but he is a different, tamer animal. It was the intensity of the Argie’s assaults which inconvenienced Mayweather, something Amir can’t replicate. And while Khan brings blistering speed, Floyd is no slow coach himself and possesses far superior timing.
Khan-Collazo was seen as an audition for a mega money fight with Mayweather – the highest earning athlete in any sport – but Khan’s commitment to observing Ramadan this summer will exclude him from being ready for Mayweather’s next scheduled date in September.
The vibe around the business is that Mayweather and Maidana will go again in the autumn with Khan a strong possibility to fill Floyd’s slot for next May.
Maybe not a bad thing. He will probably fight in November and wait another year for Mayweather’s powers to decline, but whether they do or whether he can cause an upset remains to be seen.
The world heavyweight scene had become a tad sterile after years of Klitschko dominance but Brother Vitali’s recent abdication from the WBC throne has left a herd of evenly matched contenders scrambling to assert hegemony.
Tonight, at The Galen Center, Los Angeles, Canada’s Bermane Stiverne and California’s Chris Arreola collide for the vacant belt.
Alabama phenomenon Deontay Wilder – a Beijing Olympic bronze medallist who has blitzed all 31 pro victims inside four rounds – awaits tonight’s winner while Brits Tyson Fury, Dereck Chisora, David Price and possibly even a returning David Haye will all be hoping to feature as a new era unfurls.
Stiverne, a Haitian born Canadian national, scalped the rough but erratic Arreola on points in April 2013 and is my pick to repeat the trick tonight in what should be a lively slugfest. BoxNation provides live coverage from 2am Sunday morning.
The great fight city of Liverpool has produced several more gifted boxers than Derry Mathews – John Conteh and Paul Hodkinson immediately spring to mind – but few can surpass the entertainment quotient that the likeable lightweight has served up during his 11 year, 45 fight pro innings.
A former Junior Olympic gold medallist and ABA bantamweight king, ‘Dirty Derry’ began his paid career under my standard as a teenager in 2003 and quickly romped to the WBU featherweight title. We subsequently went our separate ways amicably.
Blessed with mallet fists and a heart the size of a dustbin lid, the Scouse scrapper advanced to British and Commonwealth titles up at lightweight but his gung-ho mindset brought seven stoppage defeats and stifled his development at crucial points.
However, he could always sell a ticket and late last year we renewed our relationship.
Tonight, at the Olympia in his home city, Mathews endeavours to reclaim his domestic belt against Walsall dervish Martin Gethin. It can only be a thriller.
Chris Eubank Jr and 2012 Olympic skipper Tom Stalker head a fine undercard. BoxNation broadcast live from 7pm.
As a teenage delinquent, Abdul-Bari Awad was banned from travelling on all public transport in Sheffield.
However, a chance meeting with former world champion Prince Naseem Hamed at his local mosque alerted the Qatar born rascal of a more productive avenue for his surplus energy. A decade later, Awad reigns on the European super-bantam throne.
The 24 year old, who goes by the ring name of ‘Kid Galahad’ is the latest in a long stream of champions who owe a huge debt to Dublin born Svengali Brendan Ingle and his sons John and Dominic. Their production line from a converted church hall in Wincobank has already produced four world champions and numerous British and European titles.
Galahad, unbeaten in 16, could follow. Tonight he looks to add the vacant Commonwealth belt to his CV when he confronts Australia’s Fred Mundraby in the Steel City.
A spectacular victory will edge him closer to the showdowns he covets with either Scott Quigg or Carl Frampton. Channel Five televise live.
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Tags: Amir Khan , Floyd Mayweather Jr. , Frank Warren , Derry Mathews , Kid Galahad