By Chris Robinson
So harrowing was Danny Garcia’s 4th round TKO upset over Amir Khan this past weekend, that the boxing world still hasn’t stopped dissecting it. Inside of the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, a sweeping counter left hook from Garcia would drop Khan to the floor, as the British star saw referee Kenny Bayless wave the fight off in following rounds after two more knockdowns.
While Khan now figures to take some time off and go back to the drawing board after his third professional defeat, the undefeated Garcia sees his status bolstered after the biggest triumph of his nearly five-year career. Taking in the action, longtime HBO analyst Larry Merchant feels that Khan came out too aggressive and that it came back to haunt him.
“I thought it was a good fight; it was a real fight,” Merchant would tell me over the weekend. “I liked the fact that the American fighter, the Philadelphia fighter, showed some toughness and smarts and I think that Amir Khan fought out control and paid the supreme price for it.”
True enough, there was a little war of words that took place between the two camps prior to the fight, with most of the venom coming from Danny’s father and trainer Angel Garcia. Khan even went as far as to guarantee a knockout days before the match went down, and Merchant answered whether or not the 25-year old former champion let the gamesmanship get the better of him.
“You know what, I don’t know,” said Merchant. “You never know about that stuff. He’s had those incidents in the past and fought more under control. I think he’s admirably had done everything he could to try and be as good as he could be. He wants to be great but you can’t do it in one night and he was like a line-drive hitter trying to go out and hit home runs in this fight.
“Instead of fighting within himself, with controlled aggression, he seemed to just fight with out-of-control aggression at times,” Merchant continued. “He was in with a guy who could take his punch and who had a really good plan on firing back as soon as he could after Kahn would beat him to the punch. He was tough enough to take Khan’s punches and he was smart enough to counter him.”
The counter left that dropped Khan in the third round was a booming shot and Amir was on wobbly legs every minute thereafter. And despite the turmoil taking place within the squared circle, Khan fought back courageously in the fourth, even taunting Garcia at times, before referee Kenny Bayless decided to call a halt to the action after Garcia scored his third knockdown off of a glancing right hand with thirty-two seconds left in the round.
In Merchant’s eyes, the contest could have gone a little longer.
“I think Amir deserved a little bit more time to show whether he could survive the round and if he did survive the round, whether he had enough composure and enough physical presence to fight back,” Merchant stated. “I just thought that it didn’t look to me like he couldn’t have survived the round. I thought he deserved a chance to show whether he could defend himself or fight back.”
Khan had been flirting with the idea of a move to the welterweight class following his stoppage over Zab Judah last year, with the eventual goal being a crack at undefeated superstar Floyd Mayweather Jr. And while a fight with Floyd is out of reach for the time being, Merchant doesn’t see why Khan can’t have some form of success seven pounds north.
“I think he can fight at 147,” Merchant claimed. “Look, he’s dominated Malignaggi and Judah and it just depends on his state of mind. He was a star amateur, he had a star launching as a pro and he had high expectations of himself. And the question is whether he feels he can go back to Britain and reboot. I think he has to learn to fight within himself. He has to learn how to break a man down and not try to go out looking for home runs.”
Not wanting to leave Garcia out after his incredible moment, I questioned Merchant on what he would want to see from the two-belt holder in the future.
“I like Danny Garcia,” Merchant said. “Philadelphia’s close to my heart. He’s got some Philadelphia toughness in him, he’s got some smarts. There’s nobody certainly in his division I wouldn’t’ want to see him fight and I think there’s time for him to build to a big fight, no matter who that might be against.”
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