By Chris Robinson
This past Saturday night in Las Vegas, there was high drama in the air as bold challenger Danny Garcia pulled off his biggest win as a professional in stopping British star Amir Khan inside of four rounds. A cracking counter left from Garcia would level Khan in the third, with referee Kenny Bayless waving the fight off in the fourth after seeing Amir suffer two more knockdowns.
There was no one who had a better view of the action than HBO color analyst and respected trainer Emanuel Steward, who was ringside inside of the Mandalay Bay Events Center calling the action. Sharing his take on the fight with me recently, Steward revealed that he could see Garcia making adjustments early despite Khan’s strong showing in the opening rounds.
“I thought that Danny, after the first round, he was getting hit with those right hands, he started to take the right hands away from Amir,” Steward stated. “After that, the fight was still, with Amir’s speed and intensity, he was still winning the fight. But Danny just fights the way that Danny always fights; consistent, always right there. Much like he did in the amateurs. Never impressive but steadily winning tournaments.”
The left hook that Garcia leveled Khan with caught him a little bit on his neck and seemed to throw off his equilibrium, as he was clearly on shaky legs after rising. A respectful Steward pointed out that it wasn’t necessarily as much as what Khan did incorrectly as opposed to the former champion simply paying the price for putting his neck on the line.
“I thought that, when Amir got caught, it was nothing that he did wrong,” Steward added. “He didn’t do anything wrong. He was just in the middle of an exchange and Garcia caught him with a shot. From that point on, he did a great job of finishing him, because he never got overexcited and started throwing wild punches. He placed his punches very carefully.”
And even though this setback may look disastrous on the surface, Steward stayed classy while giving Khan his respect.
“I give Amir Khan a lot of credit, being hurt the way he was, he still gave us almost a total of three or four minutes of Gatti-Ward action,” Steward said. “He was fighting the best he could, even though he didn’t have control of his coordination. He was groggy but he still knew what was going on. He was still fighting. He fought all the way through that round and came back the next round and still fought his *ss off again until he was finally stopped. I give him a lot of credit and a whole lot of credit for Garcia being consistent.”
Still only 25 years old, the Garcia fight marks Khan’s third loss as a professional, as he dropped a split-decision to Lamont Peterson this past December while being halting in harrowing fashion by Breidis Prescott in September of 2008. There is an extreme uncertainty as to what the future holds for Khan and at this point it can be hard to see all of the positives that he still has going for himself.
Steward wants to see Khan again but also suggests that he take some time off.
“Everybody in boxing for the most part is writing him off, saying he should quit,” Steward pointed out. “The fact that he’s been hurt so many times this early in his career, I guess this is about the fourth or fifth time now, I think he should take the time off. I think he should fight again. Unlike everyone else said, I didn’t see a weak chin, he just got caught. This just happens. Anytime you’ve got guys exchanging, it happens.”
Well-versed in fine-tuning several world-class fighters in his day, there are some deficiencies that Steward would change if he was handling Khan.
“He’s got to work on one particular punch. Every time I visualize him, I always see him getting hit with clubbing right hands and his body swaying off to the right. Whether it was Lamont Peterson or Maidana or in this fight, even though he was hurt initially with a left look. He needs to work on his boxing and work on building up a defense for right hands. And just settle down; I still think he’s a very good fighter,” stated Steward.
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