By Kevin Francis, courtesy of The Daily Star
AMIR KHAN is on course to become the English version of the legendary Oscar De La Hoya.
Who says so? Why, none other than De La Hoya, who co-promoted Amir Khan’s latest defence of his WBA light-welterweight title against Paul McCloskey.
The 24-year-old Khan claimed a controversial win over the gritty Ulsterman with a unanimous points verdict following a clash of heads that left McCloskey with a cut in the sixth round.
Referee Luis Pabon decided to stop the fi ght there and then with Khan winning on points at the MEN Arena.
That was after the ringside doctor had unusually climbed between the ropes – leading to amazing scenes.
Once the dust had settled, ‘Golden Boy’ De La Hoya predicted even more glory for Khan, who is now heading for a unifi cation bout with Tim Bradley.
Bradley holds the WBC and WBO world titles and the pair are likely to meet in Las Vegas in July.
De La Hoya has every faith in 24-year- old Khan coming up trumps in that fi ght to hammer home his reputation of being one of the most exciting fi ghters around.
De La Hoya, who won 10 world titles at six different weights, is one of boxing’s all-time greats and a confirmed fan of Khan.
He said: “Amir is going to be one of the very best. We’re going to be able to call him great in the near future because he’s going at a pace where he wants to fi ght everybody.
“He wants to unify the titles. I’ve said this before and I see some of myself in him. He can be Britain’s ‘Golden Boy’.
“Now we’re looking at what’s in the future for Amir Khan and the future is unifying the titles. He can do it, too, because he is just so good.
“I believe he will become one of Britain’s best-ever fighters, if not the best – and I know you’ve had a lot of great fi ghters down the years.
“Time will tell, but from what I see he will be among the greats in the near future. He has everything going for him.
“I think he would do great against Bradley. Fighting a leftie fighter is very awkward, very diffi cult, but Amir has all the ability in the world.
“Fighting here in front of his home fans, Amir had added pressure and he wanted to knock the guy out. I can understand that. But against Bradley, I think he will do great.”
Khan could have done without the controversy that surrounded this latest win, with McCloskey’s camp in a furious mood.
They complained that the clash of heads was not accidental and objected to the fact that the doctor had leapt into the ring.
McCloskey’s promoter Eddie Hearn immediately objected and said the British Boxing Board of Control would be investigating.
Hearn said: “I asked Robert Smith (general secretary) if he thought the fi ght should have been stopped and he said, ‘No’. “I am writing to him and he said if I do that he will take it to the WBA for an investigation in order to get an explanation.
“Basically, we were robbed by ineptitude. OK, Khan may have gone on to win but that is not the point. It should not have been stopped.
“I just don’t know why the doctor jumped into the ring.
“It was a disgrace- ful call he made.
“OK, Paul was cut but I have seen much, much worse.”