By Lyle Fitzsimmons
Given the ferocity of my Twitter feed and the incendiary nature of the items in my email inbox these days, I’m taking it no one else was all that impressed with Amir Khan on Friday night in Brooklyn.
That’s OK. I’ve sort of gotten used to reveling in my own company.
To me, at least, the 28-year-old Englishman did exactly over 12 rounds what he needed to do in order to cement his place as the next in line for Floyd Mayweather Jr. come this September in Las Vegas.
He punched in combination. He moved effectively. And he landed shots that were stinging enough – albeit hardly incapacitating – to dissuade a more rugged version of Chris Algieri than anyone expected.
I had it 115-113 for Khan and could have been swayed to make it 116-112. And though I’ll concede that scores of 117-111 might have been a tad extreme, it was far less criminal to see nine of 12 rounds go for Khan than it would have been to award six or more to Algieri, just because he didn’t run or fall down.
This just in, folks. Losing less decisively than people anticipated doesn’t mean that you won.
As for those up in arms that the welterweight trifecta of Luis Collazo, Devon Alexander and Algieri might parlay Khan into a “Money” match – step away from your Tweet Deck to consider some reality.
Though he’s neither a member of the belted fraternity like Kell Brook, nor pulsing with violent momentum like Keith Thurman, Khan has been in with more name foes across two weight classes than either of them have faced in one – and it’s that brand recognition, as much as whether anyone considers him more of a threat to Mayweather than others – that’s going to put him at the front of the line.
Yes, he was vaporized in less than a minute by Breidis Prescott. And yes, he didn’t last four rounds with Danny Garcia. But if you ask anyone other than a hardcore partisan of the Colombian or the Philadelphian which of the trio is more marketable to the global masses – it’s Khan by a landslide.
Playing to packed rooms in London, Manchester and New York will do that for a guy.
And call me crazy, but I’m also among the few who think he’ll give “Money” all he wants.
Lest anyone forget, Algieri was the ninth future, current or former champion that Khan has defeated, and he did so using a range of athletic acumen not possessed by any recent Mayweather opponent who didn’t claim to be competitively debilitated by injury within 60 minutes of a one-sided loss.
He’s beaten two of the men – Zab Judah (KO 5) and Marcos Maidana (UD 12) – lauded for giving Floyd two of his more challenging fights, and, since a fourth-round fall against Julio Diaz two years ago, has stayed vertical for 44 straight rounds while suffering little more than irritation on the receiving end of blows from Collazo (19 KOs in 36 wins), Alexander (14 KOs in 26 wins) or Algieri (8 KOs in 20 wins).
Mayweather, incidentally, hasn’t dropped a fully attentive opponent since 2009, and is typically considered a pound-for-pound elitist far more for a virtuoso defense than a violent disposition.
Against a guy who appears capable of 36 minutes of activity with two functioning shoulders, that shoulder-rolling mindset might well meet its center-ring Waterloo. In terms of youth vs. age, frame it as Jermain Taylor and Bernard Hopkins … circa 2005. The young athlete against the older genius.
“Floyd has never seen a fighter with that much hand speed,” analyst Antonio Tarver, a former two-division world champion, said after Friday’s fight, “and a guy that’s intelligent in the ring like Amir Khan.”
Thanks, AT. Couldn’t have said it better myself.
See ya in September, Twitter peeps.
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This week’s title-fight schedule:
WBC minimum title – Bangkok, Thailand
Wanheng Menayothin (champion/No. 3 IWBR) vs. Jerry Tomogdan (No. 25 WBC/No. 46 IWBR)
Menayothin (37-0, 12 KO): Second title defense; Sixteenth scheduled 12-round bout (15-0, 5 KO)
Tomogdan (17-5-3, 9 KO): First title fight; Third fight outside the Philippines (0-2, 0 KO)
Fitzbitz says: I’ll confess to having not thought much of the champion before he won his belt, but I think even less of a challenger who’s spent most of his career feasting on creampuffs. Menayothin in 8
IBO light heavyweight title – Kempton Park, South Africa
Thomas Oosthuizen (champion/No. 6 IWBR) vs. Robert Berridge (No. 30 IBO/No. 27 IWBR)
Oosthuizen (24-0-2, 14 KO): First title defense; Sixth fight above 168 pounds (5-0, 2 KO)
Berridge (26-2-1, 21 KO): First title fight; Ninth fight outside New Zealand (5-2-1, 5 KO)
Fitzbitz says: I was a fan of Oosthuizen’s at 168 before he convinced me (against Brandon Gonzales) not to be, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise at 175. Oosthuizen by decision
WBC middleweight title – Brooklyn, N.Y.
Miguel Cotto (champion/No. 1 IWBR) vs. Daniel Geale (No. 6 WBC/No. 3 IWBR)
Cotto (39-4, 32 KO): First title defense; Twelfth fight in New York (10-1, 6 KO)
Geale (31-3, 16 KO): Eleventh title fight (7-3); Third fight in the United States (0-2, 0 KO)
Fitzbitz says: I think Cotto wins, but maybe not easily. Either way, I’m just curious to see how reserved HBO is with its praise, considering it’s gone all-in with Golovkin at middleweight. Cotto by decision
Last week's picks: 3-2 (WIN: Selby, Brook, Tanaka; LOSS: Melindo, Mitchell)
2015 picks record: 36-9 (80.0 percent)
Overall picks record: 675-232 (74.4 percent)
NOTE: Fights previewed are only those involving a sanctioning body's full-fledged title-holder – no interim, diamond, silver, etc. Fights for WBA "world championships" are only included if no "super champion" exists in the weight class.
Lyle Fitzsimmons has covered professional boxing since 1995 and written a weekly column for Boxing Scene since 2008. He is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Reach him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter – @fitzbitz.