News Amir Khan is to face Luton’s Graham Earl on December 8th has already been widely reported but coupled with the forthcoming fight in Nottingham, opponent unconfirmed and the recent victory over Willie Limond – 2007 could yet prove to be a fruitful one for the country’s most well known professional.
Graham Earl ran into an antipodean brick wall in Michael Katsidis last time out but remains an established figure at the head of the British lightweight s. Jon Thaxton has the belt, but Earl is arguably more advanced on the world scene than his compatriot despite the reverse to Katsidis. Who himself just prevailed in a ‘life and death’ slug-out with Czar Amonsot.
By comparison with less touted prospects like Jorge Linares, who emerged emboldened from victory over Mexican veteran Oscar Larios a weekend or two ago and as the WBC featherweight champion, Khan’s progress looks pedestrian. Similarly, the fighter to whom he’s frequently, and clumsily, compared – Prince Naseem Hamed – his development is painfully slow.
However, every fighter is an individual. His renown make him a more precious commodity than his Argentinian contemporary and few fighters carry the power Hamed administered in his fledgling career – it was easier to be brave with Hamed, who also didn’t have the exposure, pressure and fan scrutiny Khan has enjoyed and endured.
His performance versus Limond told everyone a great deal about Khan’s ability and development. He showed grit and endurance but, in equal measure, he also showed vulnerability to clustered punches, a lack of head movement and a bucket full of naivety when floored. It might not suit the agenda’s of all but Frank Warren is right to move him slowly.
Despite the reservations about his progress, and is a topic on which most boxing fans have an opinion, victory in Nottingham – against presumably, a less sturdy foe than Limond – and against Graham Earl in December, will add much needed substance to Khan’s international credentials.
Victory over Earl isn’t a formality but it has the look of a bout picked because of the natural suspicion the former British champion is ripe for the plucking following a long career and a pummelling at the fists of Katsidis.
Whatever his weakness or aspirations, Earl is a gutsy, tough, rounded professional and will presumably be in terrific shape for the match-up.
Last hoorah or not.