Seeing Amir Khan laid out like a flat-packed bookcase on Saturday, with his head propped against the ring post in the style of a teenager watching Batman re-runs on the portable reminded me of one of the first times he came to the public’s attention. Coincidentally, he was mimicking the Zab Judah inspired ‘chicken’ dance he show-cased when hit by a Prescott punch on Saturday following a less formidable left-hook from Craig Watson back in the Amateurs.
Although preciously brief, the video enclosed shows just how little improvement there has been in Amir Khan’s ability to sense impending shots and to hold their weight sufficiently to stop his feet auditioning for River Dance. The similarities between the two knockdowns/knockouts are so striking it only serves to add further weight to the question; what has Khan and his phalanx of associates been working on these past four years?
It may just be Khan is cursed with an inability to take a shot. Another boxing adage laments the fact you cannot put muscles on a chin. You either can or cannot take a punch. Khan clearly cannot and one wonders how the vast holes in his defence have remained untouched despite 18 professional contests and countless hours of instruction considering the calamitous effects of a shot getting through.
Is Khan a poor trainer, one unable to adapt, learn and improve or a fighter so convinced by his own PR that he genuinely believes he simply has to hit the other guy and the fight is over? I don’t think Khan has demonstrated knockout power either, he’s overwhelmed over-matched opponents with flurries and he’s stopped some previously game practitioners but he’s not cold-cocked anyone with a single punch.
In light of Saturday it would be easy to completely deconstruct Khan’s entire style, but the 4-second flash of footage here provides substance to the overwhelming instinct that the former Olympic medalist has failed to build on his natural gifts. He hasn’t improved and on reflection, Frank Warren – for all his critics – has been trying to tell him that publicly, via veiled references, for a long time.
If the echo of his Amateur knockdown, a significant factor in the timing of his move to the professional ranks, isn’t enough – his slow progress, lack of improvement and ultimate exposure also has echos of preceding Olympic medalist, Audley Harrison. For all the fan-fare, neither have yet shown the required fortitude to elevate themselves beyond a domestic scene they’ve both worked hard to avoid.
Like Williams and Sprott for Harrison, mess’s John Murray and Jon Thaxton would both salivate at the opportunities to land Khan offers every opponent and both would have the confidence, technique and power to capitalise.
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