News December 2011

Does Ricky Burns now eclipse Amir Khan ?

12.12.12

By @livefight

Ricky Burns: Two weight champ

Many UK pound for pound lists feature Amir Khan jostling for top spot with Carl Froch and David Haye. But given their last two performances it would be unfair to exclude Scotland's Ricky Burns from the mix.

Burns, written off by the lion's share of the public against Michael Katsidis - fought to all his strengths in his 135lb debut last month at the new Wembley Arena. Using his excellent jab, long reach and cool head he completely dominated the Aussie until the final bell.

Bull-strong Katsidis was speared by the jab constantly, was outboxed from the outside and given plenty to think about from the inside. It was a tremendous victory and one that I was happy to lose out at the bookies over.

With two defeats on his ledger as a younger fighter juggling a full time job, against the likes of a prime Alex Arthur and then against Carl Johanneson - Ricky suffered more from a lack of experience and confidence, than ability.

Nobody would write Ricky off if he were to rematch either of the above and he would deservedly be a massive favourite with the bookmakers too. At 28 years of age he was matured into a man both physically and mentally. With a solid coach and great approach to the sport he has gone from an above ordinary fighter, to a serious contender in a packed division.

Meanwhile Amir Khan has seemingly regressed in recent outings.

Khan who started out at super-featherweight (where Burns fought often) quickly moved up to the lightweight division and was quickly being labelled as a domestic-ducker for failing to engage the likes of John Murray and even withdrew from a mandated purse bid against British champion at the time, John Thaxton.

Foreign imports quickly made up the rota for Khan before an arguably hand-picked opponent in Breidis Prescott arrived in the UK. Many boxing fans were angry that Khan was now to be shown on pay per view. His promoter Frank Warren didn't seem overly keen on that route either, but it would seem that to meet Khan's pay demands it was the only vehicle to make it happen.

Many gave the show a wide berth, but those who did tune in were witness to one of the most devastating losses ever witnessed involving a British fighter since the sport began. Prescott threw bombs from the opening bell, clubbing Khan to the floor whom rose like a scarecrow blowing around in the wind. The referee seemed in shock himself and couldn't halt this "superstar" without giving him a chance to fire back. But the referee's input was not needed as only seconds later Prescott utterly demolished Khan.

"Back to the drawing board" said a concussed Khan from ringside, who quickly fired his new Cuban trainer only a matter of weeks from sacking his original trainer Oliver Harrison.

A cut Barrera denied rematch

With that Khan engaged in confidence building fights against relatively poor opposition. A wrinkly little (but still game) Barrera, Fagan and Salita - until an opportunity was purchased for Khan against Andry Kotelnik whom Khan respectfully described as "the world's worst champion."

A very unimaginative display of hit and run brought Khan the WBA 140lb title, along with a wave of criticsm. The safety first approach to protect the chin that was dented by Gomez and Limmond, then smashed to pieces by Prescott, drew little plaudits from the boxing public.

Following a spat with the media Khan split with Warren to make more money for himself Stateside, by now training with Freddie Roach.

Khan began a renaissance period of fights with the feather-fisted Paulie Malignaggi for his New York debut, before Marcos Maidana literally gatecrashed the party (and the WBA's headquarters) to make Amir Khan defend the title that Maidana rightfully had the chance to fight for.

Khan and Maidana dazzled the small audience in attendance. The quick hands of Khan made Maidana pay in the opening round. But the Argentinian grew closer on cards as the fight drew on. On more than one occaission Maidana trapped the weary Khan on the ropes, unloading his heavy hands before referee Joe Cortez jumped in and pulled Maidana off Khan for little reason.

"It was like I was fighting two men in there. Khan and the referee. He looked at me once like he was going to hit me (the ref)." said a dejected Maidana.

Many called for a rematch as they felt the fight was worthy of continuation and that Maidana drew or possibly beat Khan. But his pleas fell on deaf ears.

A drab fight with Paul McCloskey ended in a rather debatable manner when the Irishman suffered an accidental clash of heads just as the fight began to get interesting. Screams for an immediate rematch were ignored by Team Khan.

By now Bredis Prescott was pouring scorn on Khan, questioning the size of his genitalia for not knocking on his door and demanding a rematch.

A quick win over a very shopworn Zab Judah, ended strangely as the former champion claimed a low blow felled him. Zab was never in the fight - but now we had several fights ending unsatisfactorily. Infact we forgot to add Barrera whom was doing well until a bad head clash stopped the fight in Khan's favour too.

The hype machine was now in full swing behind Khan. Reports of him sacking conditioning coach without paying him (Ariza claimed they even broke into his hotel to steal his contract) saw their public image damaged further still.

But as long as Khan kept winning and smiling for the public, all was forgiven. "We want Mayweather next" was the cry.

But all that ended last Saturday night when the unheralded Lamont Peterson entered the ring. Team Khan believed their own hype so badly that they offered to go to Washington DC to fight Peterson in his back yard.

"To become a great, you do these things" was the brave mantra uttered. When in reality the train of thought (at a guess) was "Peterson is a bum who will make me look a million dollars. Tim Bradley beat him by scores of 120-107 thus I'll work him over and stop him."

The likes of Hopkins and De La Hoya chimed-in, making out Peterson as some sort of danger-man. Behind closed doors it was obviously said tongue in cheek. To put some excitement into a bout 10 out of 10 boxing reporters had Khan winning, many of which said "By KO".

So when the first couple of rounds of flashy hand speed were out of the way, to see a man who's probably not as good as Michael Katsidis, back up Khan and pummel him to the ribs and face - we suddenly were reminded that all that glitters is not gold.

Back came the haunting memories of Rachid Drilzane, a man with ZERO knockouts putting down Khan for the first time. A spent Michael Gomez dropping Khan heavily as he ran away from the rusty war horse's left hook.

The final bell rang and the rest was history. Did Khan get treated harshly by the referee? well some could say he's actually benefited from referee's for most of his career and it was finally judged properly. A few elbows chucked in were lucky not to have been spotted.

I personally had it 1-point in Peterson's favour, but a draw could be argued. But my score was without the deductions which afterwards clearly gave Lamont the title.

Now the dust has settled...guess what.

Amir Khan wants a 'rematch' and it looks like Peterson's coach Barry Hunter has dismissed the notion of fighting Amir again in March 2012 as publicised by GBP and Khan.

Wouldn't that be a strange turning of the tables for a man who's denied so many rematches throughout his career - to suddenly demand one and get denied too.

History has a funny way of biting you on the ass. But whilst were talking history, I would like Ricky Burns to eclipse Khan in the British scribes British pound-for-pound rankings. He has paid his dues and put in masterful performances since his first steps onto world stage.

What do you think? Strip away the hype and consider their toughest tests and the manner of their losses, I think Burns now edges Khan.

Ricky Burns 33-2 and a WBO champion at Super Feather and Lightweight
Amir Khan 26-2 and an IBF / WBA champion at Light-welterweight.

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