Where now for Amir Khan?
As the dust settles at the Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas, Amir Khan is left sitting asking himself where it all went wrong.
In the early hours of Sunday morning, British boxing fans witnessed what to some was a shocking result as Amir “King” Khan was brought down to earth with a bang when he was TKO’d by underdog Danny Garcia.
For some it was shocking, for others it was a reality check that, despite being assured by the King himself in the build up to this fight that he was a "Superstar" and Danny Garcia was not on his level and we would be witnessing a knock out, it would all account for nothing.
In an article I wrote several months back I highlighted the fact that Amir, despite being a nice guy, cannot help but to alienate fans by his untimely and quite frankly ill advised comments.
Again in this build up we had the comments which included “Superstar”, “Mayweather” and “not on my level” things we had all heard before and words we cringed at again as they left his mouth. Many key figures in the fight game including Ricky Hatton and Barry McGuigan all expressed concern via their Twitter accounts after hearing Amir talk this way. He didn't appear to have learnt from past experiences, that sometimes it is better concentrating on your present opponent, than looking ahead to future ones.
Of course Amir is not alone in making such bold predictions and statements going into a big fight; the issue that Amir has is that his comments provoke such emotion in those listening that he continues to lose his fan base, this is now coming back to bite him, with the majority of boxing forums gloating at the weekend’s result.
We should be proud of this young man, he is 25 years old, won a silver medal at the Olympics, won world titles, fought in historic venues like Madison Square Garden and the hotels of Las Vegas, yet we have huge numbers of people wishing him to fail and smiling when it happens.
I feel, as many do, that Amir needs to re-assess where he goes from here and he really needs to consider the team he has around him. I can’t be specific as to the roles within the camp but it appears that there are too many people around him that want to slap him on the back and help build the ego and hang with the “Superstar” instead of telling him to pull himself back to reality and know that to be a “Superstar” you need to perform like one.
As for his trainer Freddie Roach, I read the odd comment about whether Amir should leave Freddie Roach; is this not a knee jerk reaction to a loss? Does anyone for one minute think that Freddie advised Amir to go out and try to trade with someone who critics said only had a puncher’s chance?
Then again, if Amir feels that travelling all over the world to be with Roach is taking its toll on his performances, then I'm sure he will address the situation, but not before he addresses his attitude.
In boxing there is a fine line between being boring and downright stupid in your approach. Amir Khan does not lack in heart and guts as he has shown in the ring before and again at the weekend, but he does lack the boxing brain to know when to trade and when to box. In his fight with Garcia he brought water pistols to a gun fight and paid the price. He should have listened to his corner and been in and out before Garcia got a chance to unload, but his ego wouldn't allow it. I therefore believe that it is his attitude that should change not his trainer.
The alarm bells rung as loud as ever when Amir was seen to be having a life and death sparring session in the build up to this fight as televised by Sky Sports. When asked by his strength and conditioning coach to box his response was “It looks boring” so therein lies the problem; Amir cares too much about what he looks like rather than doing what is required to get the job done. (See video)
If Amir aspires to replace Floyd Mayweather as the real “King” of the sport then he should take a leaf out of his book and do what it takes to win and not what it takes to be exciting. Floyd has built his reputation on being a master of defence with a fast and accurate offence but his real strength is his mental toughness to not be bullied into fighting the other guy’s fight. It’s only recently that Mayweather has started to change his approach to give the fans more of what they want to see. Then again he can afford to, his legacy is already built, his invite to the hall of fame assured, so quite frankly he can do what he wants.
I'm not sure where Amir Khan goes from here. He has said in recent reports that he will fight again and come back stronger which I have no doubt he will try and do because he is tenacious and dedicated enough to do so.
Who will he fight? That is the big question: does he remain at 140? Or does he go up to 147 as was discussed before the defeat at the weekend? I have no doubts that whoever they ask him to fight, the boy from Bolton will be more than willing to fight I just hope that he will do it in a more humble way. He needs to remember that British boxing fans prefer their athletes to be humble like a Ricky Hatton, a Frank Bruno, a Barry McGuigan or even a Carl Froch, all of whom are true “Superstars” that would never be heard referring to themselves in that way.
I'm not so sure we will see that however, as no sooner have I typed this up and I read the following quote from Carl Froch which stated "I would retire if that happened to me. Why? Because I'm not in boxing to get beaten, knocked out or outclassed. This result is very damaging for him. He has been KO'd by someone who isn't at the top level"
Amir’s response “Carl's always got his little things to say, I think I'll leave it at that really. I'm a young fighter, I'm 25, I'm not talking about retiring, I'm still young and I've got a lot in me. If he wants to retire, he can retire, he's talking about retiring. I'm in a tougher division. I'm fighting better opposition and I'm a bigger name than him, and I think that's what burns him really.”
So it would appear that despite the beating that Amir took at the weekend he is still not thinking before engaging his mouth. In many ways his handling of the media is like his fighting style, when he feels under attack he goes to pieces and instead of a cool, calm response, he fires straight back in wreckless fashion often resulting in catastrophic endings.