Welterweight Amir “King” Khan (28-3/19 KOs) returned to Sheffield, Yorkshire, England at the Motorpoint Arena on Saturday, April 27, 2013 in front of a hometown crowd to face off against ring veteran Julio “The Kidd” Diaz (40-8-1/29 KOs) in a 12 round affair. Khan had not been back to England for 2 years, fighting the bulk of his matches during his professional career in California mostly. The crowd roared to a fevered pitch during Khan and Diaz’s contest, yet instead of there being cries of concern or worry, the majority of the voices in the audience were yelling their support and undying admiration and loyalty for Khan. As to be expected, Khan won a close call decision victory against Diaz as hometown cooking was definitely the soup of the day in England. The unfolding of the bout during the evening, however, became particularly revealing and telling as the boxing public got to witness another charade played out right before their very eyes.
From the onset of the fight, Khan stayed on his bicycle and boxed in spots. He landed a few punches here and there that got the Sheffeld crowd on their feet and boisterous, although anytime a hometown fighter throws a single punch at all, whether it lands or not, people will respond in unison. In fact, when a boxer steps into the ring and has the home field advantage he could basically either cough or fart and get the exact same response. It’s that concrete people. Just the way it is. Diaz pushed the action far more and landed the harder and more accurate blows all night long. He caught Khan over and over again with stinging left hooks and hammering right hands that drilled and hurt him the entire evening. In the 4th round, Khan ate canvas after Diaz flattened him with a solid left hand that sent him reeling and tumbling down.
The reason such a bout and subsequent decision is very distasteful is because while Amir Khan is being billed as the second coming as far as boxing is concerned, there are still legitimate doubts about him as a fighter, especially when it comes to his increasingly noticeable glass jaw. To paraphrase what Floyd “Money” Mayweather said recently in his CBS special entitled, “Mayweather”, “A fighter must have three things, a brain, a heart and a chin”. Without a chin Khan may of course still be able to continue to skate by opponents and get gift decisions which are clearly presents more than anything else. Until he either steps up his output in the ring, improves his defense, or learns how to take a punch better, his career up until now and stint as a professional boxer and top fighter will remain in question. The hand speed and desire are surely there, but there is much more that is lacking in Amir Khan the boxer.
Facts are facts and Julio Diaz without a doubt won that fight. The assumption by Khan’s trainer Virgil Hunter that Khan went down on a slip in round 4 is laughable at best. Suffering his 9th knockdown as a professional, Amir Khan once again showed the rest of world, outside of England, that not much has changed with his defensive game. Firing Freddie Roach may have seemed like a long term solution for the boxer, but it is the fighter who must improve and find their own niche, find their way. A trainer can guide and mold a boxer only so much, as it is up to Khan to take what he has learned and implement it, not just change trainers like underwear when the results prove less than favorable because of your own shortcomings in the ring. Khan may have his loyal fans in England buying it and drinking the Kool-Aid, but across the Atlantic we just don’t buy wolf tickets that often, sorry.
A possible showdown with Floyd Mayweather, Jr. in the future is what has been rumored among boxing circles for quite some time now. Realistically such a fight would not be safe for Khan at all, or relevant for boxing in any way. The chance to see Mayweather systematically destroy and pick apart a weaker, no-beard having Amir Khan would only feed a few fans bloodlust to see the British fighter go down hard once again. For Khan to be successful he needs to go back to the drawing board and seriously improve his defense if he wants to justifiably be considered a “top-fighter” like he is being sold to the world as. Until Khan does this and reveals in the ring a heightened sense and display of defensive improvement he can not be considered one of the best out there given the names in the arena today. With a chin that has constantly been an albatross around his neck, and a court chock full of beckoned jesters who continue to proclaim his monarchy from up on high, “King” Khan will remain all but a fading captain who is drowning on a ship of fools.