By John J. Raspanti, Doghouse Boxing
Former world champion Amir "King" Khan (28-3, 19 KOs) found his bearings after a fourth round knockdown to score a hard fought 12 round unanimous decision over former two-time IBF lightweight champion Julio “The Kid” Diaz (40-8, 29 KOs) at the Motorpoint Arena in Sheffield, Yorkshire.
Scores were 114-113, 115-113 and 115-112.
The bout was shown live on Box Nation in the United Kingdom. American boxing fans can view the fight on Showtime Championship Boxing later today (Saturday).
Khan, working with trainer Virgil Hunter for the second time, boxed smartly in the opening rounds. He worked behind his jab and flashed combinations. Diaz used the ring and searched for openings. He landed a sneaky inside hook. Khan, with his hands held high, connected with a classic left right that knocked Diaz back a step. He went to the body and ate a counter hook from Diaz.
In round three, Khan, 26, utilized his hand speed. He was consistently beating Diaz to the punch. Diaz did find the range with two heavy right hands. In round four, Diaz landed a hook that surprised Khan. He was laying back and trying to counter Khan’s jab.
The opening came with a minute left in the stanza. A double left hook floored Khan. He jumped up and waved to the crowd, indicating that he was okay. He employed his legs and stayed away from Diaz, punching back occasionally.
Khan used the ring in rounds five and six. Tentative in the first minute of round five, he eventually landed a heavy left hook. Diaz, with dynamite in his left hand, kept looking for places to detonate. Khan clipped Diaz with a lead right. He moved side to side and boxed. His speed was keeping him one step ahead of Diaz.
Diaz, 33, stalked Khan in rounds seven and eight. His counter left hook was dangerous, but it was missing more than landing. Khan turned Diaz and landed a sharp combination. Two left hooks and a right hurt. The hometown crowd held it’s breath as Khan walked into a hard combination. He stumbled sideways but again survived.
In round nine, both fighters connected with strong punches. Khan was still landing three shots to one from Diaz. A big left hook stunned Khan in round 10. Diaz, sensing Khan was hurt, fired combinations. Khan was pleased when the bell ended the round.
Khan went back to boxing in round 11. Diaz, with the knowledge that he could hurt Khan, did just that with a minute gone in the round. A heavy combination shook Khan’s entire body. He was on his bicycle, but the tires were losing air.
Diaz went for the kill in round 12. Khan, ahead on the scorecards, needed to survive. Diaz backed him into the corner and unloaded. Khan countered back with two lead right hands. Diaz stalked forward like a modern day raging bull. His right and left hand stunned Khan.
“We trained very hard for this fight,“ said Khan. “There are little things we’re going to work on when we get back in the ring.”
“I think I gave up too many of the early rounds,” Diaz said. “He’s (Khan) got a lot of heart.”
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