Talented but flawed Amir Khan against tough and determined Terence Crawford
By Bill Tibbs
On April 20, live from the most famous arena in the world, Madison Square Garden, Amir “King” Khan (33-4, 20 KO’s) will go up against WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford (39-0, 25 KO’s) in what is a fight that could vey well dictate exactly which direction Khan goes in the twilight of his career.
He has stated in recent interviews that he is near the end and only has a couple more fights left in him. But, like any elite fighter, who wants to earn elite money, he knows a win over Crawford, regarded as perhaps the very best fighter in the game, brings a lot more clout to the negotiating table for his next outing.
Khan has been fighting for 14 years and he knows it is winding own. He has faced the very best of his era and weight class(es). He has a resume that many fighters only dream of – wins over Marco Antonio Barerra, Dmitriy Salita, Paulie Malignaggi, Marcos Maidana, Zab Judah, Julio Diaz, Luis Collazo, Devon Alexander and Chris Algieri – but, there are also a couple of glaring losses that have haunted him.
Khan was an 18-0 British star after emerging out of the 2004 Olympics. All was rolling along until he walked into an overhand right from then unknown Breidis Prescott, in Manchester, England in 2008. The punch dropped and stopped a shocked Kahn, and exposed what has appeared to be the Achilles heel of his career - a questionable chin.
But, like he has throughout his career, he dusted himself off and continued. In fact, 2 fights after the devastating Breidis setback, Khan put together wins over Marco Antonio Barerra, Dmitriy Salita, Marcos Maidana and Zab Judah over the next 3 years. However, at the end of 2011, and mid-way through 2012, Khan lost back-to-back fights - a split decision loss to Lamont Peterson and a stoppage loss to Danny Garcia. But then, in impressive Khan-fashion, he would rebound from the 2 losses to string together wins over Carlos Molina, Julio Diaz, Luis Collazo, Devon Alexander and Chris Algieri over the next 30-months.
This strong, five-fight run would be halted with a vicious KO loss to middleweight champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in May of 2016. However, most forgave him for that loss as it was against a bigger, stronger fighter whom most, if not all, gave him little chance of beating. In fact, he was lauded for his willingness to take on the powerful middleweight.
After taking 2017 off, he has rebounded with two wins that have set up his fight with Omaha’s Crawford. While most people are giving Khan little chance of winning, people are again impressed with his willingness to take on the very best opponents out there, something he has done throughout his career.
Undefeated Crawford is iron-tough and a highly skilled and intelligent boxer. “Bud” would be a rough out for anyone in boxing let along a fighter like Khan who has shown vulnerability to strong counter punchers, to which Crawford is one of the very best. However, undaunted, Khan goes in confident he can win and is excited to get in the ring.
While no fight plan is set in stone, one would assume Khan is banking on using his considerable hand-speed to out-box Crawford and pick up a win on points. Crawford will be looking to get close to Kahn, break down the body and load up on the heavy artillery later in the fight. Khan believes that his fast hands will be paramount to his fight plan stating in a recent interview that,
“He (Crawford) has never faced anyone with speed like mine”.
Khan is indeed looking for a win. He won’t be content with getting a loss but more accolades for his effort and desire to fight the best – accolades don’t pad the retirement account, wins do. He has lot of accolades, as do many tough fighters. But they don’t mean anything in the ‘what have you done for me lately’ business of boxing. But, accolades are what Khan might have to settle for because he is in with what many are calling the very best fighter in boxing.
But, don’t tell that to Khan, he is looking to add to his already impressive legacy and score a win that most feel is out of his reach.
While Khan has a win-filled resume that most fighters could never assemble, it’s a couple of losses that still hang over him that many talk about. “King” Khan knows a win over a star like Crawford brings sweet validation.
As he said in a recent interview, “I just have to prove the haters wrong. I would love to prove everyone wrong against Terence Crawford. If I beat him I would get so much respect. It would be one of the sweetest moments of my life.”
The truth is that some more respect is probably all that Khan can achieve against Crawford. But, when you are fighting someone as good as Crawford that is no small feat.
However, respect, that isn’t accompanied with a win, will be hollow consolation for the British star. But, I’m afraid that he will have to settle for that. When the dust settles I see Crawford emerging with the win that promoter Bob Arum says will set him up for a mega-fight later on down the road with undefeated, Texas banger Errol Spence.
That prediction isn’t a statement about Khan, it’s a statement about Crawford - he’s that good.