Amir Khan is a talened fighter. But can he withstand the intensity and power of Terence Crawford?
By John J. Raspanti
When Amir Khan is mentioned, usually what follows is a discussion of his chin. But is said jaw that fragile?
I’m afraid so. If you want to qualify it, you could say Khan has been knocked out “only” by Breidis Prescott, early in his career, and Canelo Alvarez. The Alvarez loss was brutal. Khan went down like a corpse. Alvarez was so concerned that he knelt down in prayer near the prone Khan.
The former two-time junior welterweight champion has been floored 11 times in his professional career. He hit the canvas three times against Danny Garcia, the first time from a shot to the neck that discombobulated him. Khan has gone down in other bouts, gotten up, and won. He did that in his last fight against middle-of-the-road Samuel Vargas.
Khan appeared to have Vargas ready to go in the opening round. Vargas had no clue how to defend against Khan’s blistering hand speed. He kissed the canvas twice. But he got up, and in round two, he collapsed Khan with a right to the head. Khan recovered, was buzzed again later in the fight, but ended up winning the match by wide decision. He can be reckless, lose focus, and make mistakes in the ring.
On April 20, at Madison Square Garden in New York City, NY, Khan will throw hands against the best boxer he’s faced, defending WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford. Khan knows what he’s facing in Crawford, but his confidence is high.
“I have a lot against me, but this is where I like to be,” Khan told The New York Post a few days ago. “This is where I like to be because I’m the underdog. I am at my best when people are looking over me. I feel strong physically and mentally. I am prepared for this fight.”
Preparation and self-confidence aside, Khan will need to be literally perfect to win April 20. Crawford (34-0, 25 KOs) picked up his latest belt by beating the tar out of Jeff Horn last year. Prior to the Horn fight, Crawford unified the junior welterweight division for the first time since 2004 by annihilating Julius Indongo.
With no challenges left in the 140-pound weight class, Crawford moved up seven pounds to welterweight. After beating Horn, he made the first defense of his welterweight strap by stopping Jose Benavidez last October. Crawford is not underestimating Khan.
“We have to take this fight real serious,” Crawford said during a recent media conference call. “A lot of fighters think they have victory in the bag and haven’t even fought the fight yet.”
True and smart thinking by Crawford. Khan will present some challenges that Crawford has likely never faced. Though 32, Khan’s hands are still very fast, perhaps faster than Crawford’s. He also has some pop in his punches. He’s been in plenty of big fights during the course of his career.
It’s the same for Khan. He’s never faced a fighter as complete as Crawford. He’s a cerebral assassin-hunting down opponents before putting them away.
Junior welterweight Stan Martyniouk (20-2, 6 KOs) has been sparring with Crawford for a few weeks. He likes what he’s seen.
“He’s looking unbelievably strong,” said Martyniouk. “He punches really hard and has great defense. He’s a beast-a very special fighter. I’m honored to be in camp with him.”
Crawford,31, beats up fighters from the inside, or outside. He switches to southpaw, can box and slug. He searches for an edge and then exploits it.
“I’m looking for the best Amir Khan possible on fight night,” said Crawford. “We’ll handle everything else accordingly.”
Yes, he will. And to answer my original question, ‘Will Khan be able to stay upright?” The answer is no. Look for Crawford to catch and stop Khan before round nine.