Amir Khan: Will Virgil Hunter Be Enough to Resurrect Career?

Kevin McRae@@McRaeWritesFeatured ColumnistSeptember 17, 2012

Amir Khan hopes that new trainer Virgil Hunter will help him resurrect a once promising career.
Amir Khan hopes that new trainer Virgil Hunter will help him resurrect a once promising career.Robert Laberge/Getty Images

In the wake of his shocking knockout loss to Danny Garcia in July, it was no surprise that Amir Khan would be in the market for a new trainer.

His then trainer, International Boxing Hall of Famer Freddie Roach, was unable to commit full time to Khan as his stable of fighters also includes Manny Pacquiao and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. 

Khan made the split official last week when he announced he would return to the ring in December and would be seeking a new trainer to help him with his obvious defensive liabilities. 

In short, he gets hit too often, and has a propensity to get knocked out in spectacular fashion. 

Enter Khan's new trainer Virgil Hunter, who was announced this morning, the man who will be tasked at turning around a once promising career that has been shockingly derailed in its last two fights. 

Hunter, who currently trains WBC and WBA super middleweight champion Andre Ward, is known as a defensive-minded trainer. 

His stock has certainly risen of late, in light of Ward's dominant technical knockout victory over light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson last week in Oakland.

But will this be enough to bring the British fighter, who was a rising star before losing his last two fights, back to the top of his game?

Amir Khan is an action fighter. And make no mistake about it, he's no slouch.  He does hold some solid victories including those against Andreas Kotelnik, current welterweight champion Paulie Malignaggi, Marcos Maidana and Zab Judah. 

His problem is he too often is willing to unload punches, with no care in the world about his defense or leaving himself vulnerable to incoming coming back his way.

That was exactly what happened when he faced Danny Garcia in July. Khan, looking for a spectacular performance after losing a controversial decision to Lamont Peterson in December, threw caution to the wind. 

And when you throw caution to the wind, and have a suspect chin, what happens is you sometimes get caught. And when you get caught, you sometimes get knocked out. 

The task for Virgil Hunter will be to make Amir Khan into a more defensive minded fighter, while retaining the tools that make him dangerous in the ring. It's going to be a huge stylistic challenge for Hunter.

This will be Khan's fifth trainer in his short career, something that can be described as troubling. 

It's hard to drastically change a fighter. And defense is something that is innate. It's mostly instinct. Yes, it can be taught. But for many fighters you either have it, or you don't. 

The best analogy for this situation that a boxing fan would readily identify is probably Arturo Gatti. 

For much of his career Gatti was boxing's ultimate blood-and-guts warrior. Willing to take 10 punches to land one of his own and leaving every fight, win, lose or draw, bloody and swollen. 

Gatti, with his career basically on the skids, brought in former fighter James "Buddy" McGirt to train him. McGirt focused on turning the brawler into a boxer and had a great deal of success.

Gatti was always the same blood and guts fighter. But now he was smarter in the ring and this allowed him to prolong his career. 

Now will this happen when Amir Khan teams up with Virgil Hunter? It's hard to say at this stage. Khan certainly has the natural talent and charisma to be a boxing star. 

If he listens to Hunter and commits to defense-first, he may prolong his career but will he be as exciting in the ring?  

Either way, former trainer Freddie Roach has some free advice for Hunter.

"I like Amir but they should keep him away from punchers," Roach told the Scottish Daily Record and Sunday Mail over the weekend.