Amir Khan Wins Impressively but Proves Nothing Against Carlos Molina
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It became brutally clear for Amir Khan after his stunning knockout loss to Danny Garcia this past July that something needed to change.
With his second straight defeat, and third of his career, Khan's defensive flaws, and suspect chin appeared on the verge of derailing a once promising career.
Enter Virgil Hunter, a front-runner for trainer of the year and the man credited with helping craft Andre Ward into one of the sport's top fighters, who was brought in to fix these problems and return Khan to the top.
In his first fight under Hunter, Khan took on the undersized and light-hitting Carlos Molina, dominating him and forcing his corner to halt the punishment after the 10th round.
The performance was certainly impressive, but it still leaves a lot of question marks about where Khan is right now as a fighter.
All the things that make Amir Khan such a good fighter at times were still present.
He had blazing fast hands, appeared to suffer no confidence issues and worked well behind his jab to setup his combinations punches.
But unfortunately for Khan some of the things that Hunter was brought in to fix also reared their ugly heads.
This included a propensity to leave his chin wide open when throwing combinations, and exchange power punches when it's not necessary.
Obviously this worked out just fine for Khan, as Molina didn't have anything near the power to trouble him and check his chin.
But Virgil Hunter definitely still has a lot of work to do and improvements to make before Khan thinks about stepping back in there with a natural junior welterweight who can punch.
That would be the antithesis of Carlos Molina, who had come up in weight for the fight, and has only registered seven knockouts among his 17 career victories.
Many felt that the 27-year-old California native was brought in for this fight specifically for his lack of size and punching power.
It would seem after tonight that this assumption was both correct and fortuitous for Khan who was able to have his way with the smaller fighter.
His hands were extremely fast, they were the difference in the fight, and he did make some small tactical changes that will certainly please his new trainer.
For a fighter whose first instinct is to throw punches without regard to what's coming back his way, Khan was more willing to throw combinations and then step back out of range than we've seen in the past.
He did this more often against Molina but still occasionally lapsed into exchanges that he could've done without.
Khan was also an effective ring general, controlling the distance of the fight and forcing Molina to expend energy following him around.
The few times he did get tagged by good shots he took them well. But it's hard to gauge how much this had to do with Khan's improvement versus Molina's lack of punching power.
That's why this win, while impressive, really doesn't give us much idea of where Amir Khan stands in relation to where he was six months ago.
Would this style have worked and would he have been able to take those shots if Danny Garcia, and not Carlos Molina, was the man throwing them?
We don't know. And we won't know until he gets back into the ring with a fighter who can press him and who can bang.
Nobody is expecting Amir Khan to instantaneously change overnight. After all, he's only had eight weeks with Virgil Hunter in his corner.
But that makes any pronouncements that Amir Khan is back premature.
This was a solid victory with a lot of positives, but there's still much work to be done and many questions left to be answered.
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