Amir Khan and a Four-Fight Trajectory to 140-Pound Redemption
With blistering speed, an astute jab and a general boxing ability that was at least one clear level above his opponent, Amir Khan (27-3-0, 19ko) shut Carlos Molina (17-1-1, 7ko) out before forcing a 10th-round corner stoppage during their fisticuffs at Sports Arena in Los Angeles on Saturday, Dec. 15.
It was a much-needed victory for the former world champion. Prior to fight night, Khan was without a win since the summer of 2011, when he keeled Zab Judah over with a shot to the buckle.
Since then, the Briton embarked on a two fight-losing streak as a decision loss to Lamont Peterson preceded a fourth-round destruction set up by Danny Garcia, a Philadelphian counter left-hooker who flicked Khan's lights-off switch three times.
A methodical retirement of erstwhile undefeated Molina interrupted that run. Molina was at various disadvantages throughout the fight, though. He had a similar wingspan but relinquished four inches in height and was in unfamiliar terrain at junior welterweight. Khan was also the house fighter.
The triumph was a mandatory requirement for Khan to push on, but Molina was never seen to be a viable candidate to stretch Amir's abysmal run to three without a win. So, for Khan to reclaim his former spot as top dog in the 140-pound division, there are still a clutch of (realistically bookable) match-ups the 26-year can take…
Khan vs. Prescott II: Winner Stays on
When Breidis Prescott (26-4-0, 20 KO) was flown over to Manchester to take on Khan in 2008, he was a largely unknown South American with a healthy KO percentage. After just 54 seconds of one-sided battle at the then-MEN Arena, the rangy Colombian banged his way into the headlines by giving Khan a dose of spaghetti legs and sleepy time.
Their career paths could not have been more different. While the assumption might lend itself to Prescott going on to win a world title, a successful unification, appearances on the biggest boxing broadcasters and an army of Twitter followers, that fate was actually bestowed onto Khan.
Breidis, meanwhile, attempted to fight against slipping into irrelevance as he was out-boxed by Miguel Vazquez and Kevin Mitchell in 2009 and lost a disputed decision to Paul McCloskey before getting stopped by hellacious puncher Mike Alvarado in 2011.
Despite his setbacks, Prescott continues to campaign for one thing—a big-money rematch with the man who made his name/fame; Amir Khan.
While Khan initially dismissed the suggestion many moons ago, it might now be one that pays dividends. His work with new trainer Virgil Hunter would be tested (the bout pits two jabbers against the other, with Prescott having proven power within his right mitt) and, if successful, it would avenge the first blemish on his resume.
Khan vs. Peterson II: Unfinished Business
The first duel between Lamont Peterson (30-1-1, 15 KO) and Khan had everything bar a knockdown… a champion (Khan) entering enemy territory in order to quiet the home favorite (Peterson), 12 rounds of competitive action and a couple of scandals.
The presence of Mustafa Ameen, better known as 'The Man in the Hat,' was seen touching the official scorecard of one of the ringside judges. The later explanation was that he was helping to make a correction, but the fact he was only "loosely" affiliated with sanctioning body IBF and not on official business, led to calls for an immediate rematch.
That rematch, slated for May 19 in Las Vegas, was cancelled following the revelation that Peterson had been implicated in a failed drug test. Boxer-puncher Lamont even admitted he had taken testosterone pellets before his first fight with Khan.
Peterson has yet to fight since his split decision nod over Khan last December, however, as of Dec. 14, 2012, the Washington-based 28-year-old remains listed as the IBF title-holder at 140 pounds. There were also murmurs he could face Zab Judah, who is now scheduled to take on Danny Garcia early next year.
A rematch could prove beneficial for both parties. For Peterson, it offers the chance to prove his first edging of Amir was not down to performance-enhancing drugs, while Khan can put right the second of his three defeats and win back one of his two world title belts.
Khan vs. Garcia II: Repeat or Revenge?
A lucky punch by its own definition is one that occurs by chance or fortune, not one that is rehearsed on multiple occasions.
Danny Garcia (25-0-0, 16 KO) was a renowned left hooker before he even laced up against Khan. Amir's former trainer Freddie Roach even incorporated a defense against it in his game-plan but any tactics were abandoned when Garcia (pictured above left, with father Angel, right) and Khan traded heavy blows, with the former coming out on top of a stunning fourth-round smash-and-grab victory five months ago.
The left hook landed numerous times throughout the 12 minutes of boxing that took place during a midsummer's night at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, but it was the flooring blow in Round 3 (the first of the three knockdowns) that reverberated most violently through the sports pages in England as Garcia clobbered Khan round the side of the neck/jawline, noodling his legs and bringing back memories of Prescott.
Garcia's provocative father/trainer Angel Garcia—arguably the most-talked about trash-talker in boxing today—made allusions to Khan's being over after Danny defeated him, but following Amir's win over Molina, it is a fight he wants to revisit. But with Garcia's attentions currently focused on his upcoming bout with Judah, it may be one Khan has to work for…
Khan vs. Matthysse: Thunder & Lightning
Even though he has two losses on his ledger, Lucas Matthysse is the man to beat at junior welterweight.
If you enter the ring with the hard Argentine, nine times out of ten you'll leave with a concussion as DeMarcus Corley—who was knocked down nine times by Lucas—will testify. So too will Vivian Harris, Judah, Devon Alexander, Humberto Soto and Ajose Olusegun, who all tasted the man's big, bad, right hand.
While Alexander and Judah escaped with points victories, the wins have been a source of contention as some quarters claim them to be tight fights that could have gone either way, while others campaign for them to be regarded Matthysse victories. Regardless of one's standing, something all can agree on is that nobody who takes on the 30-year-old goes on to have an easy night.
Teak tough Matthysse is primarily known for his devastating punch power and, while true, he is more skilled than a mere slugger. He'll take the wind out of your lungs before winding up for a goodnight pow, right in your kisser. He spars with the stand-out fighter three weight classes above his own (Sergio Martinez) and is currently aligned to fight Hammering Hank Lundy in a 140-pound attraction in January.
Matthysse would be the ultimate test in how far Khan's defensive abilities and punch resistance has come (like Marcos Maidana was in 2010). Khan would not be favored, but even if he went 3-1-0 against the opposition mentioned in this slideshow, Amir would enjoy a reputation as a gauntlet-running fighter only losing to the best of the best (not too dissimilar to countryman Carl Froch).
If he went 4-0-0, then Khan would have a reputation as the fighter at 140 pounds.