Oscar De La Hoya has to be smiling right now.
His two young junior welterweight stars, Amir Khan and Victor Ortiz, entered the ring tonight surrounded by questions of their toughness and heart. They silenced many critics, myself included, by dominating veteran fighters at Madison Square Garden.
Ortiz (27-2-1, 21 KO) started off the action against Nate Campbell (33-6-1, 25 KO) and controlled the fight. He scored a questionable knock down in the first round when it appeared he may have actually pushed Campbell down. As the fight continued though, he made sure that call wouldn't be the difference.
Ortiz appeared to be a physical mismatch for the older and smaller Campbell, and he landed a lot of good power punches. Campbell seemed frozen for much of the fight, and was forced into fighting passively. He lost virtually all 10 rounds as two judges had it 100-89 and the other 99-90.
In the main event, Khan (23-1-0, 17 KO) was equally commanding against Paulie Malignaggi (27-4-0, 5 KO) of Brooklyn. While Khan wasn't going to be able to remove doubts about his chin against a light puncher like Malignaggi, he did prove that he has elite-level boxing skills. He was faster and slicker than Paulie from start to finish, which is no small feat.
Referee Steve Smoger stepped in to stop the fight in the 11th round. While Malignaggi wasn't that badly hurt, he was being beaten to the point where the outcome wasn't in doubt.
It is worth noting that, despite all the bad blood leading up to the fight, including an embarrassing tussle at the weigh in, both men were extremely gracious to each other after the stoppage.
Malignaggi in particular, who has earned a bad reputation for being a loud mouth, was very humble and honest about being overmatched.
During Khan's interview he seemed very serious about wanting Argentina's Marcos Maidana next. This is good news to myself and others who have expressed disappointment that his team seems not to want him in the ring with good punchers.
Maidana (28-1-0, 27 KO) is an extremely rugged fighter and as hard of a puncher as there is in the 140-pound division. A win against him would silence the last doubt about Khan, which is his ability to take a shot.
The British "King Khan" also said he hopes to see Americans Devon Alexander (23-0-0, 13 KO) and Timothy Bradley (25-0-0, 11 KO) matched up against each other, and would want the winner after he got past Maidana.
That could really be a true super fight, and would settle the question of who is the best man in what is possibly boxing's strongest division.