I entitled an article last week, 'Can Amir Khan Save British Boxing?'
After Saturday's fight with Paulie Malignaggi, the answer is an emphatic "Yes!"
Going into the fight, I certainly had my doubts about Amir Khan. He looked to be a bit soft and even entitled. I wondered if he could handle an active and quick fighter like Malignaggi in front of a hostile crowd.
Khan looked absolutely outstanding. I expected Malignaggi to have quicker hand speed, use angles, and stay away from Khan. Instead, Khan looked to have the quicker hands and better timing and did an excellent job at cutting off the ring.
Malignaggi, who looked very good against Juan Diaz in his last two fights, was simply overmatched by a quicker, stronger, and better fighter. Paulie did an admirable job of hanging in the fight, but by the third round it was obvious he didn't have the quickness or firepower to subdue Khan.
Amir Khan looks like he could be finally fulfilling his destiny as the next superstar of boxing. He's good looking, tall, strong, and handled himself like a savvy veteran. He shares many characteristics with Oscar De La Hoya, who dominated the sport for almost 10 years in terms of PPV buys and gate receipts.
If there's one chink in his armor, it's a suspect chin witnessed by a knockout at the hands of journeymen Breidis Prescott back in 2008.
After that fight, Khan enlisted the tutelage of Freddie Roach in the hopes of ratcheting up his defense and taking him to the next level. He's now 5-0 under Roach with four TKOs and impressive wins against Marcos Antonio Barrera, Andily Kotelnik, and now Malignaggi.
Khan will now have to face the other great fighters in the light welterweight division that include Marcos Maidana, Devon Alexander, Juan Urango, Victor Ortiz, and the outstanding Timothy Bradley.
It is fast turning into the most exciting division in boxing.
All of these fighters will present problems for Khan because all of them are hard hitters. I could foresee Roach giving Khan another warm-up bout, perhaps against Ricky Hatton or Juan Diaz, but the calls for Khan to face the dangerous fighters will only increase after his performance against Malignaggi.
Still, his performance last night rightfully places Khan near the top of the welterweight standings. For my money, I think Timothy Bradley is the only fighter that deserves to be ranked above him.
It was an absolutely brilliant strategy having Khan fight on HBO and in Madison Square Garden. The American public got a glimpse of a very, very talented fighter and someone that many will want to see again.
As for his native Britain, I'm not exactly sure why Khan was never as warmly received as a Ricky Hatton, Carl Froch, or even a Frank Bruno? Naseem Hamed, Joe Calzaghe, and even some say Chris Eubanks suffered similar fates. I'll be interested to see if Khan ventures back across the pond to mend some broken fences or if he likes it better in the land of baseball, hot dogs, and apple pie? Certainly he loves training with Roach.
For my money, he's the most talented fighter to come out of Britain in some time. Perhaps now that he took apart a Yank on American soil the fickle English public will warm up to Khan?
After all, the entire world loves it when anybody, in any sport, at anytime, comes to America and beats one of our own.
As for America, we just love a winner, as Manny Pacquiao has quickly learned. If Khan wants to continue to win fights on US soil, I'm sure he'll quickly secure a solid following.
As for Paulie Malignaggi, he put on a game showing, but was just over-matched. The referee stopped the fight in the 11th round when he just couldn't respond to Khan's relentless attacks. The HBO announcers kept mentioning that he doesn't seem like the same fighter he was two fights ago against Juan Diaz. He didn't circle as much and his legs seem slow. If that's the case, then Malignaggi should retire right now. He's never been a hard hitter.
He's been able to win fights because of his lightning quick reflexes and speed to keep him out of trouble. If those skills start to abandon him, he should take his money and get out of the game while he still has his motor skills.
Overall, an entertaining fight and it was a pleasure to watch Khan at work.