Posted by Sabrina B. @gametimegirl
BA junior welterweight (140 pounds) kingÂ Amir Khan (pictured standing at right) of England dropped his rival with about 20 seconds left in the first round, was the beneficiary of a fifth-round point deduction by referee Joe Cortez for the illegal use of an elbow and survived nearly being knocked out by a furious barrage of blows in the 10th round.
In the end, the recent birthday boy also gave himself an early Christmas present in the form of bragging rights as a tough, durable and resourceful competitor following Saturday night’s Golden Boy Promotions HBO televised unanimous decision win over hard-punching, WBA interim champion opponentÂ Marcos Rene Maidana (on the canvas at right) of Argentina before a raucous crowd at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas.
In victory, Khan rose to 24-1 with 17 knockouts, dropping Maidana to 29-2 with 27 knockouts. Khan won 113-112 on the card of judge Glen Trowbridge and 114- 111 on those of C.J. Ross and Jerry Roth in what the 2004 Olympic silver medalist had described prior to the bout as a classic, “boxer versus puncher” and “speed versus power” battle.
Khan’s only loss did not bode well for him against a fierce and brutal puncher such as Maidana, owing to the fact that Khan was stopped by a 54-second knockout while still competing at lightweight (135 pounds) in September 2008 at the hands of Colombian-bornÂ Breidis Prescott, who entered their bout with a mark of 19-0 that included 17 knockouts.
Khan, nevertheless, earned his sixth straight win, even as he failed to earn his fifth knockout victory during that time as he made the third defense of the crown that he won by dethroning UkrainianÂ Andriy Kotelnik (31-4-1, 13 KOs) by unanimous decision in July 2009. In his fight before facing Khan, Kotelnik had defended his WBA crown by split-decision over Maidana.
Khan’s second straight win following the loss to Prescott was a lightweight, March 2009, fifth-round stoppage of Mexican greatÂ Marco Antonio Barrera, which was his first bout working with four-time Trainer of the YearÂ Freddie Roach.
After defeating Barrera, Khan rose into the junior welterweight ranks for his triumph over Kotelnik, and in December 2009 scored a 76-second stoppage of previously unbeatenÂ Dmitriy Salita (31-1-1, 16 KOs) that featured three knockdowns.
“I’m sure that everyone who was watching thought that same about my chin. But I made a mistake in my past, and now, I’m a different fighter. I’m training with Freddie Roach and [assistant trainer] Alex Ariza,” said Khan, who turned 24-years-old on Wednesday. “I’ve come back stronger than ever. I was hit by Maidana’s best shots, and I was still there.”
Khan’s speed was apparent early in the first round, as he dropped Maidana with a crisp right to the body followed by a left that had his opponent squirming in pain on the canvas with 20 seconds left. Maidana rose, however, and was immediately chased to the ropes by Khan, who landed about seven more blows, including a hard left hand just before the bell, but couldn’t finish Maidana off.
But Maidana was back on the attack in the second, landing a hard right hand and a few more punches that appeared to briefly get the retreating Khan’s attention. By early in the third round, however, Khan had gone back to his laser-like jab, occasionally grabbing his man in close, even as he took a short left hook and a jab late in the round.
At one point in the fourth, Khan’s head bobbled up and down several times from taking four or five straight uppercuts from Maidana before going back to jabbing and moving, yet again.
After being penalized by referee Joe Cortez for an attempted fifth-round elbow, Maidana rallied in the sixth and seventh when he shook Khan with overhand lefts, and then overhand rights and uppercuts with both hands from in close.
Midway through the sixth, Maidana’s succession of four, chasing left hooks forced Khan to clinch and hold. Near the end of the seventh, Khan was trapped along the ropes for about the final 15 seconds, where he absorbed a fierce series of uppercuts and body shots. Although Khan trailed, 18-17, in punches landed for that round, Maidana’s blows were clearly more potent.
Khan rebounded, however, in the eighth and ninth, and was back on his toes against what appeared to be a punched-out Maidana. Khan out-landed Maidana, 24-to-four, in eighth, where he boxed effectively and from a distance and drilled home rights and lefts as he circled from behind his jab.
The on-coming Maidana was on the canvas from a shoving left near the ropes with about 70 seconds left in the ninth, but it was ruled a slip by Cortez. From there, Khan twice fired away, from in close, before dancing away, unharmed, landing a couple of crisp, uppercuts from long range along the way to out-landing Maidana, 34-to-8, in the round.
Maidana stormed back, however, in the 10th, where punch statistics had him enjoying an advantage of 23-7 in overall punches landed. With about a minute and 55 seconds left, Maidana nailed and wobbled Khan with a thunderous, right hand to the wide side of Khan’s jaw that nearly dropped him.
FanHouse, however, counted about 27 unanswered blows from Maidana — comprised of uppercuts, lefts, and, rights, all to the head — as Khan teetered around the ring until there was about 72 seconds left in the 10th. Another 20 or so wicked volleys were landed by Maidana before Khan responded to stem the tide thanks to a left-right combination with 20 seconds left. But Maidana whacked Khan with five more right hands, including an uppercut — three of them in succession — and two more lefts before the round was over. A bloody-nosed Khan stumbled back to his corner.
You alright?” Cortez came over and asked, Khan, in the fighter’s corner.
“Yeah,” Khan responded.
“Okay,” said Cortez, adding, “because I won’t let you take any more unecessary punishment.”
But Maidana had another favorable 11th, where the punch advantage was 19-12, in his favor, and he shook his man once again. Khan circled for most of the 11th, hands held high around his ears, until there was about 80 seconds left. That’s when Khan unleashed a right-left-right combination that shook Maidana, even as a counter-left began blood flowing from Khan’s nose again.
Two uppercuts drove Khan backward, even as he responded with a left-right combination with 45 seconds left. Khan was also cut beneath his right eye at the end of the 11th, which ended with him being pounded along the ropes. Khan closed the 12th round well, however, landing a succession of lefts and rights over the final 15 seconds that may have been the determining factor for a favorable lasting impression on the judges.
“I thought that I won it. I thought that I did enough in the final rounds,” said an angry Maidana. “I want to fight with whomever, but they they gave him the decision.”
Since losing to Kotelnik, Maidana had won four straight fights, three of them by knockout. Maidana’s roll had included a June 2009 sixth-round knockout of rising southpawÂ Victor Ortiz (28-2-2, 22 KOs) in a clash during which Maidana was floored three times, and Ortiz twice.
Khan was coming off of May’s 11th-round knockout of Brooklyn’s former IBF junior welterweight king,Â Paulie Malignaggi (27-4, five KOs), at the WaMu Theatre of New York’s Madison Square Garden, and Maidana, off of August’s tougher-than-expected 12-round unanimous decision over 36-year-old southpaw and former world championÂ DeMarcus Corley (37-15-1, 22 KOs).
Before facing Corley, Maidana used a vicious body shot to stop talented and previously unbeatenVictor Cayo (26-1, 18 KOs) of the Dominican Republic in the sixth round in March after having also dropped Cayo in the second round.
Khan made his American debut at Madison Square Garden, and made his Las Vegas debut opposite Maidana. Khan earned $975,000, plus some upside to British television revenue compared to the $550,000 that went to Maidana.
Among the names mentioned by Golden Boy Promotions’ CEO,Â Richard Schaefer, as a potential April opponent for Khan’s ring return possibly in England is 33-year-old southpaw Las Vegas residentÂ Zab Judah (39-6, 26 KOs), a former holder of the WBA, WBC and IBF welterweight (147 pounds) belts, as well as a former champion with IBF and WBO junior welterweight crowns.
A Brooklyn native, Judah won for the fourth straight time since losing toÂ Joshua Clottey in August of 2008 with November’s HBO televised split-decision over 27-year-oldÂ Lucas Matthysse (27-1, 25 KOs) of Argentina.
“We are looking at Amir fighting in England in April and then bringing him back to the United States in July,”Â Schaefer told BoxingScene.com’s Ryan Burton. “We will look for another date to finish out the year. One of the names mentioned for April is Zab Judah.”
Judah is the mandatory challenger for the vacant IBF crown to South Africa’s 30-year-oldÂ Kaizer Mabuza (23-6-3, 14 KOs), who has won eight straight times, with six of them being by knockout, during that run.
Mabuza’s most recent triumph was February’s sixth-round stoppage ofÂ Kendall Holt (25-4, 13 KOs), the man against whom WBO counter partÂ Tim Bradley (26-0, 11 KOs) twice had to rise from the canvas to dethrone as WBO champ in April of 2009.
Schaefer also said that he would be interested in a down-the-road match up between Khan and the winner of a Jan. 29 clash between Bradley and southpaw WBC champÂ Devon Alexander (21-0, 13 KOs), which is slated for the Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, Mich.
“We would be interested in exploring a fight with the Bradley-Alexander winner in July,” said Schaefer. “We want to get Amir a fight back in England first.”
Kathy Duva, CEO of Main Events, which promotes Judah (pictured below, at right) along with Super Judah Promotions, told FanHouse earlier this month that Judah would want a Khan fight.
“I would say that Amir Khan would be the first choice since Bradley and Devon Alexander are going to be busy. But Zab’s goal is to fight all of them,” said Duva.
“So, for example, if an opportunity like Amir Khan comes along, then that’s for a title, and we would go for it,” said Duva. “If that’s not going to happen, then the chances are that we would pursue going after the IBF title and the Kaizer Mabuza fight.”
ByÂ Lem Satterfield