Nobody is excited about the fact that lineal middleweight champion Saul Alvarez is facing Amir Khan this weekend. Nobody should be excited about it. Khan is probably a top-five at welterweight, but against Canelo, he’ll be challenging for the lineal middleweight title, without ever having fought above 147 pounds.
Early in his career, Khan was knocked out by Breidis Prescott at 135 pounds. He was starched and stopped in four by Danny Garcia at 140.
Fair or not, those two stoppage losses have managed to far outshine a career’s worth of self-evident boxing talent. Amir Khan won an Olympic silver medal in 2004, at only 17 years of age. A year later, he turned professional with high expectations.
Khan won the first 18 fights of his career with ease, but then got seriously derailed when Prescott caught him early in Round 1 in 2008, knocking him out in less than a minute. Khan regrouped, though. He defeated an aging legend in Marco Antonio Barrera in 2009. He beat Andreas Kotelnik for the WBA light welterweight title three months later. He beat Pauli Malignaggi by Round 11 TKO in May 2010 and survived Marcos Maidana in a war in December of the same year. In 2011 he defeated Zab Judah by Round 5 KO to add the IBF strap to his collection. His career seemed firmly back on track.
Khan lost a controversial split decision to Lamont Peterson in 2012, in front of Peterson’s hometown crowd. I had Khan winning the fight, even with two bizarre point deductions by referee Joe Cooper. Peterson failed a subsequent PED test and the WBA gave Khan his belt back, while the IBF continued to recognize Peterson.
When Amir Khan faced WBC champion Danny Garcia following his loss to Peterson, he was the favorite. He seemed to be well in control during the first two rounds. But Garcia caught up to him with a perfectly times hook in Round 3. Khan beat the count but failed to fully recover and was stopped in the next round.
Since that loss, Khan has defeated very good fighters like Luis Collazo, Devon Alexander and Chris Algieri, but he’s failed to defeated anybody who was truly elite. There’s no doubt that he’s a very talented boxer, but it’s also tough to see how he rates a high-profile “superfight” opportunity like the one he’ll get Saturday night.
A cynic was say he was picked primarily for his vulnerability, rather than his resume.