LAS VEGAS, NV — For the second consecutive fight, Amir Khan went into the ring with the prospect of a superfight with Floyd Mayweather looming.
And for the second straight time, Khan suffered a shocking upset, this time the result of Danny Garcia’s left hook, which dropped Khan three times in route to a dramatic fourth round TKO.
Khan fought with an aggressive urgency spurred by his press conference vow earlier this week to score a knockout. The WBA titlist came out blazing in the opening seconds of the first round with a hard left jab-right hook. He went inside with hooks which Garcia returned in kind. Each man landed clean, thudding shots, but Khan’s faster hands gave him a distinct advantage.
Garcia found himself being pushed backward by Khan’s hand speed and tried in vain to counter off the back foot. However, the WBC title-holder found success inside due to Khan’s reckless exchanges, and caught his opponent with a sharp right hook. In addition, Garcia scored with several left hooks to the body. Nonetheless, Khan’s slashing shots opening up a bad cut above Garcia’s right eye.
“He’s picking you apart!” stated Danny’s father and trainer Angel Garcia, who implored his fighter to settle down and be patient with his shots.
Garcia did just that in the third, weathering Khan potshots and swelling for most of the round only to crash home a vicious left hook to the side of Khan’s neck. The blow robbed Khan of his equilibrium; he crashed backward on the canvas and rose in drunken stumbles. With less than 20 seconds left, Khan pushed and held his way to the bell despite Garcia getting in several more hooks.
The minute rest did little for Khan and another knockdown was scored early in the fourth when a Garcia hook caused Khan’s glove to touch the canvas. Khan spent that early portions of the round in frantic retreat with his back facing away from Garcia.
What appeared to be an inevitable conclusion was stalled when Khan suddenly planted his feet and began trading power shots inside. He gave Garcia brief pause with a clubbing overhand right and crashed home several uppercuts. Garcia countered the desperation offense with more heavy left hooks.
The slugfest thrilled the crowd, but Khan was still weakened from the previous knockdowns and again tasted the canvas courtesy of a Garcia left hook. Khan rose for a third time and assured referee Kenny Bayless that he was fit to continue. However, Bayless feared for the fighter’s health and called off the bout to Khan’s immediate dismay.
The exciting unification bout awarded Danny Garcia the WBA and RING Magazine belts while retaining his WBC title. Although his father Angel insulted Khan on ethnic and religious terms before Saturday night, Danny Garcia had nothing but praise for Khan’s abilities.
“Amir Khan is a great fighter and I knew he’d bring the best out of me,” said Garcia.
Khan was stoic in defeat and acknowledged that his big success in the initial two rounds made him unfocused.
“We got complacent and we paid for that,” admitted Khan.
Danny Garcia remains undefeated and will be the likely candidate to face the winner of the September 8 IBF title match between Randall Bailey and Devon Alexander.
As you saw from the headline of my Amir Khan interview earlier today, I wasn’t keen on Amir being so focused on a future Mayweather fight when he had a highly capable and dangerous man in front of him. It felt to me like deja vu considering this was exactly the same scenario before he fought Lamont Peterson last December.
Khan let Angel Garcia’s nonsense get in his head. He came out fighting angry with something to prove. He started like he was Arturo Gatti with Muhammad Ali and George Chuvalo’s chin. He slugged away with power shots instead of consistently working behind the jab and outboxing Garcia (when he threw the jab, he nearly always landed clean). He got caught up in wanting the spectacular KO for the Mayweather setup and got his career derailed yet again.
Should Garcia not got for the winner of Bailey-Alexander, I’d love to see a rematch of this upset before the end of 2012.