LOS ANGELES, CA — For the last two months, Amir Khan has been raving about his new trainer Virgil Hunter, boasting we’d see a more patient, economical and smarter version of himself when he next stepped in the ring. Last against Carlos Molina, we more so witnessed hints of Khan’s potential with Hunter rather than the finished product, as Khan’s previous defensive issues reared its head (or rather chin), but didn’t put him in any serious peril. Khan’s storyline wasn’t the only compelling one yesterday, as Alfredo Angulo, Deontay Wilder and Leo Santa Cruz added their own drama to last night’s proceedings.
Khan’s a Big Work In Progress: You’d think we’d all realize this, but it felt like many people expected Khan to be Andre Ward out there last night. The man has only had 8 weeks with Hunter. To put this in perspective, let’s look at the most successful partnership in recent years involving a trainer completely revamping a fighter’s game to mask chin and defense issues — Emanuel Steward and Wladimir Klitschko. It took several years for Klitschko under Steward’s tutelage to become the dominant fighter we see today, and during that time he experienced a bad KO loss to Lamon Brewster. Khan will have similar growing pains, especially he jumps right back in with an elite competition as expected.
A Loss “Ending” Khan’s Career Was Fight Hype Hyperbole: Yes, losing to lightweight Carlos Molina would have been devastating. Hell, all of Khan’s losses have been career-altering and devastating. The reason he’s gotten and will continue to get more chances is that he’s an exciting fighter. That’s far more important than his win-loss record and is what separates him from someone like Devon Alexander.
Chill on Those Calls for a Garcia Rematch, Amir: Khan absurdly claimed in his post-fight interview that if he had been fighting Danny Garcia last night, he would’ve scored a knockout. I know Molina was a very light puncher (that’s why he was picked), but surely Khan must remember the numerous left hook counters Molina landed (the same punch Garcia used to batter Khan). Although he did marginally better in that he didn’t linger as much inside to enjoy his combinations, Khan is still open for that shot and needs much more schooling before he goes for that rematch. As it stands now, Khan loses that fight.
What’s Next for King Khan: For starters, he needs to get in there with legit 140 pounder. It’d be dangerous, but since Khan likes to roll the dice I’d like to see him give it go against Olusegun Ajose, who put on a great fight against Lucas Matthysse a few months back. We’d see how the “new” Khan mentally deals with pressure and high volume.
Angulo vs. Silva was the Fight of the Night: This a brutal fight of attrition that did more for Silva’s visibility than Angulo’s comeback. Silva was a 20 year old welterweight moving up and expected to be cannon fodder for the bigger Angulo. Instead, Silva used his quicker hands to abuse Angulo with counter left hook haymakers and right hands starting in the middle rounds. Going into the eighth, Silva had a legit shot at the upset but started to slow due to Angulo excellent hooks to the body, punctuated by Angulo’s switching to southpaw for defense and to work right hooks. If I was someone like Austin Trout, I’d be begging to get Angulo in the ring (I doubt Golden Boy obliges). Regarding Silva, I hope his effort has earned him another Showtime date.
Deontay Wilder Delivers the KO of the Night: All apologies to Nonito Donaire, but Deontay Wilder’s one-punch KO of Kelvin Price gets the kudos. It saved us from what was going to be an ugly, awkward contest between two very tall (6’7 each) and raw heavyweights. By default, Wilder is going to pushed as one of America’s best hopes at heavyweight along with Seth Mitchell and Bryant Jennings as we don’t have anyone else left. It’s pretty damn sad, but that’s the reality of the division.
Leo Santa Cruz Shines on CBS: He had a tough outing with a very game Alberto Guevara, but Leo Santa Cruz had a good fight yesterday. He struggled throughout the first six rounds with Guevara’s movement. The second half was all Santa Cruz, whose left hook downstairs and counter rights inside had Guevara in complete retreat (and at times turning away from Santa Cruz’s offense). Santa Cruz ended up throwing 989 punches and just overhwhelmed Guevara down the stretch. I’m not a fan of coddling young fighters (especially when they hold major titles), so a unification fight with Anselmo Moreno should be on the table for early-mid 2013 if Santa Cruz remains at bantamweight.