Khan fails to grace the stage

Callum Rudge
30/05/2015 1:46pm

The stage was set for Amir Khan. New York City in a big arena on a Friday night, a cable TV network [Spike] that reaches millions of U.S. viewers and an opponent who was there to make him look good in Chris Algieri but, even though Khan was celebrating at the end of the night, the feeling was that the party was missing something.

Khan won quite comfortably. My card matched that of Benoit Roussel who had it 117-111 [other scores were 117-111 and 115-113]. The Bolton man was always in complete control of the fight and, even when Algieri landed flush, he was rarely troubled. The missing ingredient in Khan’s performance was that he never bothered the New Yorker either. Algieri had been down eight times in his last two contests and the pre-fight expectation was that Khan would hurt him, too.

This meant Algieri could abandon his jab and press forward knowing that Khan couldn’t stifle him, but it left the fight short of drama. The Bolton man used his feet well and this has been a signature of his improvement under Virgil Hunter, moving at angles instead of circling the ring and keeping more in the tank for the later rounds, whereas in the past he was left clinging on [Julio Diaz, Marcos Maidana]. Khan still smothers his own work and retreats with his head up but he’s evolved since leaving Freddie Roach who was, perhaps, too deep in the Manny Pacquiao business during their association.

The former WBA and IBF 140lbs champion has the speed and skillset to test anyone at 147lbs but, since his move to welterweight, opponents appear to have been chosen with minimal risk in mind. The time has come to take off the stabilisers and face someone who can put the fear into Khan and fill one of these big arenas he’s been boxing in [his last two fights have been sold at half capacity].

One way to fill up a big venue is for Khan to return home. Since he beat Paul McCloskey in 2011, he’s boxed in the UK just once and that was two years ago [Julio Diaz]. The prestige may be in America, but a fight with IBF champion Kell Brook is arguably the biggest draw in British boxing and significant at world level.

Khan appears to be obsessed with Floyd Mayweather and his pursuit is understandable. Mayweather is the golden ticket and star of world boxing, but there’s a fair chance that particular ship has sailed.

His religious commitments and inability to clinch that signature win seems to be holding Khan back. He needs to remove the stabilisers, it’s the only way to get to Mayweather.