Amir Khan overcomes Marcos Maidana in exciting decision victory

December 12, 2010 in Boxing by pacejmiller

In what could be a potential candidate for fight of the year, talented Brit Amir Khan defeated gritty Argentine Marcos Maidana by a close but unanimous decision with the scores 114-111 (twice) and 113-112.  Khan knocked Maidana down in the first round with a couple of thudding body shots and Maidana had a point deducted for using his elbow in the fifth round — and those two 10-8 rounds proved to be the difference in the end.

Salivating matchup

This was a junior welterweight bout (140 lbs) for Khan’s WBA title, and it was a fascinating fight because Khan (24-1, 17 KOs), for all his talent and speed, has a questionable chin after being knocked out in 54 seconds by Breidis Prescott in Khan’s 19th professional fight.  And of course, Maidana (29-2, 27 KOs) is considered one of the, if not the hardest puncher in the 140lb division.

However, since Khan’s devastating defeat, he had won five straight fights in dominating fashion, in part due to him hiring the same team that made Manny Pacquiao the no. 1 pound-for-pound boxer in the world (trainer Freddie Roach and conditioning coach Trevor Ariza). So while Khan may have been the favourite in this fight, no one was taking Maidana for granted, and many thought there was no way Khan would be able to withstand Maidana’s heavy fists for 12 rounds.

Action packed bout

This was an exciting, action-packed fight from start to finish.  Khan clearly had the advantage in hand and foot speed, but Maidana sure could take a punch, and there was no doubt he could hurt Khan if he landed the right shot.  And so it was a game of cat and mouse — Maidana stalking and Khan doing his best Pacquiao impersonation, using his jab, firing rapid combos and getting out of the way.

Maidana gave Khan a bit of a scare in the opening round with a couple of big shots, but Khan was in control, dictating the distance with his jab and combinations.  Khan unloaded a couple of ripping body blows towards the end of that first round that dropped Maidana and had him rolling around in agony, but to his credit, Maidana not only got up, he managed to survive the round.

In the fifth round, Maidana, perhaps becoming more frustrated, tried to sneak in a backhanded elbow when the referee was trying to separate the two boxers.  It cost him a point.  At this stage, I would say Khan was in control, but Maidana was starting to look more dangerous.

Rounds six and seven belonged to Maidana the aggressor, as Khan looked like he was beginning to tire.  But then Khan turned the tables in rounds eight and nine to retake control with his rapid combos and skillful evasion.

Round 10 was the big one.  Khan was still doing his thing, dancing around and throwing quick punches, but out of nowhere Maidana threw a big right hand that tagged Khan on the chin — it buckled his legs and had Khan stumbling around the ring.  For the remainder of that round, Maidana busted Khan up and punched him all over the ring as Khan tried to tie up and cover up to survive.  While Khan blocked a lot of punches, the replays showed that he also got cracked with a few huge shots — shots no one ever thought he would be able to take.  That was a clear 10-8 round for Maidana because of Maidana’s dominance and how little Khan threw.

Just when I thought Maidana would finish Khan off the next round, Khan somehow came back alive in the second half of round 11 and clipped Maidana with some big shots of his own to claim the round.  Round 12 was another survival round for Khan, who looked absolutely spent and bleeding from the nose.  Khan was battered around a fair bit in the final round, but towards the end he landed a few good ones to keep Maidana honest.

My scorecard was 114-112 in favour of Khan (ESPN had it 116-109 for Khan, which I thought was too wide — despite eating a lot more punches, Maidana’s face was relatively unmarked by the end of the fight compared to Khan).

I gave six rounds to Khan and five rounds to Maidana with one round even (the fourth round, where both men had their moments).  Khan had two 10-8 rounds — the first where he knocked Maidana down, and the fifth because of the point deduction.  Maidana had a 10-8 round in the 10th, where he almost knocked Khan out.  So it was very very close — if Maidana didn’t get the point deduction and if I gave him round four, this would have been a draw on my card.

CompuBox stats: Khan — 273 of 603 punches (45 percent); Maidana — 156 of 767 (20 percent).

I’d love to see Khan take on the winner of the Alexander-Bradley winner.  This was an ugly win that showed us that Khan probably isn’t as technically sound as we thought he was, but at the same time it showed he has a much better chin and a much bigger heart than anyone gave him credit for.

Khan vs Pacquiao?

Khan said it himself that it would never happen — because both guys use Freddie Roach and Trevor Ariza.  Unless Khan wants to change camps, there’s no way this fight can happen.

I know Roach recently said Khan has more potential than Pacquiao (probably because Pacquiao has peaked while Khan is still improving) and that in sparring sessions Khan has sometimes gotten the better of Pacquiao, but if these two ever did lace up the gloves in a fantasy bout, I have no doubt Pacquiao would wipe the floor with Khan.

Khan’s only advantages are his youth (24), height (5’10”) and reach.  Khan is fast, but Pacquiao is much faster (in both hand and foot speed, especially in foot speed), throws sharper, longer and more accurate combos (Khan’s are more like Calzaghe’s ‘pitter-patter’ shots while Pacquiao’s bust people up), has better defense (Khan has very little head movement), power, experience, stamina, and is significantly better at creating angles.

Khan doesn’t have the same balance as Pacquiao, which is why he looked awkward at times against Maidana, and when he tries to back away he keeps moving in the same direction (and often into the ropes), whereas Pacquiao keeps turning his opponents in the middle of the ring.

Still, Khan is young and has a bright future ahead of him.  I’m not sold that he can be a superstar like Pacquiao, but if he keeps improving, he could certainly be a champion in multiple divisions for years to come.