by Rob Day
The ring announcer asked before the fight, “Are You Ready?”
That was the question most boxing observers and fans wanted to know regarding Amir Khan in, by far, his toughest test to date against hard hitting Argentine, Marcos Maidana. The fight was billed as ‘Thunder and Lightning’ and it more than lived up to the name.
The bout at the Mandalay Bay Casino in Las Vegas was for the right to be the only WBA Jr.Welterweight Champion. Khan was the defending Champion while Maidana was the ‘interim‘. The fight started at a good, swift pace and Khan moved and boxed well as he would for the majority of the bout then, with little time remaining in the round, Khan landed a beautiful left to the body and down went Maidana. The Argentine beat the count but looked in a lot of pain.
Khan controlled the second round with his movement and superior boxing skills, combined with his fast hands. Maidana finally got into the bout in the third, landing some fine, hard shots that Khan took well– he was already answering the question marks over his chin. Maidana would land a few times with uppercuts in the fourth stanza, but I gave the round to Khan, as his movement and boxing was winning him the rounds and once again he was taking shots well.
The fight had an electric feel about it, the speed of Khan combined with the danger of Maidana really made this an ‘edge of the seat’ kind of fight and the action was there, as the fight ebbed and flowed. Round 5 saw Maidana docked a point for an attempted elbow that actually hit referee Joe Cortez. I thought Cortez handled the whole fight well. The sixth saw Maidana putting on the pressure and landing well and the 7th was a dominant round for him as Khan appeared very tired and almost starting to wilt under the pressure. The Briton came back strongly in the 8th and it was Maidana that now looked tired – he’d used up a lot of energy in the previous round.
Amir got in more good boxing in the 9th and then got absolutely hammered around the ring in the 10th – how he didn’t go down, I’ll never know! He showed all the heart in the world to stay on his feet under the onslaught of Maidana, who threw the proverbial ’kitchen sink’ at him. I thought it would soon be ‘game over’ but Amir actually won the 11th in my book, as he clearly won the second half of the round and I scored for his more accurate punching overall. The 12th was too close to call and the energy levels were obviously low from both men after a fight that is a definite candidate for Fight of the Year.
The judges scorecards were judge: Jerry Roth 114-111 | judge: C.J. Ross 114-111 | judge: Glenn Trowbridge 113-112. I scored the bout 116-111 to Amir Khan and for me he was a worthy, well deserved winner in the toughest fight of his career.
I predicted before the bout that Maidana would win around round 8 – Well, I got that wrong . Amir Khan said a few months ago that he wanted to “silence his critics”, well he has certainly done that! He took some tremendous shots in this fight and he never left his feet, he showed ‘bucket loads’ of heart in the 10th round alone.
This was a magnificent fight between two World Class fighters who gave it everything and I take my hat off to both.