If Amir Khan Retires, How Will He Be Remembered?



If Amir Khan Retires, How Will He Be Remembered?

What do we make of the career of Amir Khan? I’m not saying we should assume Khan is done fighting after his sixth-round KO loss to Kell Brook, but logically, it’s fair to assess his legacy now.

To be fair, I had kind of forgotten about Khan. Although, if one were interested in cutting me some slack, Khan had not fought since July of 2019, before taking a beating at the gloves of Kell Brook Saturday night. A two and a half year layoff for a 35-year-old man is a significant stretch.

Photo Credit: BOXXER

And look, even after the beating Brook gave Khan, I’m not suggesting we’ve seen the last of the Pakistani fighter, only that maybe we should have. Khan has been in the pro game for 16 years now, and for all his gifts (hand speed and boxing skill set), he is defined by his one detriment: a jaw made of crystal.

I don’t mean to say that Khan is a bad fighter or that he made for lackluster fights; on the contrary, Amir Khan often fought the best of the best, and his vulnerability in those scraps made his bouts something on the level of must-see TV. An Amir Khan fight was never boring. The reason for that was not only because of his legit talent but also because of his weaknesses. Khan could knock a man out, but when facing A+ level opposition, he could be knocked out.

And you have to give Khan credit; not only did he fight a murderer’s row, but sometimes he won too. Khan can look back on his career and point to victories over such top-flight opposition as Marco Antonio Barrera, Paulie Malignaggi, Marcos Maidana, Zab Judah, Carlos Molina, Julio Diaz, Luis Collazo, and Devon Alexander. Those are some quality scalps.

However, if we are being honest, Amir Khan is by and large defined by his defeats. That soft chin of his led to losses to the relative journeyman Breidis Prescott, as well as A-listers Lamont Peterson, Danny Garcia, Canelo Alvarez, Terence Crawford, and now, Kell Brook (whose resume deserves a second look, by the way).

The question is, looking at Khan’s face at the end of his six-round TKO loss to Brook, should he fight again? And if not, if this is the end of Khan’s career (and for his own sake, I would argue in favor of a departure from the fight game), AGAIN WHAT DO WE MAKE OF HIM AS A FIGHTER?

Graphic by ESPN Ringside

Much like Shawn Porter, I would say he falls in the Hall of Very Good, but not great. Khan is a fine fighter who touched greatness but never held it in his hand for long. Why? Because his chin is made of glass, and there are no defining victories on his resume.

This fact (as I see it) doesn’t make Khan a bad guy. Although his pre-fight implications that Brook may be gay are not only untoward (there’s nothing wrong with being gay), but not exactly complimentary towards his own character. I’m willing to see that fopah as Khan getting over his skis and pushing too hard to make noise for the fight against Brook, but that doesn’t make it any less disgusting.

In the end, Amir Khan is what we saw—a never boring fighter who only touched the hem of the garment of the A+ level but never actually belonged.