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The Insignificance of the Amir Khan 39-Second Showcase

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The Insignificance of the Amir Khan 39-Second Showcase

 

It means nothing.

That’s the takeaway from Amir Khan’s 39-second demolition of Phil Lo Greco on Saturday night at the Echo Arena in Liverpool. Khan, the lightning-fast UK fighter with complementary long arms, rebounded nicely from a May 2016 knockout loss to Canelo Alvarez, but the talent vacuumed Lo Greco was absolutely no match for Khan, one of the most physically gifted fighters in the sport of boxing.

One wonders at such a spectacle: what is the point? Why would Khan be pitted against such a hapless and hopeless prey? The banter surrounding the promotion prefight had absolutely nothing to do about how the fight might actually turn out. That’s never a good sign. Khan, returning from middleweight to the welterweight division to which he so suredly belongs, was simply too fast, too accurate and too skilled for a fighter like Lo Greco to compete against.

Ah, but this is boxing. There is no such thing as fair play in so brutal of system, and the truth of the matter is that Saturday had nothing to do with Lo Greco at all but rather the future plans Khan’s handlers have for their fighter going forward.

But what might that be?

Khan is a brilliant spectacle of a fighter. His hands move with otherworldly speed and accuracy. He’s an offensively aggressive bullwhip whose entire strategy basically revolves around pouring down heaps of fisticuffs upon his opponent’s head and body until he’s drowned the man in overwhelmedness. And he does the work at such a torrid and terrific pace that hardly any normally athletic person is able to keep up with him.

So against a fighter like Lo Greco, Khan appears to be legitimately elite.

But Khan’s achilles heel is two-fold. First, Khan does not understand that pace and rhythm are important subsets of any valid offensive scheme. He throws just about all his punches as fast and as furiously as he’s capable, and while that’s good enough to beat most of the decent professional prizefighters he’s apt to face on the way up (or back up) the divisional rankings, the cream of the boxing crop will almost always be able to adjust to such tactics with good timing and precise skill.

Or as most people put it, timing beats speed.

Second, and perhaps less important to the matter but still at least a very good part of Khan’s quandary, is the durability of his chin. Whether he doesn’t possess strong enough neck muscles to keep his from head snapping back to the point of losing consciousness or rather is simply so keen on dishing out his own offense that he doesn't see his opponent’s punches coming back at him in time, Khan’s chin is certified glass.

So while Khan’s exceptionally quick knockout of a punching bag with arms like Lo Greco is sure to revitalize interest in the 32-year-old’s fighting career among the public, the truth of the matter is even this kind of convincingly dominant performance should do very little by way of cementing his status as a true contender in a talent-laden welterweight division.

Oh sure, he can compete with the also-ran’s at 147, and might even find himself in both lucrative and fan-friendly matchups against somewhat notable opponents. But is there anyone in boxing who gives him an honest chance against the likes of Errol Spence or Terence Crawford?

Perhaps it’s high time for an all-England affair against fellow UK notable Kell Brook. Indeed, most fans and media seem to be keen on seeing that fight happen, and it’s high time it did. The two have bantered back and forth in the media about such a matchup for so long that we’ve all lost interest in the bout and gained it back again at least four or five times now.

But anyone who believes Khan is a legitimate threat to any of the top welterweights right now, specifically Spence, Crawford, Keith Thurman, Danny Garcia (who knocked out Khan in 2012) and maybe even Shawn Porter, needs to remember this one very important thing about the fighter.

Khan has never really improved as a fighter.

Since medaling in the 2004 Olympics and bursting onto the professional scene in 2005, the only thing Khan has added to his game is taking a beating. Sure, he looks flashily brilliant against the likes of Lo Greco and other lower level dregs who make a living in the sport by playing opponent to money fighters like Khan, but against better competition he’s simply not what he claims to be.

And against the very elite welterweights? The ones who roam around in the upper echelon of 147 in 2018? Khan is today what he’s always been: a showy, heavily promoted fighter who can look good against a certain level of competition but will always fail against the very best.

 

Kelsey McCarson covers boxing for NY Fights, The Sweet Science, Gambling.com and Bookies.com. He also hosts a YouTube show about boxing with his wife, Rachel McCarson, called "Real Talk with Kelsey and Rachel".