The tensions are high between Amir Khan and Andreas Kotelnik ahead of there bout in Manchester at the MEN Arena on July 18th. It doesn’t seem long ago that Khan was lying on his back staring up at the Manchester Arenas lights, having been knocked out in the first round by the relatively unknown Breidis Prescott.

But that was last September, and two wins for Khan since then, notably against the legend in Marco Antonio Barrera, again in Manchester, have propelled the Bolton lad to a shot at the respected WBA crown at light welterweight.

Amir will be stepping up a weight from his usual lightweight division to challenge current champion Kotelnik, and this is definitely a case of great work by Frank Warren in getting Khan this fight. There are arguments that Khan is rushing things in taking this fight, but if the opportunity is there any fighter would jump at the chance without question.

There has been talk in Manchester this week that the fight may be postponed again, and either local boy John Murray or even current WBA Welterweight champion Sugar”Shane Moseley (pictured left) may fly in from the states, but Frank Warren and Kotelniks trainer Michael Timm dismissed any rumor  The fight had already been rescheduled when Kotelnik pulled out because of a tooth infection, but after a quick trip to the dentist the fight is on.

The war of words and the proverbial pre fight stare for the press, to help sell tickets for the fight, all went on at today’s press conference but Khan seemed riled when Kotelnik suggested that he has been “pushed” and is in over his depth at this stage of his career. Kotenlik even quipped that he would do a better job on Khan than Prescott did.

“He was Knocked out by Breidis Prescott, he came back against a much smaller man and then he beat Marco Antonio Barrera on a cut in a fight that proved nothing,” he said.

“It didn’t show anything of him and I’m surprised he has been ranked by the World Boxing Association” 

Kotelnik who has never been stopped in a 34 fight professional career, did enough to get Khan into fight zone, if he wasn’t already, and he responded in confident mood, “If he is saying i am a kid then i will let my fists do the talking” he said.

“He’s going to be in for a shock. “If he thinks it is going to be an easy fight for him then he has got something else coming.

“It will be exciting but at the end of the day it will be me with the belt around my waist and we will see who the child is then.

“His trash talk has made me focused. I’m going to give him a boxing lesson. I am confident that I am going to be the teacher and show him what boxing is all about” 

I’m sure the plot will thicken before fight night and it will be interesting to see how Khan looks at the weigh in, and how well he will carry the extra weight. But Khan has a big frame for a Lightweight and if he can take his punching power with him, then Light welterweight could be a comfortable division for him, filling the boots of another recent Greater Manchester world light welterweight champion in Ricky Hatton and there is talk of a fight between Hatton and Khan in a big fight spectacular at Wembley stadium next year, that’s if Hatton decides to continue his illustrious career and his last hooray, watch this space! 

So Who Will Win? 

The Barrera fight proved regardless of the cut stoppage, that Amir Khan can box, in fact id go as far as to say, “He is one of the quickest naturally gifted boxers we have had.” but I’m sure there are many who might disagree.

I like Khan and believe he has got the tools needed to compete in world class. Of course the question marks still remain about Khan’s punch resistance, and knockers not only refer to the Breidis Prescott knockout loss, but also when he was wobbled to his boots, notably by Scotland’s Willie Limond and Manchester warrior Michael Gomez.
The only thing Khan can do is learn from his mistakes.

A loss has not always been a bad thing in a pugilists career, many greats have come back better fighters after a defeat, so time will tell. Teaming up with Freddy Roach was a great decision by Khan, and training and sparring with No1 pound for pound champion Manny Pacquiao, who is also trained by Roach in his Las Vegas Gym, can do nothing but good for him.

Training in America away from the distractions of home, will also have a positive effect on Khan and his mental preparation for the fight.

I watched Kotelnik lose a 12 round unanimous decision to Junior Witter in Nottingham, for the EBU (European) light welterweight title 2005. But even though he lost to Witter he gave a good account of himself and certainly can fight.

He also fought the seasoned Souleymane M’baye twice, losing the first on a controversial split decision and drawing in the rematch. He has a quick jab and a decent left hook and fights from a tight peek a boo style, Witter revealed the blue print 4 years ago on how to beat Kotelnik, and I’m sure Khan has studied this tape. With 15 knockouts from 20 fights Kotelnik’s punching power is not to be under estimated given the uncertainty of Khans chin and he can take a punch.

I feel Khan should feel Kotelnik out for the first few rounds without rushing in like against Prescott. Kotelnik is punch resistant having never been stopped as a professional and Khan will need to pick his way through Kotelnik’s high defense, work his body bringing his hands down. 

I see Khan eventually putting Kotelnik on the back foot. Witter took no chances against Kotelnic but boxed a smart fight on the outside. Khan wont do this he will be the one setting the tempo if he sustains a steady pressure on Kotelnik I see him forcing a late stoppage around the 9th round, being the first man to stop a brave resilient Kotelnik and answering a few questions whilst doing it.

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