Amir Khan had to survive a late onslaught from big hitting Marcos Maidana to win a real heart in the mouth battle of courage, heart, determination, fantastic skill and a granite jaw to take a points win to retain his WBA light-welterweight belt at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.
In a fight that will be put forward in the shortlist for fight of the year,Khan showed the world that he has the heart, endurance and chin to go with his wonderful honed skills, blistering speed of punch and slight of foot.
Khan dropped the rugged Maidana with 10 seconds left in the first round, with a rib crunching body shot that resonated through the Argentinian’s soul and he grimaced in pain as he crumbled to the canvas.
Maidana looked like he would not get up, such was the painful script written on his face, but this guy is made of teak and rose at the count and was able to recover from the shot, Maidana looked there for the taking, but survived the last moments to see out the round, the minutes rest proved enough for him to recover from the knockdown and re-group.
Khans boxing at times was sublime, his text book turning of Maidana on the ropes and switching his attacks were that of real class and at times took the rugged Maidana to school, but the drama was yet to come.
Maidana had a point deduction by referee Joe Cortez in the fifth round, for
throwing an elbow in frustration. Maidana couldn’t get near Khan, who used good footwork and movement to stay out of range of Maidana’s punches, making his challenger look crude at times.
Khan showing a real maturity in his boxing, exploding from being his tight defense with precision punches to dazzle Maidana for the first half of the fight..
Maidana’s confidence grew in the sixth, when he notably shook Khan, who proceeded to smile and wave his hands as if to say, ‘that didn’t hurt’ but that is usually when they are, and he was, but again was able to gather his senses to end the round well with a hard right hand.
Maidana had a big seventh round as he stalked Khan around the ring, looking to explode his viscous uppercuts on the Bolton champions chin and succeeded in doing so a few times as well as a couple of bowling right hands that hit the target and had Khan looking to hold.
Khan again came back to take the momentum in the eighth and everyone watching were on tender hooks as to just which way this fight would swing, and with visions of Khan getting knocked out by Breidis Prescott in mind, every punch of Maidanas were being met by oohs! every time one smashed off Khans temples and chin..
But this wasn’t Khan the boy from a few years back, the slight naive lightweight who got caught cold by Prescott, this was Khan the man, a boxer who as dragged himself from that shocking defeat, to rule the world as the light-welterweight King, a brave pugilist in the prime of his boxing life, who threw away any doubts about his claim as the best in the division and stepping up to take on and outwork his mandatory challenger and prove his Lancashire grit.
Khan, got back behind his jab in the eight and, the ninth, and was back on his toes against what appeared to be a punched-out Maidana, as Khan boxed effectively and from a distance, drilling home rights and lefts and circling behind his jab.
The big swinging Maidana seemed to be close to stopping Khan during a dramatic 10th round, throwing everything but the kitchen sink at the champion, who was visibly hurt, but stood up to everything Maidana had, absorbing every shot and braving the boxing depths, that make a good champion a great champion, Khan passed every test, fighting back from the brink of defeat to regain his composure and survive the artillery coming from the Argentine.
Khan looked very tired at the start of the 11th and had to dig deeper than he as ever done before. But just when Maidana thought he was having things his own way, Khan exploded again with smashing right hands to stop Maidana in his tracks, this fight was living up to all the hype and more and both had given everything.
Maidana fought the last round knowing he needed the knockout, and went for it with gusto, swarming attacks from Maidana had Khan covering up, before coming back with his own work to end a brilliant fight with a grandstand finish of combination punches to seal the win and retain his belt in.
Khan’s improved his record to 24-1, with 17 knockouts; Maidana’s dropped to 29-2 with 27 knockouts. Next in line for Khan looks like being the winner of unbeaten US fighters Devon Alexander (21-0 13 knockouts) and Tim Bradley (26-0 11 knockouts) who clash on Saturday, January 29, 2011
“I’m sure that everyone who was watching thought about my chin. they said that Amir Khan had no chin. But I made a mistake in my past, and now, I’m a different fighter.” said Khan.
“I’m training with Freddie Roach and my conditioner Alex Ariza, I’ve come back stronger than ever. I was hit by Maidana’s best shots, and I was still there.”
“At times I was hurt, but I had to dig deep and come back, but that’s boxing for you, but I fight with heart and I’ve got skill. If you are going to go into shower your gonna get wet, if you go into a boxing ring your gonna get hit and I took his best shots and I came back stronger.” Khan added.
Unanimous decision judges scores were 114-111 twice and 113-112 all in favor of Khan.
By Chris Maylett
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