Will Las Vegas set Khan on the way to being a world star?

James Popsys09 December 2010 - 11:02



Sin city, the Mecca of Boxing, the ideal stage on which to make a statement to the world. It's true to say that topping the bill of a Las Vegas show is a prize in itself, but this weekend Amir Khan has the opportunity to truly announce himself on the world stage, when he meets Marcos Maidana in the third defence of his WBA light-welterweight world title, at Mandalay Bay in the early hours of Sunday morning.

There are plenty who still have doubts about the Bolton boxer. Over recent years world titles have become old news at the very top of the game, with pound-for-pound rankings taking priority, so Khan’s credentials as a WBA Light-Welterweight world champion and Olympic silver medallist are yet to win over a large proportion of the boxing media who remain to be convinced that he can cut it at the highest level.

Prescott still haunts Khan's legacy

Despite frankly dazzling performances since his move to the Wild Card boxing gym in LA, many still cite the loss to Prescott as the defining fight of the Bolton boxer’s career to date. However, should Khan defeat Maidana this weekend, that could change.

An assured performance against the dangerous, hard-hitting Argentine in the fight capital of the world is the sort of result that stops critics from harking back to past mistakes, to looking forward towards future greatness. The prize is clear then, but so is the risk.

Maidana Khan's biggest test

Maidana was probably Khan’s most dangerous option, but both the Bolton boxer and his promoters Golden Boy are keen to put to bed whispers of the 23-year-old ducking opponents, and a solid, convincing win in this fight will do just that.

Khan labelled his loss to Breidis Prescott in September 2008 a ‘blessing in disguise’, that can’t be argued with. Since being taken under the wing of Freddie Roach, Khan hasn’t put a foot wrong, getting his shot at a world title only two fights after his destroying loss. Yet, Marcos Maidana is arguably a bigger blessing. The Argentine has a punch and a heart that has the respect of boxing fans and writers worldwide, and with that power comes the ability to clinch victory from the jaws of defeat with a single body shot. It is for this reason that a knockout victory for Khan in this fight would make a huge statement.

The danger of Maidana has sold this fight well, but Khan is much too good to be outboxed by the slower, less skillful fighter, and should he manage to keep the Argentine at the end of his jab, there is really only likely to be one winner.

When you consider that Khan was labelled by some as the next Audley Harrison after his only loss to-date, and now looks set to become Britain’s best boxer at the expense of the soon-to-retire David Haye, the all-British heavyweight ‘clash’ of a few weeks ago does a rather good job in highlighting Khan’s progress since his move to the wild card gym.

Not surprisingly, bookmakers make Khan the favourite to come out on top in his Vegas debut. Yet, Maidana’s pound-for-pound punching power gives him at least a puncher's chance against any opponent, especially one who has faced questions over the durability of his chin, such has been the chief criticism of Khan.

Super-fights loom

Las Vegas is far from the undisputed fight capital of the world in the eyes of battle hardened fans who visit York Hall on the weekly basis, and many question who created the unrivalled atmosphere at fights such as Hatton v Mayweather? There is undoubtedly a great passion for the sport in Britain, but in Boxing money talks, and a win on HBO in Vegas would propel Khan to new highs.

In two fights time, the Bolton boxer could be the undisputed champion in what is currently viewed by many as the sport's toughest division. Such an accolade will not go unnoticed by the likes of Floyd Mayweather - somewhat famous for fighting and dismantling the world’s best fighters from lighter divisions.

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