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All on the Line

Amir Khan has earned our respect 

By John Zemel   - @intuboxing

If you asked a random person what the worst thing about boxing today is, you would end up getting a fairly predictable list of complaints. “All they do is dance and showboat!” “They’re too scared of their precious records being tainted so they won’t fight anybody!” “Nobody stands in there and trades shots, every fight feels like they’re just waiting for a decision!” While the more hardcore fans among us might roll their eyes or try to tell them that not all fights are like that, it is undeniably the impression that the casual fan has of the fight game today. That’s precisely what makes a guy like Amir Khan so special. He is the living embodiment of everything that the average fight fan says that they want. Despite that, he has been reduced in many people’s minds to a meme, a joke that fight fans can all enjoy as they laugh at his numerous knockdowns and knockouts. He deserves better.

Amir Khan first captured the boxing world’s attention at just 17 years old, when he became the youngest British boxer ever to win an Olympic medal. He kept his foot on the gas to start his professional career, capturing his first world title at 22 years old. In an era marred by padded resumes and protected records, Amir Khan has tested himself against the very best in the sport. Here’s the part that most people forget- he wins a lot more than he loses! He has victories against Hall of Famers like Marco Antonio Barrera and Marcos Maidana, as well as many other fighters who defined their era, such as Paulie Malignaggi, Zab Judah, and Devon Alexander. His losses, almost all by knockout, which have become such subjects of ridicule in the boxing world have come against great fighters like Danny Garcia or moving up two weight classes to fight Canelo Alvarez, the face of the sport. For all the acclaim that we gave Mikey Garcia for “daring to be great,” moving up to face Errol Spence, Amir Khan has made an entire career out of this mentality. Including wins and losses, there isn’t an active fighter with a more challenging resume whose name doesn’t end in Pacquiao. 

It isn’t just in picking opponents where Khan lays it all on the line. Many times in boxing, when a fighter knows that he is losing a fight that he feels he can’t win, he goes into defense mode and tries to survive and make it to decision. Amir Khan has never been one of these fighters. At enormous risk to his health, he continually leaves it all on the canvas in an attempt at victory until the final bell is rung, or all too often, his bell is rung. This Saturday, when he fights the man that many believe to be the greatest fighter in the sport, Terence Crawford, he has been given next to no chance by boxing fans and media alike. They are probably all correct. There’s levels to this game and Crawford appears to be on a much higher one than Khan has ever been. However, in a world where the biggest complaint against Crawford is that his resume leaves so much to be desired, a fighter like Khan should be celebrated for constantly challenging himself and daring to be great every step of the way. The boxing world will miss Amir Khan when he’s gone, so let’s all make sure we appreciate him while he’s here.