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MANILA, Philippines - A world champion in multiple weight divisions. A fast -- maybe the fastest in the game -- boxer slash puncher. Possesor of ring smarts.
Yet never has a fighter needed more re-inventing than does Amir “King” Khan (26-3, 18KO).
You would think that a fighter with talent levels that leap right off the charts would have it all figured out by now but after 26 professional victories, Khan has yet to establish his identity as a prizefighter.
Tools for success
He’s got the tools to succeed in the fight game.
Khan has unbelievable speed, the kind that mesmerizes you when you actually see it first-hand. Training with Manny Pacquiao himself, he makes the Pinoy icon look a tad bit under-clocked – and that says a lot given the speed demon Pacquiao is.
The power is certainly there.
With 18 knockouts, Khan’s power draws from his great posture and textbook technique when throwing punches.
It has resulted in some spectacular stoppages throughout his young career. With Khan, you can’t blink for even a second. He has the potential to end fights with his explosiveness and blindingly fast combinations.
Yet beneath all his strengths lies a terrible weakness – his perceived ‘glass chin.’ It’s the worst thing to have in this profession, the inability to take a punch.
The ultimate weakness
Boxing is a violent and oftentimes cruel sport, unforgiving always.
Fighters lay it all out on the line for their families and their futures. They put their lives at risk.
Some can withstand even the most damaging of power punches: fighters like Antonio Margarito and Israel Vasquez, to name a few. Others like Khan can take very little.
It’s not just his weak chin that comes into play whenever he gets tagged with a meaningful shot. More so, it’s his poor recovery that usually does him in.
Some say it can be attributed to genetics, that it’s just a matter of what Khan was born with. Others say it’s a lack of defensive awareness.
They say the punch you don’t see is the one that gets you. Khan is sometimes so focused on offense that he completely forgets about protecting himself.
When Amir Khan got destroyed by unheralded Breidis Prescott back in 2008, he was a young and exciting prospect that was new to the sport. He was promising indeed, but raw.
Immediately after that setback, Khan searched for answers, iand joined Hall-of-Fame trainer Freddie Roach’s Wild Card Gym.
End of the road
It’s no secret what Freddie Roach has done for the kid.
Roach gave Khan all the essentials he needed to maximize his talents, to utilize his raw speed and athleticism – and to put him in the best position possible to deliver his exciting knockout blows.
But Roach is more an 'offense first' kind of guy, and perhaps it’s high time for Khan to find a new trainer, someone who can teach him a thing or two about defense.
Freddie Roach is a great trainer, no doubt. But replicating the success he had with Manny Pacquiao was never going to be easy, and Khan just doesn’t seem to fit the mold of the fiery Filipino.
Maybe one day, Khan will be able to find that perfect balance between offense and defense to be able to attack full force and burn on all cylinders without neglecting the basic principle of the sweet science – to hit and not get hit.
It may seem unthinkable, maybe even blasphemous – but perhaps Floyd Mayweather Sr. could teach Khan a thing or two about slipping punches. Other noteworthy trainers are available, who would perceivably welcome the talented pugilist to their stable – trainers like Emmanuel Steward and Robert Garcia.
Khan has lost his last two fights now, with the most recent one via shocking TKO. Opponents are starting to figure out his style to the point where it becomes almost predictable.
Changing trainers could be just what the doctor ordered and there would be no hard feelings between Roach and Khan. Elite fighters like Miguel Cotto and Nonito Donaire have changed trainers multiple times, and they’ve both done considerably well.
In the end, Boxing is still a business and you have to put yourself in the best position to become successful. Sometimes changing trainers, changing styles, is the best way to mix it up.
No other fighter needs it more now than Amir Khan.
To save his career, Khan needs to say goodbye to Freddie Roach, thank him for all the help, and move on to bigger, and better things. - Rappler.com
Carlos Cinco is Rappler's boxing analyst. Read his boxing stories at www.fightcardboxing.net and follow him on Twitter: @CarlosCincoFCB. All opinions expressed in this article are his own.