Boxing: Amir rockets into a world of opportunity

First-round stoppage in spectacular professional debut provides a rare talent with the perfect launchpad

The Amir Khan show saw him in the starring role at his hometown Bolton Arena last night with a one-round whirlwind defeat of the London lightweight David Bailey, a victory he dedicated to the victims of the London bombing. Somewhat ironic because the packed arena later had to be cleared in response to a bomb alert.

"This was all for London," the Olympic silver medallist had said, holding a Union Jack aloft. "Hopefully, we can all move on and forget about the past."

It was as much a statement as his choice of theme music for his ringwalk Land of Hope and Glory. Symbolic, too, for here is unquestionably boxing's brightest hope and, as his promoter Frank Warren concurred, professional glory awaits.

"I was a bit nervous because it was my first fight," Amir admitted. "I'm going to go home and watch the video and see how it was. I want to be one of the youngest British word champions ever and hopefully it will happen." He added: "This was the first one ­ it's getting closer and closer now."

Amir ended up heading the bill on his four rounds pro debut because of the late withdrawal of Danny Williams from his British heavyweight title challenge to Matt Skelton, who disposed of substitute Mark Krence in seven rounds for his 17th successive victory.

But this was Amir's night. No headguard, no vest and as usual no inhibitions in a blistering performance.

Southpaw Bailey, beaten three times in seven fights but never before stopped, was floored twice, the first time in 20 seconds, and suffered such a sustained blitz from the dancing, jabbing Amir that his corner tossed in the towel. This was ignored by referee Bill Edwards, who finally stepped in after 1min 49sec when Bailey was stunned by another sharp right hand.

ITV's new pundit Barry McGuigan, who has transferred from Sky ­ the BBC's John Rawling will be joining as ringside commentator when Amir boxes again in September ­ described it as the perfect professional debut.

Amir is a good Muslim in every sense, committed to his religion but proud of his British roots. He says he was appalled by the London bombings, and that for a time his concentration for last night's fight was disturbed. But he hoped that by stepping into the ring he could demonstrate to other youngsters of his faith, indeed "all the kids in Britain that there are better things to do with your life than getting into trouble and mixing with bad people".

His father Shah's Union Jack waistcoat became one of the familiar sights of Athens and Amir's family background has already laid impressively solid foundations for his future outside the ring. Now his next few performances must do the same inside it.

Like Amir, Williams is a Muslim ­ he converted from his Christian faith some five years ago ­ but there has been no suggestion that he suffered any distraction because of recent events.

A likeable though complex character, he is known in the trade as someone who has never really got his head round the sport, although he did get his act together for the demolition of Mike Tyson.

But subsequently he suffered a systematic pounding by Vitali Klitschko and promised that if he did not beat Skelton he would retire. Now he may have no option because Warren, his promoter and manager, says he will not use him again.

"I am disgusted with him." he said. It was a totally unacceptable situation. I was told he had been in bed all week with flu but he said nothing about it at the weigh-in on Friday. I believe the real reason is that his bottle went. We had a conversation but he said he didn't feel mentally right."

Even Williams' trainer, Jim McDonnell, admitted he had no idea anything was wrong until his fighter informed him he was withdrawing. "Danny prepared properly and he was in great shape but he took a couple of days out of the gym last week which I wasn't aware of. Apparently he took some medication and had two days in bed, then he went for a run and felt really bad."

There was clearly something wrong when Williams tipped the scales at 20st 3lb. Something was weighing heavily, maybe on his mind. It could be that, as Warren suggested, he did not relish being bullied and bustled by the ex-kick boxer from Bedford.

Instead that dubious privilege fell to the 28-year-old,6ft 5in Krence, a Chesterfield butcher stopped in his last fight (one of three defeats in 24 bouts) but who put up a credible performance in giving Audley Harrison plenty of trouble over six rounds three years ago.

Considering he took the bout at less than 12 hours notice Krence did well to survive seven one-sided rounds before his corner pulled him out, citing damaged ribs. He had come to compete and not just collect the biggest pay-day of his career.

With Skelton what you see is what you get, and it certainly isn't pretty. He is a roughhouse clubber, whose punches are cumulative rather than selective ­ one even managed to land inadvertently on referee Terry O'Connor, himself a former heavyweight.

Skelton said: "I know it was untidy but I got the job done. All credit to Mark for putting up such a good show."

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
A teenager boy wakes up.
life
Life and Style
It is believed that historically rising rates of alcohol consumption have contributed to the increase
food + drink
News
An Apple iPhone 6 stands on display at the Apple Store
businessRegulators give iPhone 6 and 6 Plus the green light
Arts and Entertainment
Critics say Kipling showed loathing for India's primitive villagers in The Jungle Book
filmChristopher Walken, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johanssen Idris Elba, Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett and Christian Bale
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Britain's internet habits have been revealed in a new survey
tech
Life and Style
Playing to win: for Tanith Carey, pictured with Lily, right, and Clio, even simple games had to have an educational purpose
lifeTanith Carey explains what made her take her foot off the gas
Arts and Entertainment
film
Arts and Entertainment
The White Sails Hospital and Spa is to be built in the new Tunisia Economic City.
architectureRussian billionaire designs boat-shaped hospital for new Dubai-style Tunisia Economic City
Arts and Entertainment
music
Life and Style
tech
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
A still from Duncan Campbell's hour-long film 'It for Others'
Turner Prize 2014
Life and Style
food + drink
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hadley in a scene from ‘Soul Boys Of The Western World’
musicSpandau Ballet are back together - on stage and screen
News
i100
Life and Style
Bearing up: Sebastian Flyte with his teddy Aloysius in Brideshead Revisited
lifePhilippa Perry explains why a third of students take a bear to uni
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Alan Sugar appearing in a shot from Apprentice which was used in a Cassette Boy mashup
artsA judge will rule if pieces are funny enough to be classed as parodies
Arts and Entertainment
film
News
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Trainee Helpdesk Analyst / 1st Line Application Support Analyst

£18000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Data Analyst / Marketing Database Analyst

£24000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

Science Teacher

£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Group: Science Supply Teacher position...

Day In a Page

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style