Boxing: Hard-fought win hands Khan valuable lesson

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The Independent Online

It has taken Amir Khan just 10 months to discover how difficult the business of professional boxing can be.

Khan turned professional last July with his Olympic silver medal in his pocket and a smile on his face and, during his first six fights, he barely broke sweat and never put a foot wrong.

On Saturday night in Belfast, in front of 6,500 people at the King's Hall, Khan finally had to prove himself against an opponent who refused to fall over and was still there throwing punches at the end of six rounds.

There is no doubt that Khan is an exceptional talent and his 60-55 points decision over Laszlo Komjathi only reinforced what people in the business have known for a long time.

Komjathi, 30, entered the ring having lost 10 of his 35 fights but statistics in the business of boxing can be manipulated in either direction and the Hungarian was a quality operator. Of his 10 defeats, only one was by a genuine stoppage and that was against the world-ranked Italian Giuseppe Lauri.

Khan, who is still only 19, did not lose a round and even when he moved into previously unexplored territory at the start of round five, when he was clearly tired, he still kept his head, stayed calm and generally made every punch tell.

However, it was equally obvious that what he needs are far more men like Komjathi in the opposite corner because to progress from Olympic silver medallist to young boxing idol and then to real boxing stardom a fighter needs competition and that is exactly what Khan had on Saturday.

Komjathi had clearly studied tapes of Khan and kept his hands high and his body moving away from the teenager's punches. Had Khan known slightly more than he has managed to pick up in less than a year of working with his professional trainer, Oliver Harrison, he would have thrown fewer punches, danced slightly less and moved his feet closer. In many ways he is still a novice in this harsh world but several fights against men like Komjathi would undoubtedly improve him.

When it was over, Khan for the first time looked a little tired but perhaps Frank Warren, his manager and promoter, summed up the performance best when he said: "Amir is still a kid, he's only been a professional 10 months and he handles the pressure of being a star better than any fighter I've worked with. He is a great learner and this was a great learning fight.''

On the same bill, local fighter Eamonn Magee fought with a degree of negativity that was both annoying and bewildering to lose his World Boxing Union welterweight title to Takaloo, who was born in Iran but raised in Margate, over 12 tedious rounds.

Meanwhile, on Friday night in London, Commonwealth Games gold medallists Frankie Gavin and Jamie Cox helped England beat Russia 7-2 in the first of many international amateur boxing tournaments planned for 2006.

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