Boxing: Khan sweeps past Kindelan on road to riches
Monday 16 May 2005
Amir Khan's win over Cuba's Mario Kindelan was not pretty. But then, so few great fights are pleasant on the eye.
Late on Saturday night, in front of 2,000 passionate fans, Khan delivered the unexpected with a one-sided points win against the ageing idol from Havana, and when it was over both boxers announced that they had finished with the amateur game.
Twice last year Kindelan barely broke a sweat to beat Khan, but, in the bowels of the Reebok Stadium, Khan was simply too young for him.
There were even suggestions that Kindelan had not tried. Having seen the double Olympic champion fight more than 20 times, and having watched closely on Saturday night, I can confirm that Kindelan tried as hard as possible. He simply never stood a chance against Khan, and against the ageing process.
Now Khan, with a successful revenge mission live on ITV as a calling card, will embark on a professional career under the guidance of Frank Warren. The pair will enter the business part of the relationship on either 15 or 16 July, when the teenage Lancastrian will be the main attraction on the night that Danny Williams and Matt Skelton fight for the British heavyweight title at the ExCel Arena in London's Docklands.
At the same time as Khan was kissing and hugging his family, Kindelan left the ring with his Cuba hooded top pulled over his head. Minutes later he announced that after 18 years and 311 fights, he was retiring.
"I have no regrets about leaving the sport and I lost tonight to a great fighter,'' said Kindelan, who was close to tears as he hugged his sister, Ana, who happens to live in Carlisle.
Khan, 18, had followed Kindelan all over the ring twice last year and never really come close to defeating the gold-toothed icon from the Caribbean island. But on Saturday night there was truly something special in the air and from the opening seconds it was obvious that Khan's preparation had been perfect.
Wherever Kindelan went Khan had been and whenever Kindelan stopped Khan started. It was a wonderful and intriguing fight but it was not, it has to be said, the slugfest that many will soon demand of the doe-eyed teenager.
"I plan to leave boxing at 25 after winning world titles, because I don't want to keep taking punishment,'' said Khan.
Now that he has left the amateur sport and turned his back on a second attempt at Olympic glory in Beijing he has been set the task of winning a world title before he turns 21.
"I sincerely believe that it will be possible for Amir to win a world title very quickly and to keep it for a very, very long time because he is a rare talent," said Warren.
Thankfully, Khan and Warren simultaneously put an end to six months of speculation by announcing that they would be working together as promoter and boxer in the professional business.
There were moments in Saturday's four-round fight when it was hard to imagine that Kindelan, 33, had not lost for 45 fights and that he was, in many ways, the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. Khan made him look like an old man at times and there were even moments when the Cuban idol looked lost under the neon lights and appeared thoroughly dazed and confused.
Now that Khan has gained revenge for his Olympic defeat last August he will have to get his head and body ready for the type of men he will meet as a professional once he removes his vest and moves full-time under the spotlight of publicity.
He is unlikely to meet anybody as good as Kindelan for a very long time, but he will meet brutalised men with solid chins and the ability to survive against tremendous odds and still be standing and smiling after six or eight rounds.
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