Boxing: Cool Khan can thrive on star billing in Washington

 

It is thought that more than 9,000 people have paid to watch Amir Khan fight in Washington DC tonight, proving that the teenager from the Athens Olympics is finally, against the odds and reason, a global star of the ring.

Khan has been in the American capital before, when he walked the famous corridors and met, through official invite, Hillary Clinton. It is doubtful if that brief encounter helped shift tickets for his double world title defence against former street-child Lamont Peterson, at the Walter E Washington Convention Centre tonight. Khan is now a genuine main attraction on HBO, who dominate and control boxing in the United States, which remains the sport's most lucrative market. There is also a cheap ticket at $25, which would simply not be possible in Britain, to bring in any casual fans struggling to balance the books at Christmas.

Peterson lived rough, survived a torrid life on the capital's streets but now lives in Memphis and is virtually unknown in his hometown. However, it is Khan's presence on HBO and his desperate struggle and toe-to-toe fight last December against Marcos Maidana that has transformed him from quality British fighter to international boxer of acclaim.

Khan, now 25, has not changed from the tiny boy who boldly slugged his way to the Olympic final when he was just 17. His body has taken shape and been reshaped under a variety of conditioning experts since turning professional, but the boy has essentially remained hidden under the hardened muscles and increased facial hair. He was an innocent soul back then; now he is wiser but still as kind.

His passage from contender to television attraction and then sickening knockout victim has been told and re-told, as has his anonymous flit under the cover of night to Los Angeles and the retreat offered inside the filthy walls of Freddie Roach's gym. The boy from Bolton has most certainly done it his way and deservedly takes his place with the other big boys in the BBC's shortlist for this year's Sports Personality award.

Tonight he has to overcome a slick fighter whose only defeat in 31 fights was against Khan's rival Tim Bradley in a forgettable 12-rounder for the World Boxing Organisation's bauble. Bradley remains unbeaten but delusional about his financial worth in a showdown, which has now probably vanished for good, against Khan.

The bookies have for some reason taken the view that Khan is a massive favourite against Peterson, who is not struggling with the weight, has not been knocked out and is just two years older than Khan. It is one of the oddest pieces of bookmaking that I have seen regarding a British boxer in a world title fight in America. I can only assume that Khan's partnership with Roach and Oscar De La Hoya's Golden Boy company has altered his status in the eyes of the odds-makers and the American fans. He is most certainly not viewed as "the plucky Brit".

The reality is that both boxers can be caught, hurt and dropped in serious fights. There is a decent bet of about 10-1 that Khan ends up at some point on the canvas, gets up and wins. Peterson will also have the added motivation of knowing that he can jump above Khan in the disorderly line of fighters who have a chance of meeting either of the sport's cash cows: Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather Jnr.

There has been only refreshingly mild trash-talking from both camps and the overall tone has been respectful, which seems at odds with what will be a heaving crowd once the first bell sounds. It seems nice guys do sell and Peterson, who is attached to many homeless causes, has thankfully not bothered with the usual list of anti-British insults. I imagine it is quite daunting facing Khan across a table when on one elbow rests Roach, neatly balanced by De La Hoya's perfect smile on the other. It is not always this pleasant with Khan and when he met Bradley at a fight in May there was a word or two exchanged; it was only Khan talking: "I told him he needed to grow some balls. He never said a word, but some of his team started to get brave." Thankfully, in boxing there still exists a need for a crafted and valid comment and Khan seems to know when to open his mouth.

"I have looked at Amir's fights and the minute with [Breidis] Prescott is the one that matters," claimed Peterson. "When that fight was over, matchmaking was used as an excuse but it had nothing to do with that. That's the fight I've worked on." Prescott knocked Khan senseless in just over 60 seconds in September 2008; Khan flew to Roach's safe haven a few hours later.

"It seems that everybody I fight looks at the loss to Prescott and thinks that they can repeat what he did," said Khan. "I was different in so many ways then: no Freddie, different weight and a different approach to boxing. Let Lamont try like all the others have tried since that fight." Peterson will try and will fall short. Khan, however, will need to perform with more of his brain than his power before winning wide or stopping the American late. It will still be a hard, hard fight.

Tale Of The Tape

Lamont Peterson / Amir Khan

27 / Age / 25

Washington / Born / Bolton

Havoc / Nickname / King Khan

5ft 9 / Height / 5ft 10

188cm / Reach / 180cm

Orthodox / Stance / Orthodox

Title / IBF/WBA /World Super-Lightweight Champion (Amir Khan)

31 / Fights / 27

29 / Won / 26

15 / KOs / 18

1 / Lost / 1

Arts & Entertainment
The Honesty Policy is a group of anonymous Muslims who believe that the community needs a space to express itself without shame or judgement
music
News
Waitrose will be bringing in more manned tills
newsOverheard in Waitrose: documenting the chatter in 'Britain's poshest supermarket'
Life & Style
life
Arts & Entertainment
Back in the suit: There are only so many variations you can spin on the lives or adventures of Peter Parker
filmReview: Almost every sequence and set-up in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 seems familiar from some earlier superhero film
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Arts & Entertainment
Jack Gleeson as Joffrey Baratheon in Game of Thrones
tv
Life & Style
Father and son: Michael Williams with son Edmund
lifeAs his son’s bar mitzvah approaches, CofE-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys he’s experienced in learning about his family’s other faith
Arts & Entertainment
Ian Anderson, the leader of British rock band Jethro Tull, (right) and British guitar player Martin Barre (left) perform on stage
musicJethro Tull frontman leads ‘prog rock’ revival
Sport
Gareth Bale dribbled from inside his own half and finished calmly late in the final to hand Real a 2-1 win at the Mestalla in Valencia
sport
Arts & Entertainment
Who laughs lass: Jenny Collier on stage
comedy... writes Jenny Collier, the comedian whose recent show was cancelled because there were 'too many women' on the bill
News
House proud: keeping up with the Joneses now extends to children's playhouses
newsLuxury playhouses now on the market for as much as £800
News
news
Life & Style
Stir it up: the writer gets a lichen masterclass from executive chef Vivek Singh of the Cinnamon restaurants
food + drinkLichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines
Extras
indybest
Arts & Entertainment
Ken Loach (left) and Mike Leigh who will be going head to head for one of cinema's most coveted prizes at this year's Cannes Film Festival
filmKen Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
News
The academic, Annamaria Testa, has set out on her website a list of 300 English words that she says Italians ought to stop using
newsAcademic speaks out against 'Italianglo' - the use of English words in Italian language
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Apprentice IT Technician

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

Sales Associate Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit