Boxing: Warrior Khan comes of age in debut demolition job

British Olympic star gives first Stateside opponent a punishing lesson to open up rocky road to TV riches

Amir Khan has finally crossed over from being the wide-eyed boy from the Athens Olympics: he is now officially a slightly bruised man with a fighter's brain to go with his skills.

On Saturday night in the basement at New York's Madison Square Garden he conducted a masterclass in maturity to persuade the referee, after 11 one-sided rounds, finally to intervene and save the local fighter Paulie Malignaggi from his own bravery. It was a delightful rather than spectacular American debut for Khan, but it was still an impressive and calculating win.

Malignaggi deserved to be saved far more than he had been worthy to challenge Khan for the World Boxing Association light-welterweight title, which is not to say it was a callous mismatch. It was simply a great bit of business to get Khan established in the US in a fight screened on HBO, which remains the sport's wealthiest backers.

Khan is, at 23, a world champion and an HBO fighter, and that is a combination both to be celebrated and feared in the boxing world. The satellite TV giant pays good money, and has the lucrative pay-per-view arm at its disposal, but it demands in return hard fight after hard fight from its featured men.

To add to Khan's future negotiating headaches there are several fighters available and willing to test his credibility and fulfil HBO's strict matchmaking policy; a policy many in the sport consider to be both harmful and invasive. The two other champions at his weight – Tim Bradley, who holds the World Boxing Organisation version, and Devon Alexander, the International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Council champion – are both unbeaten and ready. There is also Argentina's Marcos Maidana, Khan's leading contender at the ridiculously pliable WBA, and finally Juan Manuel Marquez, the veterans' veteran, both of whom the HBO suits would accept.

At present it is possible to argue that Khan is one of the purest boxers at the elite level, with a classic jab and a defensive-minded approach that only the best fighters have a grasp of. On Saturday night he slowly ruined the hyped ambitions of Malignaggi, who had about five minutes of joy when the fight started before suffering a slow and predictable beating until the ref's arms thankfully separated him from Khan's accuracy. Ricky Hatton, incidentally, looked a lot better when he stopped Malignaggi in the same 11th round 18 months ago, and perhaps Hatton will rue his decision to drink instead of boxing again because a fight with Khan would set UK box-office records.

Khan is fortunate to have Golden Boy as his American promoter, a company with a huge amount of influence and power inside HBO, but even Richard Schaeffer, the chief executive at Golden Boy, will need to look deep into the pool of hype to deliver Khan in a fight without Bradley, Alexander, Marquez or Maidana in the opposite corner. The retired Swiss banker has the power to pluck magic from the darkening pool, but might struggle to persuade Khan, a genuine warrior, to take a safe route.

Schaeffer is likely to push for Victor Ortiz, who had a good win on Saturday night in Khan's shadow, but was stopped as an amateur by the British boxer and last year quit when he was taking a tanking from Maidana.

Sadly, there was no fairy-tale ending in the other world title fight involving a Briton on Saturday when Kevin Mitchell was stopped on his feet in round three by the WBO interim lightweight champion Michael Katsidis in front of nearly 20,000 at Upton Park.

The fight was fantastic for the neutral to watch – not that there were many in that crowd – because of the instant savagery that followed the emotional ring entrances. However, Mitchell's plan for victory required him to take his time and pick his shots, but instead he was put under intense pressure by the quality Australian's punches and movement from the opening bell until the stoppage. "It's not the end for me," insisted a stunned Mitchell. "A lot of good fighters have lost and I will come back stronger and I will beat Katsidis – he got it right tonight, good luck to him." The journey back for Mitchell will be as difficult as Khan's future.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine