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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
From Mean Girls to Mamet: Lindsay Lohan
theatre
Sport
Nathaniel Clyne (No 2) drives home his side's second goal past Arsenal’s David Ospina at the Emirates
footballArsenal 1 Southampton 2: Arsène Wenger pays the price for picking reserve side in Capital One Cup
News
Mike Tyson has led an appalling and sad life, but are we not a country that gives second chances?
peopleFormer boxer 'watched over' crash victim until ambulance arrived
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
tv
News
i100
Travel
travelGallery And yes, it is indoors
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
The Tiger Who Came To Tea
booksJudith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed'
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Sport
John Terry, Frank Lampard
footballChelsea captain sends signed shirt to fan whose mum had died
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Account Executive/Sales Consultant – Permanent – Hertfordshire - £16-£20k

£16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

KS2 PPA Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Worthing!

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...

IT Systems Manager

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

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Day In a Page

Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

BBC Television Centre

A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
Lonesome George: Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains

My George!

Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains
10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Pack up your troubles: 10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Off on an intrepid trip? Experts from student trip specialists Real Gap and Quest Overseas recommend luggage for travellers on the move
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world