Solid Khan shows no mercy against outclassed Williams

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A different Amir Khan arrived in Liverpool last night than the brawler who showed up 12 days ago in Preston.

A different Amir Khan arrived in Liverpool last night than the brawler who showed up 12 days ago in Preston.

Khan was back to his far more fluent winning ways and midway through the third round his Amateur Boxing Association North West Counties final at 64 kilograms against Steve Williams was halted on amateur boxing's so-called "mercy rule". It meant that Khan was 20 clear points in front and that there was little point in allowing the contest to continue.

Once again a capacity crowd packed every seat, every aisle and every inch of floor space to watch the Olympic silver medallist. Twelve days ago in Preston Khan boxed twice and 3,000 people paid to watch and last night there supposed to be just 2,000 people in attendance but I suspect the true figure was closer to 4,000.

Much has been written and said about Khan's poor performance 12 days ago when he was knocked down in one fight and ended another with his nose bleeding and his clothes soiled with his own blood.

From that torrid and unforgettable night, he allowed his heart to rule his head and control his fists but last night he returned to the cold style that helped him in Athens.

Williams never looked comfortable from the opening bell and was trailing heavily by the end of the first round. Khan was not interested in knocking him down or knocking him out, all he was interested in was taking him apart, getting enough points and winning with as little risk as possible.

"A lot of people were critical after the fights in Preston and I think that some people were unduly harsh to be honest with you,'' Khan's coach, Mick Jelley, said at the Bury club. Perhaps Jelley does have a point but boxing is a fairly unforgiving game and its press have a justified reputation for telling the truth.

The truth is that 12 days ago in Preston, Khan looked awful and fought like a fool but last night at the Olympia on the outskirts of the city he seldom put a foot wrong, wasted a punch or lost sight of a fight that he dominated like a seasoned campaigner.

"I have been trying to tell people for a long time that winning the ABA title is not as easy as people think. All of the fighters who are at my weight think they can beat me and try to beat me,'' Khan said.

"What I have to do is win and as I have said before, I am treating the ABA the same as I treated the World junior championships or the Olympic Games,'' Khan continued.

There will only be an eight-day break for Khan before he makes the journey from Bolton to Lowestoft for the quarter-final of the ABA where he will meet Canvey Island's James Martin.

At present, the fight is scheduled to take place at the Ocean Rooms, a venue with a capacity of just over 400 but after the crowds in Preston and here last night, there is every reason to believe that a larger and safer venue can be found so that Khan's 1,000 or so travelling fans can have somewhere to sit even if they prefer to stand.