Bunce on Boxing: Naive Team Khan taught a lesson in art of 'negotiation'

 

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The Independent Online

The fall-out and mock outrage from the Amir Khan fight at the weekend is a convenient smokescreen for a few unanswered questions about the fight and the days and hours before the first bell.

Some of the accusations that have been made about "fishy" scoring, incompetent refereeing and blanket bias are quite ridiculous. It was Don King who famously said that in boxing "you don't get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate". However, Khan and his team did get what they deserved by going to Peterson's backyard for a voluntary defence, and then agreeing to an inexperienced third man in the ring.

It would be nice to know if anybody in Khan's swollen entourage spoke to the referee at any point before the first bell to ask him to keep an eye on Peterson's head. Khan, remember, blamed the American's head for the reason he was pushing him away.

It would be nice to know if Peterson and his people spoke to the referee and warned him to watch for Khan's "constant pushing", which is how Paulie Malignaggi described it. "He kept pushing my head down just like that," Malignaggi said from ringside; his words were overlooked because they simply never fit the agenda of a fit-up.

The referee was not on Peterson's side and he was not anti-Khan. The fact remains that Khan continued to do something that he was told to stop doing and for that serial offence he was docked two points and lost the fight. I'm convinced that Peterson's people marked the referee's cards and that, I have to say, is not illegal. In other words, they did a bit of negotiating.

Once the referee started telling Khan to stop pushing it was simply a matter of time before a point deduction came. There is a solid argument that the ref let it got too far, even though the foul was not dangerous. The simple balance to a referee seemingly picking on your fighter is to create a counter argument. Mickey Duff, King, Frank Warren and Bob Arum are experts at this less than subtle bit of legal subterfuge.

Khan's corner of Freddie Roach and Alex Ariza, a lifestyle guru and boxing novice, needed to be hollering and screaming at the ref for him to watch Peterson's head. Duff would have grabbed the referee's leg during the break to give him a piece of his mind and Angelo Dundee would have spent more time in the referee's face in the ring than in Muhammad Ali's corner. Think Roy Keane and a few others after a dubious penalty call and times it about ten.

Khan will win the rematch in March in Las Vegas and it is doubtful if he will ever be quite so naive again in a fight – I just hope all the men in the Khan business learn from Saturday night because in a variety of ways they should all shoulder a bit of the blame.

Hopefully, Carl Froch will retain his world title when he fights unbeaten Andre Ward in Atlantic City in the final of the long and draining Super Six tournament on Saturday. The Super Six started in October 2009 and was due to end in April of this year and it has taken a brutal toll, with three of the original six having to withdraw.

However, the omens are not great for Froch, who has been forced on the road in three of his four fights so far in the tournament. There was an attempt to get Saturday's final in a neutral country but Ward, whose hefty nickname is Son of God, clearly has sway with the American TV paymasters. Ward has fought in his home state of California in every fight so far, including two in his hometown of Oakland.

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