Amir Commonwealth Champ but more work to be done
BOLTON boxer Amir Khan was crowned Commonwealth Lightweight Champion on Saturday but his far from perfect performance showed there was more work to be done if he fulfils his own dreams of reaching the top.
The 20-year-old disposed of Scottish Champion Wille Limond in front of a packed audience at the O2 Arena but not before he got a taste of the canvas when a ferocious volley of punches from Limond sent him tumbling to the ground in the sixth round.
Had Limond followed the onslaught with more intensity Khan may have woken up on Sunday reflecting his first loss as a professional fighter.
But as it was Khan stunned Limond in the next round and proved he does have what it takes to fulfil his dreams of becoming a world champion when he sent the Scottish champ crashing to the canvas.
That blow was to be decisive when at the end of the eighth round Limond’s corner pulled him out of the bout with a broken jaw and damaged nose.
Khan said he had the resolve to come back after his sixth round knock down.
“I was never worried when I got knocked down. That’s happened in the amateurs but I’ve got back up and come back stronger,” he said.
“That’s what I did – came back stronger. I got up straight away but the referee said I’ve got to wait for the eight-count.
“Willie came running at me and I just held him, thinking I’m not going to fight with him when, in fact, I could have fought with him.
“I knew he was going to put pressure on me. I had to move back in response but my mind was still working about how to cope with that.
“I moved around and a couple of seconds later I was back to normal again and I started picking my shots.
“After the knockdown I told myself to stop thinking about knocking him out. Start using the jab and to get into my rhythm.
“I was getting too anxious about trying to knock him out. The knockdown gave me that second wind. It focused my mind.
“I was thinking ‘There’s no messing about here, I’m going to get stuck in’. But I also kept my left hand high and my chin down.
“It’s a learning curve and it’s better the knockdown happened now than in the future against a better opponent.”
But Khan, who has spoken of his desire to be crowned world champion in the next 18 months, admitted it wasn’t his best performance.
“I got in trouble for keeping my hands low, my chin up and for lunging in with stupid shots,” said Khan. “But at least it’s happened now and not in the future against a better opponent. I got over- anxious and tried to knock him out too early and that’s when I was getting tagged. He’s tough and I caught him with some good shots that most lightweights wouldn’t have stood up to.
“I had the hunger in me, to get knocked down and come back stronger. I’ve learnt far more from this than if I’d knocked him out in the first round. It wasn’t the best performance, but I’ll go and have a look at the tape and see what I did wrong.”
And promoter Frank Warren admitted: “He won’t be challenging for a world title in the next five or six fights, that’s for sure. He got caught rushing in, chin up in the air and it took him five rounds before he started throwing uppercuts. That was the shot you had to throw to get Limond and it was an uppercut that did his jaw. I like to see fighters tucking up, keeping their chin down and picking their shots. That is what Amir has still not learned to do.”
Khan’s next fight has been pencilled in for October 6 where he will face former WBU lightweight champion Graham Earl of Luton.