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Amir Khan Keys To Victory

With Amir Khan and Kell Brook finally set to collide this evening in Manchester, John MacDonald explores how ‘King Khan’ can emerge victorious.

Sow The Seeds Of Doubt.

To a portion of boxing fans, the greatest sin a fighter can commit is to quit. Too many followers of the sport want their disposable heroes to display a level of bravery far beyond what would be deemed reasonable in any other walk of life. Boxers must be willing to fight on, despite sustaining debilitating injuries. Legends of the past have done so, therefore every fighter must be held to that standard.

Kell Brook has fallen beneath that ludicrously high bar before. Having suffered a right orbital bone fracture against Gennadiy Golovkin, Brook’s trainer, Dominic Ingle, threw in the towel to save his charge for another day. Afterwards, the Sheffield fighter was informed by specialists that one more punch could have resulted in him losing his vision. 

Eight months later, Brook returned to the ring to defend his IBF welterweight title against Errol Spence Jr. After a bright start, the fight became more arduous in the second half as the challenger started to land with increasing frequency. Then came a familiar pain. Brook recognised it instantly. His orbital bone had broken, this time in his left eye. In the 11th, the pain and risk became too great for Brook, he took a knee and clutched his glove to the injured area. The fight was over.

Brook chose his vision over a futile last stand. His title was gone, but his eyesight was intact.

A titanium plate on each side of his face is a permanent reminder to ‘Special K’ of the damage this sport can cause. His sense of self-preservation is strong. He should not be judged as a result. However, Amir Khan should attempt to question Brook’s resolve.

Khan does not possess the punch power of the men that inflicted the original injuries, but he has the hand speed and accuracy to land regularly on his opponent’s eye.

I am sure Khan has no wish to inflict life-changing injuries on his rival, but he should place the decision in Brook’s own hands.

If Brook struggles to adjust to Khan’s speed, swelling around the eyes impairing his vision will compound the former welterweight champion’s struggles.

If doubts linger in Brook’s mind surround the damage he has previously suffered, Khan should look to exacerbate them.

Less Is More.

If the public workouts are anything to go by, Khan still has blisteringly quick hands. However, when Khan faced Terence Crawford, it appeared that while still fast, Khan had lost a little bit of speed. That was almost three years ago, and in the intervening years, Khan has only fought once. It is difficult to accurately assess just how quick his hands are now.

I would hazard a guess that his hand speed is far greater than that of the majority of welterweights, but it is imperative that Khan adjusts to his diminishing physical attributes. Where he could once land four shots, he may now only be to connect with two or three. It is likely that the Bolton man can still beat his rival to the punch, the key is to ensure he throws only what he can land.

Brook’s timing is not what it once was, it is possible that Khan can get away with some mistakes without paying the price, but why take the risk?

With the faster feet and quicker hands, Khan could dart into range and retreat to safety before his opponent gets the opportunity to react.

Getting greedy could result in disaster. Brook will be the physically stronger man in the ring on the night and as a result, Khan should avoid trading with the Ingle fighter. Don’t present Brook with the openings he requires.

Khan has never received the love he should have from the British public and while this fight presents an opportunity to alter opinions, the 35-year-old should look to win by any means necessary, even if that results in a dull spectacle.

Don’t Be Brave.

Traditionally, when Khan has been hurt, his fight or flight instinct has determined that offense is the best form of defence. Broadly speaking, the tactic has worked for him as he was triumphant against Marcos Maidana, Willie Limond, Samuel Vargas and Julio Diaz despite choosing to trade rather than to hold or retreat when in distress. 

Of course, when he fought Danny Garcia in a super-lightweight unification, his bravery was his undoing. Khan found himself on the canvas three times in four rounds. Had he opted for self-preservation opposed to a display of machismo, he may well have regained his sense after the first knockdown.

The 2004 Olympian’s bravery has resulted in him being involved in fantastic fights, but ones which were made harder than they needed to be.

If Brook manages to stun Khan, the Bolton fighter must resist the urge to fight fire with fire. While ‘Special K’ is not as ruthless a finisher as in years gone by, he still poses a threat.

For once, be boring.