LAS VEGAS- WBA junior welterweight titleholder Amir Khan’s chin withstood the test of hard-hitting Argentine Marcos Maidana in a rousing fight on Saturday.
For the second consecutive week boxing fans saw a great fight.
Khan (24-1, 17 KOs) used his blinding speed to drop Maidana (29-2, 27 KOs) in the first round but needed his stamina to withstand a furious rally by the challenger in front of more than 4,500 fans at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.
Another small crowd saw another great fight.
Khan passed the chin test, not with flying colors but he passed it nonetheless.
“I proved today I got a chin,” said Khan, who was bloodied and bruised but never let his hands touch the canvas. “I’m a boxer I go into the ring and I know I’m going to get hit.”
And did he ever get hit.
After dropping Maidana in the first round with a pinpoint blow to the liver, it looked like the fight was over. But Argentina’s Maidana sucked air, got up with a grimace and pushed on to survive the round.
Khan’s speed looked overwhelming for the first two rounds, then Maidana began finding the range for his punches and turned things around briefly for two rounds.
A penalty turned things in Khan’s favor when during a clinch, Maidana flung an elbow in Khan’s direction and referee Joe Cortez deducted a point for the infraction. Khan also won the round to make it a 10-8 round in his favor.
Maidana did not care.
The Argentine increased the pressure and began finding Khan’s chin with uppercuts and more uppercuts. The British speedster tried to maneuver out of range but ate more punches for his effort.
In the ninth and 10th round Khan stopped running and began firing blinding combinations. It was a sizzling display of speed versus power as Maidana caught Khan and had the lithe boxer wobbling around the ring. Khan never went down.
The last two rounds saw Maidana try to fire bombs while Khan covered up and sparingly fired back his combos. Neither fighter was willing to give in and the small crowd roared its approval. Both fighters proved to be in great shape as the final bell rang.
All three judges scored it for Khan 114-111 twice and 113-112.
“I thought I did enough to win in the later rounds,” said Maidana.
Khan was grateful but not bowed.
“I knew I made mistakes but I worked hard and came back stronger,” said Khan. “You could tell by his record that he’s a strong puncher.”
On this day Khan’s chin withstood the test.
Junior welterweight contenders Victor Ortiz (28-2-2, 22 KOs) and Lamont Peterson (28-1-1, 14 KOs) had a lot at stake in their virtual elimination contest. The fight saw Peterson use his defensive and counter punching prowess to good use. But Ortiz’s power counted too.
Peterson out boxed Ortiz in the first several rounds and it looked like he might run away with a decision. Ortiz only needed one or two blows to find an equalizer and he found it.
Ortiz landed some crisp right hooks that forced Peterson to be more acutely aware of it, then came the left hand bomb and down went the Washington D.C. fighter. Not once but twice in round three. It was a pivotal round.
Peterson needed a win to remain an important cog in the junior welterweight division and it showed as he rallied back into the fight after the knockdowns. Ortiz was assured a win would set him up for a world title bid, perhaps with Khan.
After 10 rounds judge Robert Hoyle scored it 95-93 for Peterson. Judges Patricia Jarman and David Moretti scored it 94-94 for a majority draw.
“I feel that I pulled it off,” said Ortiz. “He doesn’t hit very hard.”
Peterson seemed more content with the decision.
“I knew the fight was close. I wanted to try and win as many rounds as I could,” said Peterson.
Both fighters were very friendly after the fight.
Former college football standout Seth Mitchell (20-0-1, 14 KOs) found it sluggish in the beginning against veteran heavyweight Taurus Sykes (25-7-1, 7 KOs). Both Sykes size and jab kept Mitchell from blowing past him but soon enough the New York fighter began losing steam. A Mitchell left hook dropped Sykes and another punch that grazed the top of his head had a delayed effect. Sykes was counted out at 1:24 of the fifth.
“He’s a veteran,” said Mitchell of Sykes. “He got me with the jabs too many times.”
Jessie Vargas (13-0, 7 KOs) showed why many are high on his talent as he drubbed tough Ramon Montano (17-9-2) for eight rounds in a junior welterweight match. Vargas attacked the body mercilessly and mounted up the points on the sturdy chin of Montano. Vargas won by unanimous decision 78-74, 79-73, 80-72.
Coachella’s Randy Caballero (6-0, won by unanimous decision over Robert Guillen (5-9-3) in a four round junior featherweight bout.
Former junior featherweight and junior lightweight world champion Joan Guzman (31-0-1, 18 KOs) blew by Jason Davis (11-8-1) after some early fouls. A knockout came in the second round in a bout held at welterweight. Guzman still has problems making weight.
Sharif Bogere (18-0, 11 KOs) out-punched Utah’s Chris Fernandez (19-11-1) in an eight round junior welterweight bout. All three judges scored it 80-72 but Fernandez got his licks in.
Ireland’s Jamie Kavanagh (4-0, 2 KOs) stopped Missouri’s Jacob Thornton (2-2) with a single body shot right hand bomb in the first round. Kavanagh trains out of the Wild Card Boxing gym in Hollywood.
Venezuela’s Alfonso Blanco (2-0) won by technical knockout in the third round against Gustavo Medina (1-3-1) of Arizona in a middleweight bout.
Who will win? Wladimir Klitschko or Tyson Fury?