The kid was going to be a flameout, a fast-rise and faster-fall story, from 17-year-old Olympic medalist to chin-deficient disappointment, or so some thought when he was kayoed in one by underdog Breidis Prescott last September. Then Freddie Roach came into the picture, and the Amir Khan script got rewritten. The new Khan earned the World Boxing Association light-welterweight title on Saturday with a nearly overwhelming unanimous decision victory over Andreas Kotelnik at the MEN Arena in Manchester, and any viewer had to be impressed that the victor showed the goods, and the sort of defense he’ll need to stick around for any spell, at age 22.
The judges saw it 118-111, 118-111, and a too-generous 120-108.
Khan (21-1; 139 ¾ pounds) got rocked by the 31-year-old Ukrainian (140 pounds; in his third crown defense), who dropped to 31-3-1, in the third, but held his ground, and was not betrayed by that iffy chin. He pumped the jab with regularity, and offered up ample drama in the last couple of rounds, when Kotelnik, looking to land his game-changer right, knew he needed to overwhelm Khan, and pressed his point. The chin held, however, and Khan’s first title shot ended in triumph.
“It's the best feeling ever, I want to thank Freddie Roach and my team for making this happen. I'm a world champion and I'm going to enjoy it,” he told the BBC. “I'm still young and I've got big things to come.”
Indeed. TSS U, play matchmaker. Who should Khan, after his first official fight at junior welterweight, target next?