On Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, former two division champion at light and super light welterweight, Amir Khan (29-3, 19 KOs) and former light and welterweight champion, Devon Alexander (26-2, 14 KOs) met at welterweight in the main event. While you might not say the two fighters are at a crossroads, both were at a bit of a fork in the road in terms of big fight marketability. Khan showcased his superior length and hand speed in taking a lopsided unanimous decision (120-108, 119-109, 118-110).
Khan outlanded Alexander by a 152 margin (243-91) and his power shots found a home 54% of the time. Alexander was never hurt, but he was not able to take advantage of any of Khan’s perceived weaknesses (chin and stamina). You could argue this was Khan’s best night as a “boxer.”
On to the rounds.
Round One: Khan starts out throwing the harder punches. Khan’s speed and range are already causing Alexander trouble. Amir looks very quick tonight. Alexander lands a wicked combination, but Alexander comes back with fire of his own and seemed to unsteady Khan near the end of the round with a hard right behind Khan’s ear. Khan landed more punches and should have taken the round, but the final moments found Alexander making an impression of his own.
Round Two: Both fighters are active from the start. Khan’s hands are clearly faster than Alexander’s. Alexander keeps moving into Khan’s left, making it easier for the Brit to score. Alexander begins to come forward more, but it isn’t very effective. Khan, who is 6-0 against southpaws, repeatedly steps on Alexander’s foot when coming forward.
Round Three: Khan’s reach and speed are making Alexander uncomfortable. Being the natural counter puncher, Alexander is having difficulty finding punching range with regularity. Khan lands a strong counter left hook, but Alexander takes it pretty well. The superior punch output by Amir Khan is carrying the fight. Alexander appeared stung by a flurry at the end of the round.
Round Four: Khan lands three quick blows, but Alexander responds with two solid blows of his own. The 3:2 ratio is emblematic of the fight and increasingly problematic for Alexander though. Khan scores a sharp left to the body. A straight right by Khan down the middle punctuates another strong round for Amir.
Round Five: Another right behind the ear knocks Khan off balance, but doesn’t hurt him. I knew Khan would have the hand speed advantage, but it’s almost glaring at this point. Strong overhand left by Alexander as Devon forces the action, but still can’t match the punch output of Khan. Khan’s jab is starting to find a home with regularity. Alexander heads to his corner looking a bit dispirited.
Round Six: Alexander needs Khan to either tire or get careless. Both of those things are possible, but thus far not in evidence. Alexander is starting to come forward more, which is not his game. He’s losing the fight moving in both directions. Another round for Khan.
Round Seven: Alexander comes out firing, then settles back as a boxer. Alexander is landing a little more in this round, but still not catching up to Khan. At this point, Devon has to know the score cards require more aggressiveness and he’s trying, but Khan just keeps landing more. Khan wobbles Alexander momentarily at the end of the round with a left hook.
Round Eight: Khan lands a straight right and a left hook. You would be hard pressed to justify a single round for Alexander at this point, although you could call it a competitive shutout. Alexander lands a solid left and a strong right hook. A hard left to the body lands for Khan. This might have been Alexander’s best round. Still not sure if he won it.
Round Nine: Both fighters came out with a little bit of hesitancy then Khan lands a superb combination. Alexander takes it well, but simply isn’t coming back with enough. Khan’s hand speed is carrying into the later rounds. Once again, Alexander heads to his corner looking dejected. Very little fire in his corner either. Trainer Kevin Cunningham tells Alexander “all these rounds are starting to look the same.”
Round Ten: Khan is firing off combinations throughout the round. Alexander’s head snaps back twice due to consecutive straight right hands. Khan is fighting a very disciplined fight.
Round Eleven: Paulie Malinaggi points out this is “a terrible match up for Alexander.” It’s hard to argue. Khan’s superior hand speed maintains a tempo that Alexander just can’t match. Alexander needs to land something huge and that’s not his game. Alexander hits Khan with a few solid punches, but he needs a game changer and Khan is not allowing it. He’s both getting off and countering better.
Round Twelve: Khan starts fast as if to let Alexander know it’s not going to happen tonight. Khan lands a sharp combo that blisters Alexander mid-round. Khan has controlled this fight from stem to stern. Alexander hasn’t been embarrassed, but he has been schooled. The round ends and both fighters raise their arms, which is curious.
This was a very good night for Amir Khan. If a Mayweather-Pacquiao fight can’t be made (and well, you know…) then Khan has put himself in an excellent fallback position. He’s skilled, marketable, and has won four fights in a row since losing to Danny Garcia. The future for Alexander is much less certain. He’s going to need to regroup with his team and get a good win on his ledger before he will be considered for a big fight any time soon.