TSS gives referee Joe Cooper a thumbs down for his performance on Saturday night. Taking two points for Khan for pushing was going overboard, and reeked of home cooking. TSS Universe, reffing aside, what was your take on Khan's outing? (Hogan)
It may be reassessment time about Amir Kahn.
Is Khan a next generation superstar? Is he what many thought he was? Has he been overrated? Is he not a future, slam-dunk superstar and pay-per-view driver? Is he less than the sum of his parts?
Or maybe the questions don't have to go in that direction. Maybe, based on his Saturday showing against Lamont Peterson, in which Peterson at the very least enjoyed some slight hospitality, or at most was handed a win by officials who were pre-disposed to giving him every edge against the invader from overseas, maybe Khan is right about where we thought he was. Maybe it's Peterson who had a step-up night, who went above and beyond what he'd been able to do in the ring before, and who elevated himself. Maybe he deserves buckets of credit and that should be the focus of our post-fight analysis.
I'm certainly inclined to at the very least wonder where the heck Khan (26-2) goes from here. The kid, and let's not forget, he is "only" 25, and has room to grow in the seasoning department, was talking mega-bouts before this one. He was on the short list to hit the Mayweather lottery. I think we can agree that was premature. That could still happen, but first Khan has to be able to handle a Lamont Peterson (30-1-1).
I really moved into a lead cheerleading car on Khan when I saw what he did to Paul Malignaggi in May 2010. His rhythm, reach, strategy, composure, I loved it all in that TKO11 win against Paulie in New York. And anyone having leftover questions about his chin probably was satisfied when he ate bombs from Marcos Maidana in his next outing, in December 2010. Yep, Khan was deservedly being talked about as a short-list superstar. But then, in my view, he took a little back-step. Yes, he won like every second of every round against Paul McCloskey. But it was a semi-stinker of an affair in his homebase of Lancashire, that technical decision win. I wanted to see more accuracy from Khan, would've liked to see less wild swinging, fewer three punch combos which feature two misses and one landed punch. The tendency to flurry and then dart away, what about sticking around, doing some in-close work, getting a tad more comfortable in that mode? Hey, I know that isn't for everyone, maybe I'm just being too critical...And I knew McCloskey was a survivor, a bit of a cutie, wasn't going to open up and make many mistakes. But he's Paul McCloskey, not to be a punk. Shouldn't a next gen superstar more so have his way with him?
Khan next gloved up against Zab Judah, this July, and that fight will mostly be remembered for Judah reverting to form, for the Brooklyn guy looking for reasons to jet, rather than retrench. Khan sometimes did his flurry and fall in thing, showed that he is still refining his footwork and balance, still getting a handle, perhaps, on his professional style.
And then Saturday night...The Pakistani-Brit showed that long jab, which is such a weapon when he remembers to use it regularly, early. We heard that Peterson described Khan as an "energy" fighter, and that stuck with me. He often looks a little too energized, a little too buzzed, like he drank one too many Red Bulls. Is it because he fears his chin won't hold up? Is that why he can look a little frenetic in there?
I'm never a fan of wasted movement, because it is so draining for a fighter to use his legs to hustle away from a foe, like Cotto did against Margarito in 2008, as Khan sometimes does during his fights. Perhaps, moving forward, Khan will be able to employ a mere feint, the hint of offense, to keep a foe from launching, rather than resorting to circling halfway around the ring. His stamina seems to hold up fine, but that "running" sends a bad message to judges, oftentimes. Again, let me reiterate, he could be at his peak in about three years. He is still a work in progress. This may be an exercise in excessive critique...
And Peterson is a high level pugilist. The way he strafes the left hook to the body, hard and smooth, that is an art and a science. We saw him really getting in Khan's face, and it had me wondering if Khan possesses the pop that people think he does. If he had a shade more, that might dissuade foes from stalking him effectively. I'm not sure if he can improve his pop--punchers are born, not made, right?--but perhaps if Khan were to set down more on his shots, he could force foes to be less inclined to chase him. This might enable him to do something I think he is capable of doing more of--be the leader, be first, impose his will, dictate pace and tone. Then again, trainer Freddie Roach asks for "under and outs" all the time, so I figure he knows what Khan needs to do to be as successful as possible...
Much was said about Peterson leading with his head. He didn't really do this a la Evander Holyfield. He'd often throw, and his head would be low, but he wasn't using it like a missile. He smartly tucks his chin, and that will tend to make one dip their head. He also finishes up by placing his head outside his foes elbows,' a savvy move which leaves him hard to hit. It didn't leap out at me on fight night, but I did notice it more upon re-watching. And, did Roach make a big deal of it during the bout? Did he lobby the ref to get Peterson to stop that? If he did, I missed it. I did see Khan lobbying the ref about the head in round 11, when he should have been concentrating on fighting. Let the K St. leeches do the lobbying, sir, you stick to boxing. Finally, a well placed uppercut, or twenty, will force an opponent to lift one's head up, so they see that shot coming; maybe Khan wants to add that to the mix more next time. Check back to round nine, when Khan's right uppercut stung Peterson.
That ref's move to take a point for pushing at the tail end of round seven wasn't hard to miss. It was ill advised, it reeked of an unfair advantage being offered to the hometown guy, and ref Joseph Cooper dropped the ball, bigtime. Yes, Amir was pushing off. Yes, that's illegal. But fighters do it all the time, and don't get penalized, and Khan wasn't so egregious about it that Cooper should have injected his preferences into the decision. "I don't know that I've ever seen a ref so focused on pushing, which is something normally you get away with," Jim Lampley said.
I heard Roach ask Khan to put Peterson on his arse after round 11. I didn't hear him pushing for a KO in other instances, though he texted me after and told me he did push for the stoppage. This leads me to one of my pet peeves: I really, firmly believe that it is in the best interest of trainers to push for KOs when they are fighting in the other guys' home town. I think a trainer and fighter should go in with the assumption that the judges will screw them. I think it's smart to demand your fighter aim for a stoppage, because judges have a long history of rewarding the local guy. Robert McCracken, are you listening?
Ref Cooper in round 12 again committed a cardinal sin, of injecting himself into the outcome on a judgment call. Peterson was up in Khan's grill, Amir shoved him back and barked at the ref, and the ref called time, at the 1:54 mark, and took a point from Khan. It was ill advised, at best. This was a brawl, a heated tussle, and on those occasions, some form and niceties will be dispensed. Cooper messed up, bigtime, and does not deserve another marquee assignment based on his Saturday showing. But Khan did himself no favors by getting sidetracked. While Peterson was intent on staying focused on his foe, Khan had one eye on Cooper.
Then came the decision. Khan sagged, and then said to Larry Merchant after the decision that it was like fighting two people, Peterson and Cooper. He took a shot at DC for being a biased fight-town, and said he was the cleaner fighter in that bout.
At the post-fight presser, which I viewed http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5r7fXnp2w6o courtesy of the ultra pros at Boricua Boxing, Khan's promoter Oscar De La Hoya pointed out that it was a stellar fight and both boxers deserve major credit. He then took issue with the second point deduction, and said that with no deductions, Khan wins. He said all involved want a rematch, and I think mostly struck the right notes during his time at the mike.
Khan spoke after Peterson. He said that Peterson "kept his head low" and that "the referee was a bit on his side. ..He won the fight tonight," he stated, and asked for a rematch to be in the UK. In the next breath, he said he won the fight, and said some commissioners told him it was a "disgusting" decision. He implied that the counting of the cards was shady. "We knew who won that fight!" he said in closing, asking for a rematch right away.
A writer then asked if he regretted coming to DC. Khan said no, but wants to know if Peterson will have the same cajones as him. Khan said he'd do the fight in Vegas or in the UK. He repeated his take that Cooper was against him.
"Anywhere else it would have been a winnable fight," Khan said.
After the scrap, Team Khan and Golden Boy issued a statement indicating they would follow up in an official manner:
Firstly, we would like to congratulate Lamont Peterson on his performance against Amir Khan. Not only has he shown that he is a tremendous fighter inside the ring, but also a great man out of the ring.
Following the decision in the fight, Team Khan and Golden Boy Promotions intends to make inquiries with the District of Columbia Boxing and Wrestling Commission, the IBF and the WBA regarding the performance of referee Joseph Cooper and will also be seeking clarification regarding certain ambiguities with respect to the scores of the fight.
We look forward to an immediate rematch with Lamont as confirmed by Lamont and his manager/trainer Barry Hunter.
Golden Boy has had a run of controversial situations lately, and lodged a protest following Bernard Hopkins' loss to Chad Dawson on Oct. 15, and Hopkins' draw against Jean Pascal in December 2010. A few years ago, Richard Schaefer made public his view that his company was getting screwed over in tight situations, so I wonder if they again feel there is an anti Golden Boy bias?
TSS Universe, I'd like to hear from you. I tossed a lot of comments and opinions on Khan. Please offer your take. Is he overrated? What would you like to see him do more of, and less, to maximize his skills? What is his upside? Are pundits too harsh on Amir? Can he make adjustments and beat Peterson? Should he demand they fight in the UK? Weigh in, in our Forum.
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV