Junior welter Amir Khan looked to take another step to getting back on the biggest stages, facing off with Julio Diaz in England on Saturday night. Khan bashers believe the Pakistani-Brit is fatally chinny, that his whiskers are too weak to allow him be able to hang with anyone but light punchers, so not many out there dismissed the past his prime Diaz as a no hoper.
Khan exited with a UD12 win, but he went down in the fourth and was buzzed in the 11th against a man not known as a bomber. The judges saw it 114-113, 115-113, 115-112, for Khan, who, sad to say, can change trainers all he wants, but seems to be stuck with something you can't fix--a subpar chin.
Hard to see what Khan does next; on one hand, his chin makes him must see TV, but you have to make him an underdog against anyone with more than decent pop.
The ex lightweight champ Diaz at age 33 was 40-7-1, while Khan, the ex junior welter champ, age 26, was 27-3 entering. After losing to Lamont Peterson and Danny Garcia, he got back on the bronco with a win over Carlos Molina, and moved up a half step to Diaz.
The Mexican Diaz, now living in LA, started slow in round one.
Now trained by Virgil Hunter, for his second fight, Khan started smart and slow and pumped the jab in the first. A one-two drew claps for Khan at the close of the round. Khan showed restraint by not looking to fire right back, and get into a tradefest, in round two. So far, his focus was superb.
Diaz landed a couple counter rights but it didn't look like he had full pop on this night, early on. Then, in the fourth, he landed left hooks to the head, and down went Khan, with a minute left. He got up with clear eyes and firm enough legs.
In the fifth, Amir moved more, slightly more frantically. But he did do enough work to take the round. In round six, Khan moved laterally, looked to avoid contact. The tone was to Diaz' favor in the seventh, because there was trading, but Khan's right hand landed a few times, hard and clean. A left hook landed clean and scared the crowd, but Khan weathered it in the eighth. Diaz sensed a shift and pressed Amir in the last minute. Khan boxed super smart in the ninth; he kept Diaz guessing and a step behind all round. Hunter after said, "Good job."
In the tenth, Amir got a tiny bit buzzed, off the left hook again, early. He held and then ran. Khan came back, though and was on firm ground for the last two thirds.
In the 11th, Khan was hurt badly. He held on for dear life. A left hook started it and two decent rights had Khan slightly goofy. Diaz pressed in ther 12th and won it, but Khan stayed on his feet, happily for him. We went to the cards.
Showtime will show the bout later tonight, FYI.
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV