Khan must cope across the pond as home fight for Bolton boy remains far, far away
Amir Khan”s quest for wider trans-Atlantic recognition continues apace as he defends his world light-welterweight titles in Washington, where his challenger, Lamont Peterson, resides.
That campaign has acquired even greater urgency as the prospect of Bolton”s former Olympic silver medallist returning to England for a homecoming fight recedes into a very distant future.
Ironically, Khan”s desire to keep in touch with his British fans by fighting once a year in this country is being quashed by the very television deal which ensures him greater exposure here.
Capitol gains: Amir Khan stands outside the White House in Washington DC
All smiles: Khan poses at the Tidal Basin
Part of the deal by which Sky Sports are bringing Khan back to the TV mainstream from the fringe Primetime cable company in Britain relies on substantial backing from the HBO network in the US.
In return, the American giants expect Khan to fight live at prime broadcasting time over there.
They also want him to build his public profile by maintaining a promotional presence there.
Thus Khan – “I love my British fans and draw so much from their support” – has no option but to keep giving up home advantage for his big fights.
Dream team: Freddie Roach is getting Khan ready to face Lamont Peterson
Great Briton: Bolton boxer Amir Khan is in action in Washington this weekend
The same conundrum will apply, of course, if and when he lands his mega-fight with Floyd Mayweather.
Not only is Floyd Jnr hugely reluctant to box outside his adoptive home town of Las Vegas but a US venue would be crucial to HBO”s maximising of the enormous pay-per-view revenue potential.
“I don”t worry about fighting abroad,” says Khan. “I feel I”m good enough to overcome any disadvantage. But I do miss boxing in front of my own supporters and like to give them something back for getting behind me.”
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Not that he will be short of support in a Washington convention centre on Saturday night, where he will draw backing from a substantial local Muslim community in addition to a strong following from England.
This will be Khan”s third fight in America in his last four bouts. His last home outing was the marginally premature stoppage on cuts of Paul McCloskey in Manchester”s MEN back in April.
That was preceded by America”s Fight of the Year for 2010, the thrilling victory over Marcos Maidana in Las Vegas and, prior to that, the stoppage of Pauli Malignaggi in in his home town of New York.
Sin City was also the setting for this July”s stoppage of former champion Zab Judah.
As well as boxing in America, Khan has to base himself in Los Angeles in order to work at the Wild Card gym of Freddie Roach, master trainer to both himself and Manny Pacquiao.
But while he admits to bouts of home-sickness he is building a settled life there, which includes some new friends.
And Khan, who turns 25 this Thursday, says: “Boxing is a short career and I intend retiring in about three years.
“This game demands sacrifices and if they include having to fight abroad then so be it.”
There has been some criticism here of the growing infrequency of Khan”s appearances in the English ring but the reality is that this is beyond his control.
Home favourite: Lamont Peterson will have the backing of the Washington crowd
The consolation for his British fans is that his travels are helping Khan”s development into a genuinely world-class boxer with pound-for-pound potential .
He should provide further evidence of that by overcoming Peterson, a worthy challenger, as well as home disadvantage.
Khan v Peterson is live late this Saturday night on Sky Sports 1HD.
Relief over Ali recovery
Thankfully Muhammad Ali is reported to be recovered from his hurried visit to hospital with dehydration.
It looks as if the warmth of his Arizona estate has been just the place to recover from exposure to the cold of Philadelphia, where he attended the funeral of his historic rival Smokin” Joe Frazier.
Farewell to a legend: Muhammad Ali at Joe Frazier”s funeral last month
Whether or not reports of his collapse were exaggerated, the fight against Parkinson”s goes on.
We wish The Greatest – and his devoted wife Lonnie – not only a merry Christmas but all the happiness they can muster in the late autumn of this remarkable life.
In the wake of Manny Pacquaio”s hotly disputed points victory over Juan Manuel Marquez in the third fight of their epic trilogy, British boxing continues to claim that its men are being robbed abroad.
Martin Murray – like Matthew Macklin only a few months before him – believes he beat world super-middleweight champion Felix Sturm in Germany this weekend.
Murray went even closer than Macklin on the official cards by scoring a draw – as opposed to split decision defeat – but that still left the WBA belt in the German”s increasingly shaky possession.
The 29-year-old from St Helens says: “I”m sure I won but this is what you have to expect in Germany.”
Gutted: Martin Murray (right) is convinced he beat Felix Sturm in Germany
Dereck Chisora felt even more aggrieved by the Saturday night split decision in Finland which awarded the vacant European heavyweight title to local favourite Robert Helenius.
A lot of British fans cried foul, too, although cleaner punching would have helped the Londoner.
Right or wrong, however, Murray and Chisora have reignited a controversy as old as prize-fighting itself, as one of our readers reminds us by recalling an event from yesteryear.
In May 1933 British champion Seaman Tommy Watson set sail from Tyneside to challenge Cuban legend Kid Chocolate for the world super-featherweight title in New York”s Madison Square Garden.
Unhappy Finn-ish: Dereck Chisora (left) lost to Robert Helenius in Helsinki
After 15 bruising rounds Watson found himself on the wrong end of a unanimous decision which was challenged by most of the American sportswriters at ringside and described by heavyweight great Jack Dempsey as ” the robbery of an Englishman.”
Watson – nicknamed Seaman because to achieve his ring ambitions he had to buy himself out of the Royal Navy, in which he acquired a strange boxing gait by training on the decks of battleships at sea – was promised a rematch in England which never materialised.
Watson won a remarkable 112 of his 123 fights, losing nine and drawing twice. Kid Chocolate – a society playboy whose real name was Eligio Sardinas y Montalvo – built up an even more phenomenal record, winning 167 bouts before the legendary Jack Berg inflicted his first defeat.
Seaman Tommy was before even my time but he sounds to me like the hero still revered by the Geordie nation.
Miguel Cotto”s bloody revenge over the one-eyed Antonio Margarito – on the Madison Square Garden bill which saw English lightweight John Murray predictably overwhelmed by scandalously overweight world champion Brandon Rios – brought to a climax the first action-packed weekend of a bumper December for boxing.
Sky Sports and BoxNation, as Frank Warren”s dedicated fight channel goes from free to 10 a month subscription, are screening between them a host of British stars – Amir Khan, Carl Froch and James DeGale among them.
But Wladimir Klitschko”s championship defence against Jean-Marc Mormeck in Germany this Saturday night has been postponed after the Ukrainian had emergency surgery ton a kidney stone.
Pound-for-pound ratingsWORLD POUND-FOR-POUND TOP 10
No 1 MANNY PACQUIAO
Kibawe, Bukidnon, Philippines
Current titles: WBO welterweight world champion
Jeff”s verdict: Still the best despite almost coming undone his his third installment with Marquez.
No 2 FLOYD MAYWEATHER JNR
Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA
Current titles: None
Jeff”s verdict: Hates being second best.
No 3 SERGIO MARTINEZ
Quilmes, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Current titles: WBC Diamond and Ring World middleweight champion
Jeff”s verdict: Showed his class to dispatch Darren Barker recently.
No 4 JUAN MANUEL MARQUEZ
Mexico City, Distrito Federal
Current titles: WBA, WBO and The Ring lightweight world champion
Jeff”s verdict: Classic Mexican warrior who took Manny to the wire in another epic contest.
No 5 NONITO DONAIRE
Talibon, Bohol, Philippines
Current titles: WBC and WBO bantamweight champion
Jeff”s verdict: The next Pacquiao.
No 6 WLADIMIR KLITSCHKO
Current titles: IBF, IBO, WBO and WBA heavyweight champion
Jeff”s verdict: Longest reigning champion, completely commanded Haye in a one-sided fight in Germany.
No 6 VITALI KLITSCHKO
Belovodsk, Kirghiz SSR (now Kyrgyzstan)
Current titles: WBC Heavyweight champion
Jeff”s verdict: It is now time Vitali gets the recognition he deserves
No 8 CARL FROCH
Current titles: WBC super middleweight
Jeff”s verdict: Fantastic run against five consecutive world class opponents.
No 9 ANDRE WARD
Oakland, California, USA
Current titles: WBA world super middleweight champion
Jeff”s verdict: Super-slick Olympic gold medallist but come on Carl.
No 10 BERNARD HOPKINS
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Current titles: WBC and The Ring Light Heavyweight champion.
Jeff”s verdict: The 4Os phenomenon.
BRITISH POUND-FOR-POUND TOP 10
No 1 CARL FROCH
Current titles: WBC super middleweight
Jeff”s verdict: Fantastic run against five consecutive world class opponents
No 2 AMIR KHAN
Current titles: WBA world super lightweight
Jeff”s verdict: Won world fight of the year against Marcos Maidana
No 3 NATHAN CLEVERLY
Current titles: WBO light heavyweight world champion
Jeff”s verdict: Thinking man”s world champion.
No 4 RICKY BURNS
Current titles: WBO world super featherweight
Jeff”s verdict: Scotland”s finest and exceptional in points win over Katsidis.
No 5 KEVIN MITCHELL
Current titles: WBO intercontinental lightweight champion
Jeff”s verdict: A focused, dedicated Mitchell is world class.
No 6 KELL BROOK
Current titles: British welterweight title and the WBO Inter-continental title
Jeff”s verdict: Rising as fast as Haye punches.
No 7 DARREN BARKER
Current titles: British and European middleweight champion
Jeff”s verdict: Class boxer who almost made Martinez think twice.
No 8 GEORGE GROVES
Current titles: Commonwealth and British Super Middleweight
Jeff”s verdict: On the up, great win over Smith at Wembley.
No 9 MATTHEW MACKLIN*
Current titles: None
Jeff”s verdict: Just fell short against Felix Sturm in what may be his best world title chance.
No 10 TYSON FURY
Current titles: British and Commonwealth heavyweight
Jeff”s verdict: Showed great character to climb off the canvas and stop Neven Pajkic.
*Macklin fights under the Irish flag but was born in Birmingham.