independent

Monday 21 April 2014

Boxing: Slick Khan broken but not beaten in comeback

AMIR KHAN fractured both his hands during his one-sided victory over unheralded Californian Carlos Molina in Los Angeles, but insisted that would not stop him targeting revenge against Danny Garcia in his next fight.

Garcia knocked out Khan in the fourth round of their world title fight in July and the Englishman is desperate for a rematch, but his new trainer Virgil Hunter may put a block on the contest after saying that his charge "does not understand how to fight on the inside".

"I'd love the rematch against Garcia because I know deep down I'm a better fighter than him," Khan said after putting Molina through the mill and forcing a 10th-round technical knockout.

"I made a mistake in that fight and I paid for that. I know I can beat him, especially with the help of my new trainer Virgil Hunter and being based in San Francisco.

"I'll knock Danny Garcia out. We want the rematch – any time, anywhere – but I don't think Garcia will."

Khan may have to wait until next summer, with Garcia scheduled to defend the World Boxing Council and World Boxing Association light-welterweight belts against Zab Judah, who Khan has beaten, in February, though Garcia has stated he is willing to compete in a rematch.

"If the money's right then we'll definitely fight whenever and wherever," said Garcia, who was ringside at the Khan-Molina bout. "My team will make the decision."

The contest with Garcia would bring enormous dangers for Khan, whose attack is world-class, but whose defence, conversely, remains suspect, given the three career knockouts against him.

The reality is that this was a 'honeymoon' fight for the Khan-Hunter axis, a comeback fight against an opponent tailor-made for Khan's fast-hands, fast-feet style after consecutive losses.

Predictably, Khan handled Molina with ease. The Bolton fighter had experience, speed, power and reach advantages over the Californian, who was game but overwhelmed time and again by Khan's skills.

Molina's corner pulled him out after the 10th round. Khan moved to 27-3; Molina suffered his first defeat in his 19th professional ring appearance.

Worryingly, though, for Khan, he was still caught on the counter by Molina in exchanges. It will be a topic of discussion when Khan picks up again with Hunter in camp early next year.

"I thought I stuck to my game plan and was keeping faith in my jab," Khan said. "Virgil's teaching me things, like speed, patience, picking the right shots and when to throw them. Sometimes I'm too brave for my own good."

After the bout, Saj Mohamed, a member of Khan's team, tweeted a picture of the boxer's hands alongside the message: 'Ouch @AmirKingKhan Both hands fractured! Molina was one tough cookie'.

Hunter espouses what he calls 'slip-slide style' old school techniques which allow fighters to work effectively in close range, with elbow locks and holds in the clinch.

"Amir's not ready to fight on the inside yet," Hunter said yesterday. "He has to understand the inside before he is ready to fight on the inside.

"I have not implemented any of those tactics with him yet. What I have done on the inside with him is work on escape routes. Fighting on the inside takes a lot of practice. We are talking about a kid who has quick feet, quick reflexes and quick reactions.

"Right now, he doesn't have to fight on the inside. All he has to do is move and get out of the way. I wanted to make it very simple that he didn't have to do anything he had to stop and think about."

What Hunter will be heartened by is Khan's return to the game plan, behind his jab, later in the fight against Molina.

Golden Boy, Khan's promoters, may yet decide to prepare a more cautious route back to a potential rematch against Garcia, if the Philadelphian comes through his February date with Judah. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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