Weekend Review: Khan’s night
Amir Khan: Khan’s big gamble might not have been so big after all Saturday in Manchester, England. Khan and Co. said beforehand that his size and speed would be too much for Barrera and that turned out to be the case. Don’t read too much into the victory; Khan dominated an old, slow guy who had a horrendous cut on his head that bled into his eye. At the same time, the young Briton looked spectacular under the circumstances – poised, confident, smart and blazing-fast. He and new trainer Freddie Roach could go a long way together, although we still want to see what happens when he gets nailed on the chin again. Was the Breidis Prescott KO a fluke or will it turn into a trend?
Marco Antonio Barrera: We shouldn’t necessarily write off the future Hall of Famer based on what we saw on Saturday. Khan was the wrong opponent for Barrera because of his considerable advantages in size and speed. And blood pouring into his eyes had to be a problem for him. That said, Barrera, 35, can compete only against an opponent with limited speed who will come to him, or at least engage him. That means that one of the greatest and most-exciting fighters of the past two decades might never again contend for a major title. Thanks for the memories.
BIGGEST WINNER II
Freddie Roach: The Los Angeles-based trainer already works with the best fighter in the world, Manny Pacquiao. Now, after Khan’s performance on Saturday, he might also have the most-exciting prospect in the sport. The only weakness we can see is that chin we discussed; if it’s not made of glass, look out. And remember: Roach has worked with Khan for only two fights, meaning the 22-year-old former Olympian will continue to improve. It’s no wonder that Roach was smiling so broadly in the ring after the fight.
Ola Afolabi’s right: Afolabi, a British-born resident of Los Angeles, put up a good fight against former cruiserweight titleholder Enzo Maccarinelli but seemed to be on his way to losing a decision Saturday on the Khan-Barrera undercard. Then, out of nowhere, BAM! An enormous right in the ninth round knocked Maccarinelli silly and he couldn’t recover. The one-punch knockout was shocking, given Afolabi had only five KOs going into the fight. However, 20-1 odds favoring Maccarinelli were absurd. Those who have followed Afolabi know that he’s a very talented boxer who would be difficult for anyone to beat. His only loss came in his fourth fight.
Enzo Maccarinelli KO’d by Ola Afolabi: Maccarinelli has lost two of his last three fights, a crushing second-round knockout against Dave Haye last March and the stunning KO against the relatively obscure Afolabi. Where does he go from here? He’s young, only 28. He could rebuild if he has the determination. However, it’ll be a taxing road back to the top. He’ll have to beat a big-name opponent before anyone will take him seriously again.
Cristian Mijares outpointed by Nehomar Cermeno: Going into his fight against Vic Darchinyan in November, Mijares, a smooth, polished boxer, was in the Top 10 pound-for-pound list of most experts. That distinction didn’t last long, though. Darchinyan knocked him out in the ninth round and he was lost a split decision Saturday to a relative unknown Venezuelan who fights out of Panama. This isn’t to take anything away from the unbeaten Cermeno, who obviously is a good fighter. However, from pound-for-pound to two consecutive losses is a big stumble. Mijares has a lot of work to do to get back to where he was.
Lucian Bute: The Romanian-born resident of Montreal was coming off a strange victory, one against Librado Andrade in which he was out on his feet at the final bell. However, he bounced back nicely before his adopted hometown fans at The Bell Centre. He dominated a good, experienced fighter in Fulgencio Zuniga of Colombia before stopping him in the fourth round with a perfect body shot that must’ve been extremely painful and a flurry of unanswered follow-up punches. The IBF super middleweight titleholder must now step up to tougher competition. Mikkel Kessler?
Bruce Trampler: The Top Rank matchmaker was asked for William Dettloff’s story today why the very-limited Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. hasn’t faced anyone even resembling a contender five-plus years into his professional career. His answer: Why should he? He’s making a great living fighting obscure journeyman. Chavez isn’t a very good fighter but he’s a smart one for putting his future in the hands of Trampler and promoter Bob Arum.
WORST FIGHT SITE
Tijuana: If you have to arrange a conference call featuring Mexican government officials to convince U.S. reporters that it’s safe to cover a card there, you might’ve made a bad choice in the first place. The bustling border town has seen a startling rise in drug-related violence – including firefights in the streets, decapitations, kidnapping and other activities normally not in a boxing writer’s job description. Promoter Bob Arum is staging the fight in Tijuana because Chavez will draw a big crowd there. If he really wanted American writers to attend the event, though, he should've staged it a few miles away in San Diego.
Wladimir Klitschko vs. David Haye: Klitschko and Haye have the opportunity to put together a rarity these days – a meaningful heavyweight fight – but are letting it slip away. C’mon, guys. You’ll capture the imagination of the public, draw overdue attention to the division and make a zillion dollars each. Do whatever it takes to make it happen. Otherwise, we’re stuck with Klitschko vs. Alexander Povetkin or Alexander Dimitrenko in few months. Ugh. And what opponent can Haye come up with who will create any interest?
Arthur Abraham: “The first thing I wanted was fried potatoes with olive oil,” said Abraham, who reportedly had to lost about 15 pounds in two weeks to make weight for his middleweight title defense against Lajuan Simon on Saturday in Berlin. Abraham, who won a one-sided decision, wants to fight either Kelly Pavlik or Felix Sturm and then move up to the super middleweight.
Michael Rosenthal can be reached at [email protected]