Saturday, April 01, 2023  |

News Elite Eight Boxing Classic: championship match

Fighters Network

Timothy Bradley vs. Amir Khan. The U.S. vs. England. Short and ripped vs. tall and lean. Both skilled, both ridiculously quick. The cream of the rich 140-pound division.

So who wins the championship match of the first “ Elite Eight Boxing Classic?”

Well, first things first. Thanks for your insight in so many comments and e-mails after the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds, particularly those who were respectful in disagreement. You seemed to understand that this series was merely meant to be fun and spark debate.

We all know how difficult it is to predict how one elite fighter would do against another. Some readers believe Zab Judah would’ve won this competition. Some suggested that Marcos Maidana would’ve KO’d Victor Ortiz again. And some thought Alexander and Ortiz would’ve won their semifinal fights.

They all might be right. That’s the beauty of this: It’s all entertaining speculation until they meet in the ring — or in a tournament.

In the end, Bradley and Khan, certainly two of the most-gifted fighters in the world, survived the quarterfinals and semifinals in our eyes to earn a spot in the championship match of our competition and a chance to prove who is the best junior welterweight.

Some background:


ÔÇó The single-elimination tournament had three rounds: quarterfinals, semifinals and championship match. We posted one round each day beginning with the quarters on Wednesday, the semis Thursday and the final on Friday.
ÔÇó We selected the eight 140-pounders we believe are the best in the world.
ÔÇó We encourage you to post comments at the end of this blog item. We want to hear your opinions on the outcome.

Including seeding

No. 1 Timothy Bradley unanimous decision over No. 8 Lamont Peterson
No. 2 Devon Alexander unanimous decision over No. 7 Andreas Kotelnik
No. 3 Amir Khan 10th-round TKO over No. 6 Zab Judah
No. 5 Victor Ortiz unanimous decision over No. 4 Marcos Maidana

Including seeding

No. 1 Bradley split decision over No. 5 Ortiz
No. 3 Khan unanimous decision over No. 2 Alexander


No. 1 Bradley vs. No. 3 Khan
The action: The 5-foot-6 Bradley comes in with the same disadvantage he has against many opponents — a height deficit. That hasn’t been a problem for him because of his skills, quickness and fire. In this case, though, his taller opponent — Khan is 5-10 — is at least as skillful and quick as he is. The Southern Californian will rely on his tenacity more than ever in this fight. Khan has never faced anyone with Bradley’s all-around ability and passion. He’ll have to fight a perfect fight to win the tournament. Bradley fights carefully but is clearly the aggressor at the opening bell, patiently trying to get inside of Khan’s long, snapping jab while landing a few of his own. And he is able to land some power shots — including body blows that cause Khan to wince — because of his quickness and timing in spite of Khan’s defensive skills. Nothing does much damage, though … at least not yet. Meanwhile, Khan looks like a miniature (and much faster) Klitschko, using his height and jab to keep his smaller opponent at bay and — his left like a tight coil — waiting for an opening to unload a power shot. The crowd is waiting to see what happens the moment Bradley lands a clean shot when, in the third round, BAM! ÔǪ a left by Khan sends Bradley reeling against the ropes for a knock down. Bradley, tough and in prime condition, gets up on steady legs and holds until the bell rings. Khan remains in charge and increases his lead with his perfect fighting system, which has been fine tuned by trainer Freddie Roach. Bradley is too good to be dominated, though. Sensing he is falling behind by the middle rounds, Bradley attacks Khan with a controlled ferocity that reveals some chinks in the Briton’s armor. Khan is able to avoid most of the onslaught, using his uncanny anticipation and quick feet, but no one could emerge unscathed from this. Bradley feints a left hook and then lands a straight right on Khan’s cheek, snapping his head back and putting him on his pants. Khan, his head hanging, is hurt but he proves by getting up — as he did against Alexander — that he can absorb a clean punch. He holds for a few moments to regain his senses and, with about 30 seconds to go in the round, is able to stay out of trouble until the bell rings. Bradley isn’t finished, though. It’s all Khan can do to keep the muscle-bound little man off him and his lead shrinks round by round. The result is in doubt as the bell rings for the 12th round and the crowd — witnessing something special — roars in anticipation. The fighters, both in tremendous physical condition but slowing down, stick with what has worked for them — Bradley attacking and Khan boxing. A minute remains when Bradley, determined to win the round, throws a reckless left hook that misses the mark and his head is wide open … SMACK! A right hook from Khan sends Bradley spinning to the canvas and he might be out. The referee counts ÔǪ 1 ÔǪ 2 ÔǪ Bradley, shaking his head, is slowly getting up ÔǪ 3 ÔǪ 4 ÔǪ he gets to his feet as the seconds wind down. Khan pounces on his wounded prey but Bradley is so resilient that he is able throw right back. The two stand toe-to-toe flailing away as the crowd stands and screams. At the final bell, they stop throwing punches and embrace. They, too, knew they had engaged in a memorable battle. No one has any idea who won but, clearly, neither is a loser on this night.

The result: Khan by unanimous decision (114-111, 114-111, 113-112).

Quote from winner: “A lot of people wrote me off when I lost to (Breidis) Prescott. I even knew I had to make some changes, which is why I came to America to work with Freddie. I hope people will give me credit now. I just beat the best fighter I ever fought and won the tournament. I couldn’t be happier.”

Quote from loser: “I thought I did enough to win but Amir deserves credit. He was a lot faster than I thought he’d be and that jab ÔǪ I had to work so hard to get around it. I’m OK. I think I proved how good I am even though I lost. Get used to me. I’m gonna be around for a long time.”

Note: Tell us how you think the Bradley-Khan fight would’ve played out. And who knows? We might actually see it in the near future.

Michael Rosenthal can be reached at [email protected]