Khan Looks to Become a Different Kind of Hunter

By David Matthew on December 14, 2012
Khan Looks to Become a Different Kind of Hunter
“People think they are going to get to his chin—but time will tell.” (Esther Lin/Showtime)

If Hunter’s words prove true, then we can expect a special performance by Khan as he seeks to reassert his status as a top pound-for-pound fighter…

There comes a time in a fighter’s career where they need to add new layers to their game and tweak their application of the sweet science. It happened to Lennox Lewis and Wladimir Klitschko as Emanuel Steward stylistically transformed these two giants into cerebral destroyers. It may happen Saturday night in Los Angeles (Showtime Sports) when Amir “King” Khan, facing Carlos Molina, and his new trainer—Virgil Hunter—attempt to tweak Khan’s fighting style in order to help him rediscover who he is as a warrior, and as a man.

While Khan has provided fans with unforgettable moments with his uncanny speed and emotional firefights, he now must become more than a heart-filled brawler, he must become a more measured tactician who knows his body and strengths more intimately.

After recent thrillers against the likes of Marcos Maidana, Lamont Peterson, and Danny Garcia—all fights which turned into brutal brawls—the young pride of Bolton, England seeks redemption as he begins his resurrection. That resurrection begins with the realization what while he may have the heart of a lion, his physicality and athletic attributes liken him more toward a cheetah, poised to dash at astonishing speed at unseen angles of attack. In fact, that’s precisely what Virgil Hunter so brilliantly alluded to in a recent interview with Sky Sports:

“He (Khan) is a young leopard, just starting to hunt on his own. He’s got the weaponry of a leopard, the instincts and attributes of a leopard. But sometimes they’re in a hurry and think because they’re a leopard that their prey is going to stand there and be eaten. So you have to learn the terrain, practice your stealth, know when to show your head and not to show your head—and when you bite you got to know where to bite, and how hard to bite.”

Indeed, Khan will need the dexterity and intelligence of a cheetah now that every fighter—including Carlos Molina—will seek to chin-check him early to test his resolve: “Mentally, I think he’s very weak right now,” said Molina. “We’re going to jump on him to make him regret why he chose me as an opponent.”

That type of challenge would normally render a reflexive response of bravado from Khan, who has never turned away from of a brawl of will. However, this time around Khan seeks to match that will by maximizing the supremely gifted skill-set that he possesses. In effect, Team Khan is now seeking to temper his lionized heart with a more measured application of his technical gifts.

“After being defeated by Garcia, I knew I needed a change,” Khan said. “My career has been up and down. I’ve fought whoever they put in front of me, never took a step back. But now I’m changing the way I train. I’ve seen massive differences in working with Virgil.”

Indeed, training footage surfaced that would corroborate Khan’s claims.

“The most important thing is for Amir and me to bond,” stated Hunter. “I’m asking him to go to war. He’s dependent on me. If that’s the case, we should have a bond that goes beyond the gym.” Khan and Hunter have spent time together outside the gym, studying film of other fights, and just getting familiar with one other as human beings. Inside the ring, Khan is getting instruction that has been absent of late—everything from learning how to use the size of the ring more efficiently, to newfound punching angles and a more cerebral, measured psychological approach to boxing. We will see if this tutelage manifests into a more multifaceted Amir Khan. Will we see a different fighter, a fighter tactically outpointing his opponent with the stealth of a leopard, or will Khan go for the kill as soon as the first brawl breaks out?

“I think Amir Khan is on a brand new thing,” continued Hunter. “I know people think they are going to get to his chin—but time will tell. Before he even gets to the fight, he’ll be tested right here in camp. People are going to know what Amir Khan is about, and we’re going to put a lot of things to rest. Here comes the resurrection of Amir Khan.”

If Hunter’s words prove true, then we can expect a special performance by Amir “King” Khan as he seeks to reassert his status as a top pound-for-pound fighter.

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

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  1. raxman 06:59pm, 12/15/2012

    Team khan seem to have picked this fight well. an unbeaten guy to make it look credible but a light puncher to keep khan on his feet
    so khan should win - why? because he is better than molina and his chin should hold up to molina’s power - or lack of. and hunter should teach him new tricks to replace old flaws. right?
    i’m not sure.main
    but i don’t see khan’s chin as the problem - nor his ego that continually wants to test his chin - i see AK’s biggest flaw his inablilty to fight inside. its why he lost to Lamont Peterson and its out in the open to anyone who knows the sport. never again will khan be able to use both hands to push his opponent away from him
    even as a 6-1 underdog molina can wins this fight by putting his chin on Khan’s chest and fighting in a phone booth

  2. David Matthew 06:01pm, 12/15/2012

    Thanks thresh.  Salute!

  3. John 12:06pm, 12/15/2012

    Khan has always been interesting if nothing else. To a layman like me, he seems to have some natural gifts in terms of speed but his biggest problem is his ring savvy. Even in fights when he is looking good and starting to dominate, you know at any moment he could get careless and caught with something, and then his chin comes into play.
    To make it worse, when he does gets stunned his ego makes him try to macho his way through, maybe trying to prove to people he can take a punch, rather than using his speed to slip, move, hold or whatever until his head clears. He also doesn’t seem very good up close and takes a lot of uppercuts.
    If his new trainer can instill some discipline then he can still become champion again, but I doubt he has the chin or defence to reign for too long. I do like watching him though, his vulnerability makes him exciting.

  4. the thresher 08:44am, 12/15/2012

    David, you are fast becoming one of my favorite young writers.

  5. NYIrish 05:26am, 12/15/2012

    Khan may get past Molina, but Danny Garcia ruined him. He can’t get over a heavy punch. He makes basic mistakes. Just a matter of time and BINGO! I wouldn’t bet him. Ever.

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