Amir Khan — Out of Service Concorde

By Jeff Weston on July 3, 2017
Amir Khan — Out of Service Concorde
With Khan, we are always waiting. For him to understand who he is again. (Dan Evans)

There is no obvious hardship or toughing it out in a meat locker. There is no plan of sorts apart from wistfully chasing the big bucks…

Amir Khan used to be a boxer. In 2007 and 2008, he did what all boxers do early on in their career — he fought a lot; five times in each year. By 2011, he was still climbing through the ropes — a healthy three times — in an effort to show off his wares.

During those formative years, he took some notable scalps which helped him develop: Willie Limond; Graham Earl; Paul Malignaggi; and the giant, Mandalay Bay Hotel fight against Marcos Maidana.

It was this same Las Vegas ‘crime scene’ which was to disrupt Amir Khan’s career in July 2012 versus Danny Garcia after the blip of Lamont Peterson. Khan embarrassed Garcia for nearly three rounds but then got impatient and sloppy and started to fight a ‘close up’ Philadelphia fight. When the left hook came, it changed Khan’s career forever.

“Timing beats speed every time,” Garcia apparently said before that bout. He was right, but Khan’s profligacy, the nonsensical harnessing of his God-given skills was the real reason for his failure.

Five years on, after the part-time rebuilding or renovation of his career and May 2016’s show fight with Saul Alvarez, Khan has put three dates firmly in the diary: “Next fights will be: November / December 2017. April / May 2018. November / December 2018.”

If this 30th May Tweet — perhaps slightly exuberant, given that it came on the eve of his 4th wedding anniversary — is to be taken seriously then it is both presumptuous (that he won’t get flattened at the end of the year) and a little naïve.

Set against the rise of the ‘superpower’ city, Manchester — next door with its many cranes in the sky and endless construction projects — Khan’s star and that of his home town, have dimmed.

As I recently overheard a commuter and Mail Box Express employee put it (one of the many Boltonians that seek work further east): “It’s everywhere you look, innit, yet our town’s on its ass.”

Khan’s recent endeavours have, to some extent, mirrored the fate of his birth place. Bolton, despite its surrounding magnificence, has begun to look a little down at heel, perched on its derriere: boarded-up car showrooms, barren multi-storeys, Bradshawgate — its entry and exit point — like a wounded matador.

When Khan was poleaxed by Canelo over a year ago, it not only echoed the relegation of the local professional football team, Bolton Wanderers to the 3rd tier (a place they hadn’t been for quarter of a century), but quietly signalled that a new dawn was upon us.

For…with Khan, we are always waiting. For him to understand who he is again. (An undeniable 147lbs welterweight.) For him to pull away from the celebrity choke.

No matter what resplendent circus or opera is playing out in his head Khan needs to give it one last run at his true level. He needs to wave on in not money or the servile snippets that still frequent the back pages of The Bolton News but rather proper opponents.

Harsher critics would claim that he no longer matters. That nobody sees him as significant in any weight division. He is, to put it bluntly, the train that never comes despite the grand, tannoyed announcements.

Leaves on the track. Ramadan. Switching disciplines. Having a ‘riot’ with the Pakistani cricket team. Dubai. Charity gigs. Shisha lounges. Larry King. Channel 5 News. There is always seemingly something to keep him occupied, apart from the very thing that created him. Boxing.

Sure, he slopes off occasionally to Virgil Hunter for a handful of intense training sessions. But these hardly represent a Balboa movie. There is no obvious hardship or toughing it out in a meat locker. There is no plan of sorts apart from wistfully chasing the big bucks.

Colossal fights have been mentioned: a domestic blockbuster with Kell Brook; the chance to avenge things with Danny Garcia; and, of course, the meaningless, projected “£30m” scrap with Manny Pacquiao. If Manny was still a vintage wine able to knock over a bottle of Vimto, then it might not matter so much. Alas, he has been exposed badly since 2012.

The last four months in this brutal game have served to demote all these named Khan targets anyway. In the ascendency now are Errol Spence Jr, Keith Thurman and an Australian by the name of Jeff Horn. Would any of these undefeated belt holders consider Khan? Not if they’re legacy fighters with an eye on sweeping up the division. And with the welterweights set to absorb Terence Crawford, Mikey Garcia and even the young, 5’ 6” Gervonta Davis down the line, it will be no place for glass chins.

Such a label is admittedly unfair and Khan at times, during his career, has been a joy to watch, a bona fide crowd pleaser. But the neglect (maddeningly so), the attention to detail regarding the balance sheet and not so much the boxing, has infuriated his more ardent followers.

Khan can continue to hang out with people who’ll tell him he’s had a stellar career. That he’s mesmerized and transfixed the general public with his speed and footwork. But such people don’t help. They merely turn him into a portfolio. They celebrate the paraphernalia and trappings extraneous to the sport.

If Khan is to ready himself for one more assault then he must stop being ubiquitous for the wrong reasons. Shisha lounges. Charity gigs. Talk shows. Worlds where a suit is more important than integrity.

When you fight less than Marlon Brando acts, then there is a problem. Distractions and excuses begin to hold sway. You forget why you put the gloves on in the first place. To outwit an opponent. To gain esteem. To sweat and feel the thrill between risk and adventure.

Amir Khan isn’t finished yet. He’s just the out of service Concorde on the runway. Perhaps afraid to fly. Perhaps afraid to set aside the blether that crowds out his life and diminishes his aptitude.

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  1. Anonymous 07:17am, 07/04/2017

    Amir is a motor-mouth badly in need of a PR person or savvy agent.  His call-outs suggest early onset dementia. SICK

  2. Bov bobson 12:11am, 07/04/2017

    Very good article. Amir unfortunately is to easily distracted. A waste of talent!