By Ben Carey
Amir Khan has been ordered to defend his WBA light-welterweight title against interim champion Marcos Maidana. Purse bids will be opened at the WBA’s offices in Panama on January 18 and the contest must then take place within 90 days.
The WBA’s ruling has led some to speculate whether Khan will vacate his world title rather then risk damaging his rebuilt reputation against the dangerous Argentinean who has 26 stoppages from his 27 wins.
BoxingScene.com reportedly “has heard some serious talk going around the industry that Khan will vacate the junior welterweight title if the WBA forces him to fight Maidana next.” However, in an interview over at Eastsideboxing.com this week Khan appeared to be relishing the danger of Maidana’s impending challenge.
It will be interesting to see who is proven correct. Given the choice it seems that Khan is happy to take on all-comers, regardless of the threat they may pose to him. Love him or loathe him (as fans seem to do so in equal measure), Khan has never been a fighter who has shirked a challenge since turning pro following his glittering amateur career in 2005. Amir’s eagerness to reach the top saw him take an unnecessary assignment against Breidis Prescott for which his recklessness was duly punished inside a minute.
After dusting himself down with a second round confidence boosting win over Oisin Fagan, Khan jumped straight into a make-or-break contest with the legendary (though faded) Marco Antonio Barrera. The Bolton man followed his cuts-win triumph over Barrera by dethroning WBA champion Andriy Kotelnik in his first meaningful contest at light-welterweight in July. Whatever Khan’s defensive shortcomings, his courage surely cannot be questioned.
The Bolton quicksilver will always have his critics though. These same critics who accused Khan of previously ducking domestic rivals Jon Thaxton and John Murray will resurface if he elects to sidestep Maidana in favour of pursuing a clash against either a shopworn Ricky Hatton or Juan Manuel Marquez. Maidana has lost only once in 28 fights, ironically on a split decision when challenging Andriy Kotelnik for the WBA crown in February 2009.
The Argentinean showed what he is all about though when stopping the highly touted Victor Ortitz in June during a wild up-and-downer in which Maidana recovered from two early knockdowns to eventually overwhelm Ortitz in round six.
It would represent a significant risk but Maidana could be the perfect opponent to launch Khan into America which is believed to be high on Amir’s list of priorities for 2010. The fight could potentially draw comparisons with Naseem Hamed’s spectacular US debut win against Kevin Kelley in 1997 in which Hamed knocked out Kelley in round four after the pair swapped multiple knockdowns in a back-and-forth cliffhanger.
Whether Khan could similarly climb off the canvas to triumph against Maidana is open to debate though.