MANDALAY BAY, LAS VEGAS - Amir Khan (26-2) re-enters the ring after a turbulent 6 months, to put his freshly reinstated WBA Super World title on the line in a unification match-up against the undefeated Danny Garcia (23-0), who brings his WBC title.
Khan was last seen out losing to Lamont Peterson, in a fight which could, all told, scarcely have had fewer controversies attached. Khan was deducted two points for holding; the validity of knockdowns were questioned; plus the "cat in the hat" was seen "assisting" with the scoring. Khan lost a controversial split decision that many pundits and fans scored in his favour, even with the point deductions. The WBA ordered a rematch and then, to top it all off, Peterson failed a drugs test for testosterone and admitted that he had been using prior to the previous bout.
Garcia has stepped into the breach and should hopefully provide live opposition. The bookmakers are confident that Khan will emerge on top, with a best price of 1/5 (Skybet, Ladbrokes) available. 9/2 is offered against Garcia (bet365, Bwin) and the draw is 33/1 (Skybet, Boylesports).
Khan is the UK's highest profile fighter on the world scene, having jumped ship from Frank Warren to join Golden Boy Promotions in the US. It's certainly a different Khan to that seen reduced to an undercard fighter against Oisin Fagan in 2008, after having lost to Briedis Prescott by way of a brutal first round KO. Khan has of course not only joined GBP, but is also now trained by Freddie Roach. The move up from lightweight to light-welterweight appears to have bolstered Khan, whose legs now look significantly stronger. He'll never be remembered as granite chinned, but does appear to have put to bed the "glass jawed fraud" jibes.
Until Peterson, Khan had been well matched by GBP. He was built up against feather-fisted opposition before partaking in a far more dangerous fight against a powerful, albeit limited, boxer in Marcos Maidana. The bout produced one of the fights of the year and allowed Khan to show his doubters that he could survive a good shot. Since then, Khan has been constantly mentioned as an opponent for pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather. The Peterson fight appeared to have derailed this, although with Mayweather in prison and Peterson now having been caught cheating, a win in this fight could yet see a clash between Khan and Mayweather in early 2013.
Khan and Garcia are only separated by just under 2 years and 5 fights, but the younger man, Garcia, is relatively wet behind the ears, in spite of the small gap in age and number of fights. A comfortable unanimous decision last time out against faded great Erik Morales is the only real name of note on his record. That's not to say that he won't turn out to be something special; but as with my analysis of the Froch vs Bute fight, top level experience is far and away the best indicator and it's extremely difficult to assess Garcia on the basis of his resume to date. In the Froch vs Bute fight, this made backing Froch a no-brainer, given that he was the outsider in that fight and had home advantage. Khan is justifiably an odds-on jolly in this, based on a similar rationale.
It's possible that Garcia will make a mockery of these odds and catapault himself onto the world stage, but it would seem far more likely Khan's experience will allow him to justify favouritism. The fight has "watching brief" written all over it, and I'm reluctant to back either fighter in the win markets.
Khan is undoubtedly slick, quick and skilled; however, he has a tendency not to sit down on his punches which, whilst leaving him less vulnerable to counter, means that he doesn't carry devastating power. That's not to say that he's incapable of stopping opponents, but this almost always comes by way of the referee's intervention, rather than a KO. The only exception being Judah, where he tried to claim a low blow, having seemingly run out of ideas, and was counted out.
Nor is Garcia a concussive puncher. A KO ratio of just over 60% is not hugely impressive, given his level of opposition. I'm therefore slightly surprised to see the bookmakers pricing up the stoppages as the most likely methods of victory. Khan is a standout 5/4 (Bodog) and Garcia a standout 10/1 (Sportingbet) to win inside the distance. If you are inclined to back Khan for the stoppage victory, then it's probably worth taking the 7/4 offered by Skybet on him winning by TKO, given the fact that the KO appears so remote.
Khan and Garcia are 7/4 (Skybet) and 11/1 (bet365, Stan James) respectively to win by way of decision. The 7/4 about Khan by way of decision looks a bit of value to me, but I would prefer the 11/10 offered by Betfred on the fight going the distance, if forced to bet.
I'd expect to see Khan ease to a relatively easy points victory in this, although no outcome can really be discounted given the essentially unknown menace that Garcia may, or may not, present. Whilst I will be watching this fight with as much intrigue as the earlier Haye vs Chisora fight, it will be, as stated, very much a watching brief for me on this one.
Amir Khan v Danny Garcia Fight Result
Amir Khan v Danny Garcia Method of Victory
Amir Khan v Danny Garcia Round Grouping