Let me start off by saying I generally enjoy watching Amir Khan fight. He has speed of both hand and foot, he is aggressive and he loves to throw combination punches. Khan is an exciting, dynamic fighter who rarely leaves fans wondering why they tuned in, win or lose.
Adding to the enjoyment I get from watching Khan fight is the fact that it's very rarely a one-sided affair. For all of Khan's hand and foot speed, he is poor in so many defensive fundamentals that he is incredibly easy to hit, and hit clean.
Often moving into rather than away from punches, popping his head up every time he throws a jab or dropping his hands before stepping back, whatever mistake he makes it usually ends with him being clocked and rocked.
In spite of all this, in spite of the enjoyment that usually comes from watching Khan in yet another valiant battle of heart over head, I am not excited at the prospect of Khan taking on IBF Welterweight champion Devon Alexander in December.
I truly don't say this to knock either fighter. Anyone who steps in the ring deserves respect for the dedication they've shown to their training and preparation and the level of bravery it takes to stand one-on-one with another human being to fight.
I say this because, as styles make fights, this is such a clash of styles that I feel there will be more threatening to engage than actually engaging. For the first time in many years fans, tuning in for the usual Amir Khan edge-of-the-seat drama may be disappointed.
Fighters will always fight to their biggest strengths, as they should. Amir Khan will look to use his incredible speed to edge him along to victory. He is also one of the better-conditioned fighters in boxing and can push a frenetic pace for the whole fight while still looking like he has more to give. Khan will look to dart in with quick combinations and dash away before Alexander can fire anything back.
Alexander, who is no slouch when it comes to hand speed and combination punching, is a far superior defensive boxer. His movement around the ring will create angles that nullify the in-and-out attacks of Khan as Alexander simply won't be right in front of him.
Alexander's movement and defensive skill was on display against Randall Bailey, in which he was able to take away Bailey's power using superior footwork and grind out a victory to capture the IBF crown. This is the manner I expect Alexander to approach the Khan fight in as he looks to frustrate his opponent into recklessness.
This is where fans will scream for the Khan of old to show his face. In past fights Khan hasn't been good at sticking to a plan. When all was going well against Marcos Maidana, Khan abandoned the strategy that had been working so well and let his bravado take over. He engaged Maidana in close and was rocked badly.
Alexander will be happy to move around the ring and land counters and small combinations to build up a points advantage.
He will stick to his strategy and hope, with the fans, that Khan will revert to past times and completely abandon the plan he comes in with out of frustration and start to attack blindly, searching for an opening. Alexander showed Maidana that his power is often underestimated as he landed heavier than expected shots almost at will throughout their 2012 bout.
Khan, on the other hand, will look to display a new ability to stay on task and avoid the past reckless behaviour.
One of the aspects of his game Khan wanted to improve on when he aligned himself with Virgil Hunter as his new trainer was his ability to stick to a planned strategy throughout the fight, and to lose the wild and ragged edge that had often been his undoing.
In the two fights Khan's had with Hunter in his corner, he's shown slight improvement in his ability to stay on task. While still having a couple of wild moments, Hunter has been able to calm Khan down and get him back to task with his advice between rounds.
As a fighter who strives to improve, I have no doubt Khan has spent significant time in the gym with Hunter since his last fight in April, working on small aspects of his game and on his focus when times get tough.
This is why I predict a snoozer.
With a new focus and a willingness to trust his trainer and stick to their plan, Khan will become frustrated by Alexander's excellent footwork. However, unlike the old days of him losing his patience and rushing in, only to be countered and put on his backside, Khan will stay focused, follow instruction and try to box his way through.
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