Khan Avoids Floor To Stop Lawton In Four

07.10.07 - By Joe Mills: What a difference a weekend can make. After Amir Khan’s July struggle with Scotland’s Willie Limond and in light of British Lightweight Champion Jon Thaxton’s impressive career resurgence and formidable power, most were picking Thaxton to starch Khan should that fight ever materialise..

amir khanHowever after a Friday night that saw Thaxton have his own lacklustre performance against Dave Stewart, who he would stop in the last, Khan’s performance last night in stopping Scott Lawton, while perhaps not silencing any critics has certainly reduced them to hushed tones.

The fight took place at the Nottingham Arena, the site of Amir’s first round TKO of Vitali Martynov. However Khan’s opponent Scott Lawton came in with superior credentials to his previous Nottingham conquest, with a 20-3-1 (4KO) record in decent company. However most Khan detractors pointed to that paltry knockout record as reason why Lawton was unworthy of the opportunity. It is true that Lawton is far from world class, or even top-line domestic class, but he is a solid pro.

From the start this seemed very much a “getting back on the horse” exercise after the rough ride Amir suffered in wresting the Commonwealth Lightweight strap from the game Limond. Lawton came in with a decent enough record but little danger of ending Khan’s brief reign. However before the first bell it seemed that all was not as it should be for Khan. When The Ring Light Welterweight king Ricky “The Hitman” Hatton visited the Khan dressing room, Amir had an uneasy expression on his face. And this tentative look accompanied him to the ring where he looked nervous and almost teary eyed during the introductions.

Khan was also greeted with some boos while he paced around the ring during the formalities, which could be interpreted as British fight fans turning their backs on the prospect. However this was more attributable to the impressive local support that Lawton brought with him from Stoke rather than any backlash against Khan. Either way though, Khan looked unusually perturbed.

As Round One began Khan went looking for the right hand early, attempting to set up off his jab and rattle Lawton. His work looked ragged and a little impatient in the embryonic stages of the session. This disorganised air was only amplified when it appeared that trainer Oliver Harrison had neglected to put Khan’s mouthpiece in. With the correct equipment in place the round continued with Lawton looking composed but being unable to make anything happen while Amir’s attempts to engineer the big right hand stayed just the right side of desperate. As the stanza drew to a close Khan landed an excellent left-right combination on a cornered Scott Lawton that seemed to settle him down, while Lawton suddenly looked a little less sure of himself.

Lawton remained tentative at the start of round two and his confidence diminished further when he landed a flurry of rights by the ropes and Khan responded unfazed. Khan seemed to become more assured with every punch he threw, and had Lawton backing up whenever the mood took him. All Scott Lawton could muster was a smattering of weak jabs as Amir bounced forward with renewed purpose. Khan utilised a jab to the body right to the head combination to impressive effect in this round and Lawton, a decent domestic pro, was left looking clueless, a vulnerable spectator in the Amir Khan Show. Lawton did clip Khan with a wild left but Khan countered with his best shot of the fight so far, rocking the former English Lightweight Champion with a solid left of his own. Scott Lawton was certainly displaying more bravery than many previous Khan opponents, but had run out of ideas as the second came to a close.

The third stanza was equally fruitless for Lawton, he reverted to roughing Khan up on the ropes but whenever he wasn’t holding the Commonwealth Champion he was being peppered with lightning-quick blows. Amir ran through the whole textbook of punches cover-to-cover as he went to work on the challenger’s head and body. Lawton would sporadically attempt to come back but Khan was in and out too quick for any of the blows to do more than graze him.

The fourth round was mercifully brief as Lawton while brave, was being outclassed at every turn. Khan once again found a crisp left-right combination, with the left hook looking particularly brutal as Lawton’s legs became shaky. The Olympic Silver Medallist followed up with a barrage of right uppercuts on the ropes as referee Victor Loughlin called a halt to the action.

This result needs to be kept in perspective, Lawton is a decent fighter but he is far from top-level domestically, never mind anything higher. Khan is still making noise about world titles and his next opponent could and should be a step towards that class. Luton-born former WBO Interim title challenger, Graham Earl was featured prominently by ITV cameras and commentators John Rawling and Duke McKenzie during the evening and other sites are already taking it as gospel that he will be in the opposite corner on December 8th in Bolton. Earl would be a great test for Khan, though it is debatable how much the former can have left in the tank after that FOTY candidate with Michael Katsidis in May.

Of course the shadow of British Champion Jon Thaxton still looms for Khan, though it must be noted that Thaxton took three more rounds than Khan to bring about Lawton’s downfall. However to recycle the age-old cliché “styles make fights” and thus neither fighters chances should they meet cannot be judged on their Scott Lawton-conquering alone but on how the pair match up when faced with each other. It certainly appears that that their paths will inevitably meet, and the fight would be Khan’s toughest assignment yet as Thaxton brings power as well as experience, and due to the fact that Lawton was no puncher, the questions over Khan’s chin remain.

Article posted on 08.10.2007

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