Boxing


Khan Outclasses St.Clair Plus Full Undercard Report

amir khanBy Andrew Wake: In what was supposed to be his toughest test Bolton’s Amir Khan retained his Commonwealth lightweight title by outclassing and outboxing Australia based Guyanan Gairy St.Clair on way to a unanimous decision victory, 120 – 108 on all cards.

The Olympic silver medallist did have to get his way through bursts from the challenger but on the whole he dominated proceedings from bell to bell and will now hope to contest his first world title later in the year.

Khan was cautious in the opening frame as he worked behind an authoritative jab that pieced St. Clair’s peek a boo guard on several occasions..

The action picked up half way through the third as Khan let his hands go and had the crowd standing on their feet. St. Clair, who was a world champion at super-featherweight less than 18 month ago, showed that he has a world class defence by covering up and absorbing Khan’s flashy combinations on his gloves and arms.

St.Clair, who is nicknamed “Superman”, attacked well in the fourth but it was still the defending champion that did the more eye catching work and again discouraged the Guyanan with his blurring hand speed.

The following round took a similar trend but, then in sixth round, St.Clair landed a clubbing right that, added to the cute work he’d already done, swung a close round in his favour for the first time - the judges, however, did not agree.

In the seventh and eighth it was all Khan again as he bloodied St.Clair’s nose and kept him at bay by boxing beautifully from range. Every so often Khan would throw caution to the wind and come forward, look to land yet more blistering combinations but still didn’t land anything to suggest he could become the first man to halt the battle tested former world titlist.

The best round of the fight was observed in the ninth as both combatants got off strings of punches. Khan backed St.Clair up with yet another dazzling flurry but the challenger, who is 33 years old today, fired back with some stinging blows to the champion’s body.

St.Clair did a strange little dance at the start of the tenth that said “Hey, look at me. I’ve still got plenty in the tank.” And it was true, despite his advanced years and being in his 46th professional bout, it was clear that the little Aussie based fighter was superbly conditioned and, having lost every round (except one in my book), still felt he was in the fight. Amir had other ideas though and continued to keep the challenger away with thumping jabs.

Knowing he needed a knockout the challenger came out looking to score in the final round but found it almost impossible to get on the inside and the Bolton boy wonder continued to deftly outbox him.

21 year old Amir will now turn his attention to a possible world title tilt as he aims to outdo Prince Naseem Hamed by becoming Britain’s youngest ever world champion. As stated previously, I still have my reservations as to whether the young stylist is ready for the big names of the division like Juan Diaz and his namesake David yet but it seems to be what Khan is gunning for.

His most likely route to world honours should be through the WBO as it appears likely that the Puerto Rican based sanctioning body will strip their champion Juan Diaz and install big punching Aussie, and current interim title holder, Michael Katsidis as their main man. Personally, though, I’m still not sure if Amir is ready even for Katsidis and would rather see him in against someone like British rival Jon Thaxton or European kingpin Yuri Romanov.

Undercard

Michael Jennings successfully negotiated the first defence of his WBU welterweight title by stopping Crawley’s Ross “The Boss” Minter, son of former world middleweight champion Alan, in the ninth round of what had been an excellent contest.

Jennings, known as “The Lurcher” appeared to have Minter’s number as early as the first round as he tagged the challenger with a lead right that forced his legs to buckle and appear to touch down. Minter put his arms up to suggest he wasn’t hurt and referee Micky Vann allowed the action to continue without a count. Jennings swarmed around his opponent like an angry wasp looking to sting again for the rest of the round but in the final seconds Minter, whose head had by now cleared, got off some decent shots of his own.

Minter came out full of intent in the third and put together a flashy flurry but the dominance was short lived as the session was controlled again by Jenning’s work from distance. As had happened in the previous two rounds, Minter finished well but by then it was too late to swing the round in his direction on my card.

With ten seconds remaining the fourth, a furious right hand from the champion detonated on the side of Minter’s head and his legs dipped again. Minter, clearly dazed, throw a couple of hopeful punches but Jennings landed again with a right handed uppercut and the challenger found himself on the canvas.

“The Boss”, by now cut on his forehead and on his ear had a better fifth and seemed to be gaining in confidence as he landed with some decent work on the inside but on the whole it was still Jennings who was doing the cleaner work.

Tides turned briefly in the seventh stanza as Minter drew the champion into fighting his fight and began closing the gap on the cards. The eighth appeared to be following suit until in the final ten seconds the champion from Chorley caught Minter with a sweeping left hook and seemingly had him out on his feet. Minter was saved by the bell.

Jennings, who moves to 32 – 1 (15), concluded business at the end of the ninth when a stunning left hook put Minter on his back. The challenger did rise after taking an eight count but when a couple more shots were landed, Minter’s trainer Johnny Eames did the right thing and threw the towel in.

Minter, who was also stopped in his last outing by Freddy Curiel, falls to 17 – 3 (8).

Liverpool’s gangly framed Derry Matthews, the 2007 boxing writer’s young fighter of the year, scored an impressive first round stoppage of Nikoloz Berktsashvili of Georgia and has now set his sights at a shot at one of the 126 pound division’s big guns.

24 year old Derry, the reigning WBU featherweight champion, came out swinging and looked like he couldn’t miss as he landed several hard to rights to Berktsashvili’s head and body.

With 1.14 to go in the opening frame Matthews connected a crisp left-right to the Georgian’s midsection, forcing him to take a knee. Berktsashvili was up at the count of eight but Matthews was sensed victory was in sight and backed him up against the ropes before closing the show with hard left hook to the body. The fight was scheduled for eight rounds and was a non title affair.

Speaking about his quick win Matthews, who now moves to 20 – 0 with 11 kos, told ITV “You don’t get paid for overtime The combination I hit him with I’d been working on George and Danny. I was fully focused on the fight.

“I proved I’m the best featherweight out there at the moment so bring more fights on for me. I hope Frank Warren gets more fights and I hope one of them will be at the Liverpool Arena.”

He added “I’ve got my eye set on the WBO title. I’m fully focused on Steve Luevano. I take each fight as they come and I’m just hoping Frank Warren can get me that WBO shot.”

West Ham’s Matthew Marsh, kitted out in the Hammers’ famous claret and blue, put last October’s stoppage loss to Derry Matthews behind him by blasting out Ajibu Salum of Tanzania in the 1st round. It was the first knockout Marsh has recorded in his professional career.

Brother Liam, Ryan and David Walsh all made successful debuts by stopping their opponents early.

Dagenham’s former world featherweight title challenger Nicky Cook made a successful return after eight months out by stopping Kirkor Kirkorov in the second round. Cook’s record now reads as 28 wins with 16 KOs against a solitary defeat.

Article posted on 03.02.2008



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