Why is Amir Khan unpopular?

By Stuart Woollard: I writing this article is response to a recent article on ESB suggesting that Amir Khan was unpopular in Britain in part due to his race. Whilst I accept there is a minority of narrow minded racists in all walks of life including boxing fans I did not agree with the author in what he claimed to be one of the fundamental reasons behind Khan's unpopularity..

I would like to go on record as saying that I enjoy watching Khan fight, he has exceptionally fast hands, accuracy and lots of heart and I've never seen him in a dull fight yet. Further more I was at the Khan vs Limond fight and heard nothing but patriotic support for Khan. However, he remains unpopular with a number of British boxing fans who are are all to quick to point out his flaws. I think there are a number of reasons why this is the case.

Khan has not worked his way through what a lot of fans see as a legitimate route to a World title fight. In not challenging for the British title and meeting either of the other 2 best Lightweights in Britain (Thaxton and Murray) his claim of being the best Lightweight in Britain is unproven. Some may argue that he would beat both of these boxers (a claim I would not necessarily disagree with) and that he has bigger fish to fry but closer examination of his records suggests otherwise. Wins over Thaxton and Murray would have given Khan far more credibility with the British boxing public than Earl and Gomez. A challenge for the European title has also not been forthcoming or indeed a fight against any of the current top ten Lightweights in the World.

So are Khan's fights being handpicked? - of course they are, even the most ardent Khan supporter would have to concede that. Beating blown up Super Featherweights and a way past his best Barrera doesn't justify his high ranking. The only time Khan has been in with a legitimate top 20 Lightweight with a good KO ratio he got stopped in 1 round. Khan is with Frank Warren who's ability to get his fighters a World Title shot through the path of least resistance is legendary and whilst commendable from the boxers perspective, this frustrates the true boxing fan. Khan's critics will say that the reason his fights are so carefully picked is because he has a weak chin and based on the evidence to date it would but very hard to argue against this.

Despite Khan's relatively padded record and the failure to hold a win over a World class Lightweight (I do not accept a way best his best Barrera in this category) he frequently makes bold and statements how he will be a World Champion in the P4P list. There's nothing new in a boxer having self confidence or making big predictions but a lot of the resentment towards Khan stems from the fact that he has done very little to justify his comments. Part of the problem is that we have heard it all before, Audley Harrison made similar claims and we all know what happened to him. James DeGale is doing exactly the same after a couple of fights and is also starting to annoy the public. If a boxer is making bold statements then the British boxing fan likes to see him back it up. Froch and Haye have bags of confidence and some would say arrogance but they have backed it up by not ducking anyone and challenging and beating World class opponents.

In summary Khan may well go on to win a World title and fair play to him if he does, I do not dislike him and he seems like a decent lad. However, whilst the general public are being sold a superstar many of us fans see a skilful but flawed boxer navigating through carefully handpicked opponents on his way to a World title shot. If Khan starts taking on dangerous World class opponents he will win the respect of the British public and a win over Kotelnik will be a good start. Having said that does anyone out there really think that Khan would beat Pacquiao, Marquez, Guzman or Juan Diaz? If you believed everything he's says you would.

Article posted on 13.05.2009

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