Amir Khan has had 15 title fights since 2007 and his welterweight debut against Luis Collazo at MGM Grand on Saturday was no exception. His opponent was strong and game but somewhat limited as a boxer and was expected to test Khan’s ability to deal with raw power and aggression.
Khan showed progress in the way he used his speed. His fast footwork did not appear to be chaotic like in previous outings and maneuvered him in proper range and correct angle towards the heavy handed southpaw Collazo. His hand speed was purposeful this time; he delivered sharp straight shots from comfortable range combined with good movement and defensive alert. The bulky and menacing Collazo was dazzled by the fast and accurate combos and constant motion of his opponent while he was looking for an opening and trying to walk Khan down to the corner.
Khan scored a knockdown in the 4th when he caught his opponent off balance and off position with a good shot on the point of the chin. Collazo missed and turned sideways towards Khan who was sharp and precise with his right hand and put him down. After that Amir Khan displays overall style improvements in his UD win against Luis Collazo obviously decided he can not afford to box with Khan whose boxing ability was from a different league. He dropped his hands, forgot about boxing footwork and started walking like a pedestrian into Amir’s pot shots luring him to open up. He took two or three from Khan hoping to lay a heavy glove on him as a counter. At least he seemed to have found his balance once gave up boxing stance and footwork.
Khan’s biggest setback used to be lack of consistency and concentration. He could out-box almost any opponent for three rounds. Later on he got sloppy, complacent and lost focus, he dropped his guard and was ready to bite on any invitation for an exchange counting on his speed. Speed without caution and discipline had turned into a flaw instead of an asset. Amir used to out speed himself and left himself open especially when he landed two or more in a row. His power is not decisive and could not deter a strong-willed opponent who hoped to turn the tables and capitalize on Khan’s lack of survival instincts. He was too adventurous in the ring and did not know how to “quit while he is ahead” during exchanges.
Kahn appears to have learned how to survive tough moments and he even has proof for that as the referee deducted a point form him for holding in round 7 after several warnings. He was hurt and he lost his footing in that round so he did the right thing. His thirst for adventures appeared to have been replaced by a down to earth approach. He had no such “worries” when he fought Danny Garcia – it was beneath him to try to clinch and hold when he really needed a safe haven. This time it was different and the result was different as well. Excessive holding is a foul but when tying up isn’t enough, a reasonable and well timed clinch is just what boxers like Khan need when the going gets tough. He rode the bad spell against Collazo and survived to see and win the following rounds. In the 10th we saw again a new, organized and cool Khan who crowded his opponent when he was hurt and went after him until he was down. He even used body shots to break down the opponent, something unseen from him before, especially under pressure and during excitement.
Luis Collazo may not be the most impressive scalp under Khan’s belt but for hype and image reconstruction purposes he did his part. Khan demonstrated survival skills and hinted he could be dangerous even in the upper weight class. His classic rangy boxing skills were showcased along with his new found resilience towards adversity. He has learned to try to tie up, smother and hold the foe if he has to instead trying to punch his way out of a tight spot. He has achieved some control over close range and chooses when and how to fight on the inside. His defensive discipline has made a leap forward as well.
Khan is rangy and fast with good boxing skills and unless he gets hurt, which happens almost in every fight recently, he is a handful. Apparently he has worked on his defensive problems as he has learned to use all means necessary to weather the storm. He wasn’t a puncher at light-welterweight so he may have the punch for welterweight but he always had speed and offensive skills, it’s his defensive package that needs to be constantly upgraded.