By Paul Strauss: Amir Khan apparently is looking for another trainer, because he doesn’t want to continue sharing Freddie Roach’s time with Manny Pacquiao. On the surface that seems reasonable; although, it presents obvious problems finding a suitable replacement. It’s a safe bet he’s going to find similar circumstances exist with all of the big name trainers.
Some boxing fans, not necessarily Khan’s, claim Freddie can’t teach the defensive skills Amir needs to protect what some fans believe to be his suspect chin. There’s some truth to that, but it isn’t because Freddie doesn’t have the know-how. Rather, it’s because Freddie’s fighters are generally aggressive fighters, and everyone knows a fighter is most vulnerable when he’s punching.
Of course there’s the old adage that a good offense is a good defense. In football, it can simply mean out scoring your opponent, but it can also mean keeping the ball out of the hands of the opposition. They can’t score without the ball. For it to work, the team better have a good line and a punishing running back, or maybe a good short passing game, because if they just throw it down field, hoping to score fast and big, it’s not likely they will keep the ball long enough to accomplish what they want. In fact, the reverse might be true.
In boxing, there are those who think the objective is simply to be first. For those wanting to practice that style, they should be ready to eat a lot of leather. A fighter needs more than that simple objective. The fighter needs superior speed and accuracy, and if he isn’t a good technician, he’d better at least know how to offset his opponent’s timing and ability to counter. Simple risk takers usually get clobbered.
Khan does have the speed and sufficient power to go with being first. He’s proved that in big fights. That begs the question, did he do anything wrong or make a mistake in his defeat to Garcia? Even Emanuel Steward said probably not. It was just one of those things. Was the punch that started everything simply a lucky shot? The answer is probably not. Garcia was noticeably slower but he does have the ability to time a faster opponent’s punches and counter well, which is what he did against Amir.
If Khan had been a little bit more conservative, and not quite so reckless, he would have had a good chance of busting up Garcia’s face over the course of the fight, and maybe getting a TKO or at least a decision. He chose to go for the early knockout, and he paid for it, but don’t fans want to see exciting fighters who are willing to take chances?
It’s a safe bet Freddie didn’t want Khan to be so reckless, so Freddie shouldn’t be blamed for Khan’s loss. There’s also an intangible associated with great trainers like Freddie and Manny, and successful gyms like Kronk’s and Wild Card. First of all, look at the discernible advantages. In gyms like those, fighters have the best equipment and sparring partners. But, it’s also true, there are things that cannot be touched or seen. It’s true success breeds success. It never hurts for a fighter to be rubbing shoulders with other very good fighters and to be in a positive environment.
Now Garcia seems to be the one determined to excite fans with an early knockout. In his case, it is in a rematch against the wily and tough veteran Erik Morales. In his stellar career, Morales has been in with the best and he’s seen just about everything a fighter can see in the ring. El Terrible would love nothing better than to have Garcia try for an early knockout. That’s Erik’s best hope. Garcia would be at his most vulnerable. Why risk it?
On the other hand, Garcia’s best chance for another victory is to fight a similar fight to the first one, which would give him a better chance of Morales’ age to become a factor and come away with a late stoppage. A lot of x-champs tried for early knockouts in title fights and lived to regret it. Amir knows about that.
Morales also has a proven chin, and fans are certain to remember when he rocked Garcia on at least one occasion in their first bout, so why risk trying to score an early knockout? It’s an unnecessary risk and could prove to be a big mistake.
With a good counter puncher like Garcia, a wise opponent will use a lot of feinting, attempting to get Garcia to commit or play his hand. Then he can counter the counter puncher. If he charges in wildly, depending solely on speed, he’s likely to be doing a different kind of fainting. That’s not likely to happen with Erik.
In addition, it’s a safe bet Morales will be in better shape this time around. Garcia will probably be pretty much the same fighter as in the first match, and that’s pretty darn good. But, the same isn’t necessarily true of Morales. Look for Eric to be better, unless father-time deals a hand. No one can predict exactly when that might happen to a fighter. Sometimes it happens right before our eyes during the course of a fight. But, Garcia can’t count on it. It would be a big mistake to assume that will be the case. The truth is Erik might have at least one more big fight in him, and Garcia should plan accordingly.