by Stuart Young – You can usually guarantee a late night scrap in Newcastle on a Saturday night & this weekend will be no exception. This Saturday, boxing makes a return to the North East when Amir Khan takes on mandatory challenger Dmitriy Salita at the Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle, in what will be his first defence of his WBA light-welterweight crown he won by outpointing, outworking & outclassing Andreas Kotelnik over 12 one-sided rounds last July. That bout capped a remarkable turnaround for Khan, from Bolton, England, whom 10 months previous was KO’d in 54 seconds by the fists of Colombian ‘banger’ Breidis Prescott..
As Khan’s lay stretched out on the canvas that fateful day in September 2008 his career lay in tatters beside him in Manchester’s MEN Arena, he became a figure of fun for certain sections of the British public & was to become the ‘butt’ of many a pub joke, one which revolved around the popular British based microwave fast-food burger from ‘Rustlers’ who boast how their meal is ‘done’ in just 70 seconds – it paved the way countless quips along the lines of:
Q) What’s the difference between Amir Khan & a Rustlers burger?
A) About 16 seconds!
After the defeat, Khan teamed up with celebrated American trainer Freddie Roach & relocated his fight preparations & sparring to the renowned ‘Wild Card’ Gym in L.A, where training with & alongside, current P4P king Manny Pacquiao has no doubt helped Khan rebuild his career with victories over Irishman Olsin Fagan & Mexican legend Marco Antonio Barrera – who was stopped for only the second time in his career by a technical decision early in the fifth round with Barrera wearing a ‘mask of blood’ not too dissimilar from that of his hero Julio Cesar Chavez ‘wore’ in his first bout with a young Oscar De La Hoya back in ’96, Khan then picked up the WBA title with his victory over Andreas Kotelnik – mission complete?
Well…. not quite, there still lies major questions marks over the quality of Khans chin, Roach himself has tried to down-play these ‘rumours’ by suggesting Khan’s problems were mainly due to his struggle to make the 135lb Lightweight limit & that he is an all together different proposition in the more comfortable 140lb light-welterweight division.
All very well in theory, but….. & it’s a BIG Jennifer Lopez sized but(t) (excuse the pun) myself, & a few more boxing fans & fellow fighters are yet to be convinced, especially Salita, who remarked earlier this week “Khan is chinny, not because of the Breidis Prescott loss. Guys can get taken out in the first round, but he has been dropped by non-punchers”
Khan, confident as ever doesn’t believe Salita well hear the final bell either, saying “I really think I am going to take this guy out, the fight is not going to go the full distance, I can put money on that, even though I don’t bet
Not a lot is known of Salita on this side of the pond, so here’s a little background information.
Dmitriy Salita is an orthodox Jew born in Odessa, a small port in his native Ukraine. Salita, who goes by the nickname ‘Star of David’ fights out of his adopted homeland of America & hails from the mean streets of Brooklyn, New York, he boasts a fine professional record of W30 L0 D1 (16 KO’s).
OK – his record looks good on paper & it has been suggested by some that this could be a tough nights work for Khan, maybe a 50/50 or a 60/40 ‘pick-em’ fight, with maybe a slight edge in favour of the champion.
Wrong! On closer inspection its not being too harsh on Salita to suggest that he is a somewhat untested fighter, who’s never before mixed in the company of an opponent of Khan’s amateur pedigree or professional status.
In truth, Khan should have too much quality, class & blurring hand speed for Salita to cope with.
Being floored by little known fighters such as Robert Frankel & dropped & held to a draw by Ramon Montano, his track-record implies the man has plenty of heart, grit & courage but just as importantly, suggests plenty of inefficiencies.
Of course, he could always land a big clean shot on Khan’s chin & then we would have a REAL fight on our hands, but I personally can’t see any other outcome than Khan controlling the early rounds with his speed, footwork, lateral movement & jab, building up a healthy points lead before eventually trapping Salita on the ropes & raining down a volley of unanswered punches forcing the referee to call a halt to the proceedings somewhere around the seventh or eighth round.
But boxing’s all about opinions & that’s just mine – let battle commence!
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