After Amir Khan lost likely his final boxing battle against Kell Brook, some are quick to criticize a solid boxer and former world champion.
On Saturday, Feb. 19, at the Manchester Arena, former boxing champion Amir Khan probably entered the ring for the last time as a professional boxer. Yes, he dropped a disappointing TKO loss to Kell Brook, but that shouldn’t diminish Khan’s history as a high-level boxer.
Even though this was their first meeting, Khan and Brook had years of built-up animosity. Who knows how things would have gone if they met in their prime, but today when both are 35 years old, Brook was the far better fighter.
A loss can mean lonely times for a boxer. Hangers on move away, and fan approval drops. Being branded as a loser is damning when it shouldn’t be. When two competitors enter the ring, one wins, and the other is defeated. Respect should be had for both, but in the era of social media, it’s easy for people to slam the efforts of the conquered.
Brook proved that he’s currently a better boxer than Khan, but that doesn’t mean Khan’s legacy should be forgotten. Exceptionally high expectations were set for him. He didn’t quite live up to others’ hopes, but Khan did plenty to earn respect as a boxer.
As an amateur, Khan was a junior Olympic and world champion. He won silver at the 2004 Olympic games in Athens. His amateur accolades set the bar high, and the pressure of those achievements couldn’t have been easy to withstand for Khan.
Amir Khan beat numerous world champions in a boxing career that should be remembered fondly
Some expected Khan to be an all-time great because of his amateur accomplishments, but there are no guarantees in life. There’s a world of difference between the amateur and pro ranks, and some people don’t realize how different those two realms are.
When Khan turned pro at 18 years old, his success could also be a weakness. Pressure isn’t easy to deal with, but Khan did alright, considering. He won his first 18 fights before getting knocked out by Breidis Prescott in 2008. Khan’s inability to take a punch was exposed.
Every boxer has a weakness. Khan had speed, power, and stamina, but his defense and durability were suspect. Prescott proved that. Khan did his best to remedy his shortcomings, but physiology can’t be trained. You can either take a punch, or you can’t.
It’s also said that every boxer has a certain amount of punches they can take, and Khan reached that number while he was climbing the professional ranks. Still, Khan’s physical abilities allowed him to become the WBA super lightweight champion in 2009 after beating Andriy Kotelnik by unanimous decision.
Khan defended his title five times over the next two years before losing it to Lamont Peterson in 2011. Khan would never again win a world title, but winning a world title is a rare achievement that most fighters never attain.
Unfortunately, most remember Khan for getting knocked out by Prescott, Danny Garcia, and Canelo Alvarez more than his victories over Marcos Maidana, Paul Malignaggi, Marco Antonio Barrera, Zab Judah, and Devon Alexander. When looking at his résumé, his triumphs are more impressive than his losses.
Khan didn’t have the legacy of a Manny Pacquiao, but not many can become legends. Khan was a great fighter even though he was knocked out numerous times. He did the best that he could and reached an incredibly high level.
Khan’s time in boxing is over. He probably should have stopped in 2019 after defeating Billy Dib, but Khan required proof that his best was in the past. Brook provided that, yet Khan should be remembered and respected as a champion. He did it better than most and has a title and Olympic medal to prove it.
People can mock Khan all they like, but they disregard his career in the process. Khan deserves better than that.