Report & photos by Chris Cozzone
If Amir Khan had anything he wanted to get off his chest during his abbreviated appearance at last night’s postfight press conference, it was being able to say I-told-you-so to critics who’d lambasted him for a lack of chin.
Though his face told a different story – the plot would have to include a meat grinder and a Mack truck – Khan’s moral victory over a naysaying press just might be a bigger win than his 12-round tussle with Argentinean slugger Marcos Maidana.
“All those critics who said Amir Khan has no chin, I think I proved them wrong,” said Khan. “I think I shut up a lot of critics.”
In front of a disappointing-though-boisterous crowd of 4,632 at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Khan showed heart, soul and pop by outboxing, sometimes outgunning, other times outrunning Maidana, for a unanimous decision win to retain the WBA version of the 140-pound championship. Scores were 114-111 twice and 113-112.
“It was a great fight,” said Khan, before he was hustled away by his family for a precautionary medical exam in less than ten minutes. “He was strong. I hit him with big shots and he stood right there in front of me and took them.
“At times, I got caught, but I took it.”
Khan said he would not rule out a rematch with Maidana, but would leave it in the hands of his promotion team.
“Sure, yeah, that’d be great,” he said. “A rematch would be bigger. I made a few mistakes in the fight that I won’t make again. I know I made a few – sometimes I fought with my heart too much, but I’m still young.”
Khan also mentioned Devon Alexander and Timothy Bradley, who was at hand to congratulate the winner, as possible future opponents.
The Roach Report
Trainer Roach elaborated on Khan’s mistakes.
“He’s got some balls,” Roach said of Khan. “But he sat there against the ropes a couple times and we paid for it – it almost cost us the fight.
“We wanted Amir to throw the jab more, but Maidana was able to lure him in a little bit. Amir is a very aggressive person by nature. It’s part of his DNA.”
Roach gave his fighter the first nine rounds but thought Maidana won the last three.
“The tenth round was a real tough round,” Roach admitted. “He showed a lot of heart getting through it and got his legs back in the 11th and 12th, with more success.
“If he’d stuck to game plan and would’ve fought smarter than he did, he would’ve been more productive.”
“One punch short”
With just a couple scrapes, Maidana did not look like a loser at the postfight presser – and he did not talk like one.
“I felt I came one punch short in getting him out of there,” Maidana said. “I think he did a good job surviving and he got across the finish line.
“But I am happy. I made a good fight. I don’t feel like a loser.”
Maidana had two issues, however, with the fight: Referee Joe Cortez and the scores.
“If felt like I was fighting both [the referee and Khan],” said Maidana. “At one point, I thought the referee was even going to punch me.
“He [the referee] kept telling me to, ‘Fight clean! Fight clean!’ I was trying to, but felt Amir was holding too much and wouldn’t let me work.”
Maidana also thought the scores did not reflect the action.
“I thought it could’ve been closer,” he said. “The margin was too wide, but I’m fine now. This is a sport and sometimes that’s the way it goes. I have to accept it and move on.”
Maidana expressed enthusiasm for a rematch, or for a title shot with one of the other 140-pound champions.
‘Vicious’ Victor the Oxymoron
Though most at ringside thought Victor Ortiz had pulled off the win over Lamont Peterson, in last night’s co-main event, he could do no better than a majority draw.
As usual, though, Ortiz’s smile and charisma won more points with the press than the three judges saw in his fight.
“I had fun tonight and have nothing bad, nothing negative to say about anyone,” Ortiz smiled away. “I don’t agree with the results – it’s not what I expected – but all that jibber jabbering, that’s not me.
“They call me ‘Vicious’, but maybe that’s an oxymoron.”
Though a snoozer at first, the fight had its moments, both Ortiz and Peterson landing big shots in isolated exchanges. One judge had Peterson ahead, 95-93, while the remaining saw a draw, 94-94.
“I thought I pulled it off with a least a couple rounds,” said Ortiz. “Seven rounds [for Peterson] one on scorecard? The judges must’ve been asleep or something – but we put on a great show.”
Peterson was a no-show and Ortiz concluded by talking about cheeseburgers and, maybe, a trip to England.