Amir Khan has split with the UK´s top promoter, Frank Warren. Khan has signed a contract with Oscar De La Hoya´s Golden Boy Promotions.
The move is a monumental kick in the teeth to Warren, who had performed a minor miracle in salvaging Khan´s boxing career, after a shattering first round knockout at the hands of Colombian Breidis Prescot had left it in tatters.
Only last week Warren was quoted as saying he hoped Khan didn’t develop “amnesia” when the WBA light-welterweight champion announced he had taken a leaf out of David Haye´s book and formed his own promotional company – Khan Promotions.
In an interview last week a philosophical Warren seemed almost resigned to losing his fighter;
“Look, whatever’s going to happen is going to happen. You just hope that people don’t suffer from amnesia, that’s all I can say. I have delivered all I said I was going to do. When he turned pro I said I’d look after him and I’d make sure he wins a world title and I’ve done that.”
Now Khan has taken another leaf out of the Hayemaker´s book and signed a three fight deal with GBP. In a press statement Khan announced;
“I am really happy Khan Promotions is partnering with Golden Boy as I know that together they will be the right team to help me continue my career as an elite fighter and to expand my fan base to the United States and around the world. I’m ready to fight anyone, anywhere, anytime and know that Golden Boy will help me accomplish these goals.”
Oscar De La Hoya, the founder and president of Golden Boy said;
“Amir Khan is one of the most talented fighters in the world at any weight. That talent, combined with his charismatic and out-going personality, makes him a promoter’s dream and I feel will one day lead him to being the face of boxing. We are extremely excited to team with Khan Promotions and look forward to introducing Amir to fight fans in the United States and around the world.”
Warren signed Khan after he won silver in the lightweight class at the Athens Olympic games in 2004. Khan was just seventeen years old. Under Warren´s astute guidance, Khan moved quickly up the world rankings, scoring 18 consecutive wins, 13 inside the distance.
Khan then split with the man who had trained him since turning pro – Oliver Harrison, and Cuban Jorge Rubio was brought in primarily to shore up Khan´s leaky defense. Khan´s chin had been found wanting in bouts against Rachid Drilsane, Willie Limond and Michael Gomez, all of whom had put Khan on the canvas.
Rubio was influential in choosing Colombian Breidis Prescot as Khan´s next opponent. Rubio had trained a fighter who had lost a close decision to Prescot, and the Cuban believed Khan was more than capable of handling him.
What ensued was a disaster of cataclysmic proportions.
Freakishly big for a lightweight, Prescot entered the ring with 19 straight wins, 17 by KO. Khan boxed aggressive behind a tight defense, but the Colombian caught him over his guard with a with a hard left hook to the temple. Khan was completely disorientated and a vicious left hook to the jaw floored him heavily. Khan was up without a count, and clearly in desperate trouble. A salvo of shots from Prescot, culminating in the inevitable left hook sent Khan down, flat on his back to be counted out. The fight had lasted just 54 seconds.
Boxing writers and pundits were virtually unanimous in their verdict on the 21 year old from Bolton; he didn’t have what it took. He had zero punch resistance. He should quit.
But Frank Warren still had faith in his young charge, and he was about to do one of the greatest resurrection jobs since Jesus bumped into Lazarus.
Warren sacked Rubio, and employed the services of probably the finest trainer in the sport of boxing today; Freddie Roach.
Just three months after the Prescot catastrophe, Warren and Roach had Khan back in the ring, defeating Oisin Fagan in two rounds.
Now came Warren´s master stroke. When Frank Warren looks back on the fights he has put together, he will find none better than the inspired piece of matchmaking that pitted the wounded young lion Amir Khan against the fading old lion Marco Antonio Barrera. The announcement of the match-up left the UK fight fraternity open mouthed.
The term ´living legend` may be an over used cliché, but it applied to the Baby Faced Assassin from Guadalajara, Mexico. He brought a record of 65 wins, 6 defeats and a scarey 43 knockouts to the party, not to mention seven world titles at three different weights. Sure, he was 35, and sure his best days had been at bantam and featherweight, but he was still Barrera, and many experts believed the Mexican would be too experienced, hit too hard and be too tough for Khan.
But in a display reminiscent of a young Oscar De La Hoya´s destruction of the aging Julio Cesar Chavez in 1996, Khan ripped Barrera apart, stopping him in just five rounds. The official result was a technical decision due to a bad cut on Barrera´s forehead, but the truth was Khan had dominated the Mexican star, winning every round. Barrera to his credit gave it his all and never stopped trying but Khan was just too fast, too big, too strong, and TOO GOOD.
Suddenly, overnight, people started to believe in Khan again. More so now. He had come back from what had to have been the depths of despair. Sure he now had Roach in his corner but Roach couldn’t fight his battles for him. Khan had proved that he wasn’t about to let the Prescot loss haunt him.
His next fight, even though for the world title, was an anti-climax in comparison. Khan dominated the tough, capable Ukrainian Anriy Kotelnik over twelve rounds to grab the WBA light-welterweight crown.
Last month he was back to his blistering best scoring a sensational 76 second knockout over the WBA´s official no1 contender, Dmitriy Salita.
In the same time period that Khan has resurrected his career, his nemesis Prescot has been dreadfully mismanaged. He has gone 1-2 in fights, his sole win being on a tenth round disqualification. He has now lost his last two fights, the last one against Britain’s Kevin Mitchel on the under-card of Khan v Salita.
Amir Khan (22-1, 16 ko´s) is a world champion with big fights and pig purses on his horizon; Prescot is unrated by any governing body and all but forgotten. If that fact isn’t testament enough to Frank Warrens management skills, nothing is.
Ironically, Khan´s split with Warren increases the likelihood of a lucrative domestic super fight with Ricky Hatton later this year. Golden Boy handle´s Hatton´s US promotion, and Warren who promoted Hatton for most of his career was vehemently against Hatton fighting on after his crushing two round knockout at the hands of Manny Pacquiao.
It is the third time in recent years that Warren has had acrimonious splits with fighters that he has taken to world titles; following the defections of Ricky Hatton and Joe Calzaghe. Whether Golden Boy can take Amir Khan any further than Frank Warren could remains to be seen.