Amir Khan´s 76 second demolition of hopelessly mismatched New York based Ukrainian Dmitriy Salita in the first defense of his WBA light-welterweight crown at Newcastle’s Metro Radio Arena last night has set up the possibility of a mouthwatering domestic super fight between Bolton´s Khan and Manchester´s former two time IBF light-welterweight and WBA welterweight world champion Ricky Hatton next year.
The stark truth is poor Salita had no business being in the same ring as the ruthless, supremely focused Khan, and the Ukranian´s ridiculously inflated position as the WBA´s number one contender was exposed as a sham. In reality Salita is nothing more than a solid club fighter, a fringe contender at best. His number one status speaks volumes about the WBA and its criteria for ranking boxers.
The fired up Khan floored Salita with a straight right just ten seconds into the bout. Salita was down again from a wild barrage from Khan, and when the Ukrainian was floored in his own corner for a third time, the referee had no choice but to stop the contest. A distraught Salita, who was convinced that this was ´´his time“ needed a minute to compose himself on his stool before the referee could officially announce the result to the Geordie crowd.
Khan has put the career threatening 54 second knockout loss to Colombian Breides Prescott behind him, and with the astute guidance of Freddie Roach, he looks like he could well be the main man in the junior-welterweight division. Now all he needs is a big win over a marquee name to truly put himself in the picture for potential mega fights, and Ricky Hatton would be the ideal opponent
Despite Khan´s promoter Frank Warrens negative views on Hatton´s proposed comeback fight against Mexican Juan Manuel Marquez, a Khan – Hatton bout would be a natural, and would follow a precedent of the once great, older fighter clashing with the new young hotshot that stretches back to Joe Bugner v Henry Cooper and includes Dave ´´boy“ Green v John H Stracey, Tony Sibson v Alan Minter, Frank Bruno v Joe Bugner and Joe Calzaghe v Chris Eubank. In each of these examples, the younger fighter was triumphant.
Despite what Frank Warren might say, and lets not forget that Frank used to promote Ricky until the two fell out over legal issues, Ricky Hatton is still an A list fighter, especially in the UK. Khan would make more money in a fight against Manchester City´s most pugnacious supporter than any other opponent right now.
Sports fans in general, and fight fans in particular have short memories. Sure, we all remember seeing Hatton flat on his back against Manny Pacquiao, but we also remember seeing Khan on Queer Street inside a round against Breidis Prescott. When this fight is announced, and it will happen, those negative images will be downplayed, and if anything the fact that both men are big punchers with questionable chins makes the fight all the more exciting. Khan v Hatton will be box-office dynamite, and will surely pack out the only neutral ground big enough to stage it: Old Trafford.
After his man´s win over Salita, Frank Warren was surprisingly keen to downplay a possible Hatton fight.
“I don’t feel Ricky Hatton should fight any more. It’s crazy; you’ve only got to look at the size of him. Maybe he could get himself down to the weight, but one thing’s for sure; his reflexes and his legs are gone. He’s not the same fighter he was. He won’t be able to get out of the way and I don’t think it’ll be the next fight anyway. For Ricky to be able to fight it would take him about six or seven months to get himself into some shape.”
Interestingly, Khan was far less dismissive.
“I think he should come back. He doesn’t want to walk away on the back of a defeat. A lot of people would like to see me fight him and we will have to see where we are. I think he should come back and get over that knockout defeat with maybe one more fight. He is still young. He’s not too old. He still has it in him.”
On the back of his annihilation of Salita, Khan would be a clear favorite if and when the Hatton fight is made. And with Freddie Roach, the tactical mastermind who engineered Manny Pacquiao´s two round destruction of Hatton in his corner, it would take a brave man to back against an equally emphatic Khan victory.