Ahead of Saturday night's huge fight against Canelo, Glynn Evans looks at 5 times Amir 'King' Khan shocked the boxing world.
1) Netting Olympic Silver at 17, August 2004.
Over time it has been conveniently forgotten that the British selectors fought hard NOT to send the extravagantly talented teenager to the Athens Games.
At 17, the seven time national junior champion was excluded from entering the Senior British championships and the ABA only conceded to sending Khan to the qualifying events once Pakistan – the land of his heritage – threatened to poach him if they didn’t.
Fresh faced Amir arrived in Greece as Team GB’s solitary boxing entrant – plus its youngest since Welshman Colin Jones 28 years earlier – and was accorded little chance. However, with almost eight million viewers tuning in on the Beeb, he hypnotised the home entrant, the European champion, the Asian champion and a quality Kazakh to claim a berth on the podium.
Defending gold medallist and triple world champion Mario Kindelan narrowly touched him off in the final but only after Khan had soared from zero to household hero inside a fortnight.
2) Getting Iced By Breidis Prescott in 54 Seconds, September 2008.
With 18 straight wins plus Commonwealth and Inter-Continental belts already on his ledger, Khan appeared to be taking the outside lane to a world title ahead of his pay-per-view debut at Manchester’s MEN Arena.
Newly appointed Cuban Jorge Rubio might’ve been an excellent trainer but – to quote Mickey Duff – he couldn’t match the cheeks on his own backside and his selection of the combustible Columbian – world rated by the WBA and unbeaten in 19 with 17 knockouts – earned him the ‘tic tac’, after just one gig.
Only fools rush in but the impetuous and tactically naive 21 year old charged chin first into calamity. A ramrod jab stiffened his legs in the opening 10 seconds, a brace of left hooks put him on his pants after 25, before a vicious finishing volley left him counting birdies moments after.
‘Khan-age’ crowed the press corps! I doubt we’ll be hearing much from him again.......!
3) Resurrection under Freddie Roach, July 2009.
On a mission to rebuild, the suitably humbled Khan committed to Californian coach Freddie Roach. Barely 10 months on, and ironically at the same site as the Prescott mugging, 22 year old Amir was crowned Britain’s third youngest world champion, behind Naseem Hamed and Herbie Hide.
Five pounds heavier and light years wiser, he boxed with impressive skill and concentration to bamboozle WBA light-welter czar Andriy Kotelnik over 12 rounds.
The 31 year old Ukrainian, low on flair and light of punch, was nevertheless a former Olympic finalist himself who’d never been dropped or stopped. ‘King Khan’ toyed with him.
Big props to promoter Frank Warren for once again selecting the right opponent at the right time, and delivering home court.
4) Surviving Purgatory With Marcos Maidana, December 2010
A match-up with the mallet fisted Argentine mandatory was something wise old sage Roach was eager to slalom and he managed to stall for over a year before the WBA finally got ‘heavy’.
‘El Chino’ had terminated 27 of his 30 fights ahead of the allotted number of rounds, and sported a right hand that could send rivals to sleep for days. All looked dandy for Khan though, when he dumped Maidana with a truly crippling left hook to the liver late in round one.....alas, it only served to awaken the beast within.
The South American slugger systematically clawed his way back into contention then placed Khan on Queer St with a maelstrom of an assault in round ten.
In bit part due to skill and instinct, and part luck, Amir muddled through the fog and survived the onslaught in the final two sessions to cop a tight but deserved decision in what several reputable bodies listed as the Fight of the Year.
5) Leaping to Middleweight to Confront WBC Boss ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, May 2016.
At Friday’s weigh-in, expect the Bolton wonder to settle the scales at around 155lbs.....and a sizeable part of that will be enclosed within his scrotum!
Bluntly speaking, ‘King Khan’ might just have the biggest minerals in the sport. Faults remain but a shortfall of courage is certainly not among them.
The Lanc has jettisoned a highly lucrative, imminently more winnable assignment with IBF welter boss Kell Brook to front up to a leading P4P contender in his own ‘yard’, in a spat commissioned for eight pounds heavier than he’s ever previously fought.
Champ ‘Canelo’ is not only ‘strong in the strength department’, he’s been tamed just once in 48 and, still only 25, is yet to hit his prime. Ominous.
The raging redhead will be buoyed by the honour of opening the futuristic T-Mobile Arena on the Las Vegas strip.....and on Mexico’s annual Cinco de Mayo fiesta weekend to boot.
If AK pulls this off, it’ll rank among the greatest giant killing acts in British sporting history.
Subscribe to BoxNation to see the biggest fight in Amir Khan's life when he tackles Canelo Alvarez this Saturday night!