Amir Khan was back in action with a victory inside the distance against Carlos Molina on Saturday night. We look at the performance and assess the changes being made under new trainer Virgil Hunter.
By Adam Norman: Twitter @SkySportsNorm. Last Updated: 18/12/12 7:17pm
So the Amir Khan bandwagon is back on the tracks and running full speed ahead with Danny Garcia as the next station stop.
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Well, not quite. Hype seems to precede and also follow 'King Khan' (the moniker says it all) wherever he goes, but should we get carried away by the comeback victory over Carlos Molina? In a word, no.
Did the 10-round beating of a smaller, weaker, inexperienced man tell us anything new about the 26-year-old Brit? Not really.
Was this a reincarnation of the former Olympic silver medallist - the braggart from Bolton who finds it so hard to admit to his weaknesses? Hardly.
What could we expect from Khan five months on from that shocking defeat to Garcia when a clubbing left hook to the ear sent his brain into a tailspin? New trainer Virgil Hunter is the man tasked with ironing out the flaws in Khan's technique that has seen him sparked by Prescott, wobbled by Maidana and battered by Peterson.
We got the fast hands, the lightning combinations, the in-and-out footwork that provides the angles - pretty much what we have come to expect from the two-time world champion with the god-given talent.
But would we see a more measured a approach - a 'hit and not be hit' ideal - more lateral head movement to help protect that susceptible chin? Again, not really. Amir was still remarkably hittable, especially in the first five rounds before the weight and number of shots started to tell on his over-matched foe.
Khan ends losing streak
And from what you could hear from Hunter in the corner, it was not exactly what he was looking for either. Both entering exchanges and coming out of them, Khan seems to get tagged more than most elite-level performers. With the fight slipping from him Molina still rocked Amir's head back with two left hands in the sixth and a big right counter two rounds later.
This just should not be happening against a 17-fight lightweight with no championship experience and not a single 'name' on his resume. It looks like Hunter has his work cut out to turn this ship around.
But what is most concerning is Khan's response after the one-sided fight was mercifully brought to a conclusion before the 11th round. He still thinks Garcia got lucky and that the re-match would be a formality.
"I know I made mistakes," he said, before adding: "If I was fighting Garcia today I would have knocked him out - that's the honest truth."
Where does he get that idea from? It's just hot air. Khan landed 70 per cent of his powershots (according to CompuBox) in rounds seven, eight and nine, but the plucky Molina wasn't even wobbled. The Briton is great to watch, the talent is extraordinary, but the heavy artillery isn't there. He couldn't do what Garcia did to him.
What Khan does best is to systematically break down opponents with his accuracy and volume of punches - see Kotelnik, Malignaggi and Judah. One-punch power he doesn't have.
So come on Amir - enough of the tough talk. This would have been better: "There were mistakes, I need more time with Virgil, I want the Garcia re-match but Virgil will tell me when he thinks I'm ready." I doubt we'll ever hear that sort of humility from him though.
It's still worrying that Khan's attitude, whether in or out of the ring, is to prove everyone wrong - that he's a warrior, that he is the best, he's King Khan!
Josesito Lopez (currently yo-yoing between light-welter and light-middle) is being mooted for Khan next, while Garcia defends against Khan victim Zab Judah in February. If (when?) both come through, Khan will have his re-match. But unless Hunter gives Amir the Andre Ward treatment (hit-and-don't be hit), the result may well be the same.
In the words of Garcia on Sunday: "I think he'll be more cautious...but I know I'll definitely win." The difference is that Danny has history on his side.
Also on Saturday night the 'Filipino Flash' Nonito Donaire rounded off a special year by sending Jorce Arce into retirement courtesy of a left hook in the third round of their championship match at super-bantamweight.
It was the 30-year-old's fourth fight in 12 months after stepping up to the 122lb limit to capture the WBO strap. Remarkably, Donaire is already a four-weight champion and finally becoming recognised outside of his native country as one of the greatest boxers of his generation.
If Bob Arum and Golden Boy can finally settle their differences sit round the table (odds on that please?) a much-vaunted fight with WBC titlist Abner Mares would be one of the highlights of 2013.
On the Khan undercard, Leo Santa Cruz bested Alberto Guevara over 12 rounds to retain his IBF bantamweight title. The Mexican wasn't at his best in his fifth outing of the year but kept the all-important '0' with some comfort. UK fans will get to know the name well in 2013 as Doncaster's Jamie McDonnelll is his mandatory challenger.
Watch Khan v Molina here with Sky Go.