Power or the glory?
Amir Khan may just end Marco Antonio Barrera's career if he can take his best shots, says Jim Watt.
Last Updated: 14/03/09 8:05pm
As I've said all along, this is an exciting match-up - and one Amir Khan can win.
Sooner or later, someone, somewhere is going to be in the right place to beat Marco Antonio Barrera, so it might as well be him. He certainly doesn't want to be fighting him after someone has already beaten the Mexican.
I have liked this since it was made, simply because Khan has all the advantages. He is younger, faster, bigger, stronger and he is a fully-blown lightweight. If I could be 100 per cent confident in his chin, I would back the lad all day.
But that's the one problem, that's the one nagging doubt with Amir Khan - and always will be.
I hope he has learned from that Breidis Prescott defeat under Freddie Roach, because he didn't learn from being knocked over by Willie Limond, because he got knocked over by Michael Gomez and didn't learn from that. And people are wrong to dismiss Barrera's punching power as well.
Yes, he hasn't knocked anyone decent out in a few years, but look who the guy has been fighting. You don't knock out Manny Pacquiao, Juan Manuel Marquez, Rocky Juarez or Erik Morales - no matter how good you are.
Obviously he is nowhere near as good as he used to be, but he is still top class, still a dangerous opponent and will punish Amir if he lets him. Barrera knows how to deliver punches, don't worry about that.
It's all very well saying Khan is fit and strong enough to box around him for 12 rounds, but you are going to get hit on the chin by Marco Antonio Barrera at least once - and it is how he deals with that that will decide this fight.
You cannot teach a fighter to take a shot, but you can teach him to see it coming and you can teach him to keep his chin out of the way.
In the old days, they would stick you on the punchbag with the sponge tucked under your chin and if it fell out, that was it, your chin was out too far.
I'm pretty sure Freddie Roach hasn't been doing that, but I am also pretty sure there isn't a better man in the business for Khan to be working under.
There is no other trainer who could've turned Manny Pacquiao from the left-hand-happy, crude, southpaw that he was to the boxer he is now. And Freddie does it without a hint of ego - unlike some trainers we could mention.
To him, the fighter is the star - and Khan has long been a star in the making. He has always been big box office, has always generated money and that is probably why people have not perhaps taken to him.
You do feel some sympathy for him, but he has to realise that he is getting good money, he is topping the bill when he hasn't even won a world title.
I do agree people took a liberty with the way they reacted after he got beaten by Prescott. If he had been knocked out that quick by a guy who couldn't hit, then fair enough.
The trouble for Amir was he was decked as an amatuer, decked early on as a pro and people were waiting for it to happen again - as I am sure people will be on Saturday night.
But if he wins this, that won't matter. He will be fighting for a world title even as vulnerable as he is.
I actually don't think losing would be a disaster either, providing he is not embarrassed like Naseem Hamed was by Barrera, or blown away like he was against Prescott.
Lose and there really is nowhere left to go. You are talking about, with all due respect, the Jon Thaxton's of the world - and that would mean a failure in terms of the promise and the hype that has always followed him from day one.
But if he beats Barrera, where else can he go other than for the very pinnacle of a lightweight division packed with names?
I have said all along he can win this and Roach is perhaps the only trainer that can make a difference.
But you can stare at gameplans and blueprints until you're blue in the face, it is Amir that has to go out and fight the right fight. He has to keep this at long range, simply because that suits his physical advantages better.
And he has to be fast, but not too fast. We all know he punches fast and that is another huge plus for him in this fight, but I hope Freddie has got him slowing down.
It's one thing hitting with speed, but he doesn't have to charge around the ring, leaping in. That's what cost him against Prescott and that's what Barrera will be hoping for.
Barrera will want the opposite from this fight. He does not want the younger, faster, fitter man buzzing about him.
He will want to draw him in close, fight on the inside and turn this into a battle. He does possess the one thing even Freddie Roach can't teach Amir - experience.
But I still think the time could be right for Amir Khan, I really do. If he can stay at range and not get drawn in he can take the scalp of one of the modern-day greats.
And if he can take what power Barrera has as a 35-year-old moving up to lightweight after 72 fights, then he could bring a fabulous career to an end - and dispel a few doubts about his own.