Enjoying Amir

Not for the first time there was something for everyone in Amir Khan's return to a British ring when he fought Julio Diaz in Sheffield. Adam Norman breaks down the exciting points win and reviews the weekend action.

Last Updated: 28/04/13 3:36pm

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So, Amir Khan remains on course for another world title shot following his nail-biting victory over a former champion in Julio Diaz on Saturday night.

Khan is desperate to avenge last year's devastating loss to Danny Garcia, one that laid bare his most obvious weakness.

"The new, patient approach...was working perfectly as Khan eased through the first three sessions."
. Quotes of the week

And so it was again in Sheffield as the 26-year-old found himself on the seat of his pants early in the fight and in deep trouble again later on.

This despite looking to be in control of the contest behind a spiteful jab and lightning fast combinations that make him such a special talent.

The new, patient approach instilled by trainer Virgil Hunter - in their second fight together - was working perfectly as Khan eased through the first three sessions.

But Diaz opened up in the fourth and the shot that all Khan's opponents will look to land from now on, the left hook, detonated not once but twice to send Khan to the floor.

However, unlike against Garcia he was not badly shaken, and more pleasingly did not immediately engage in a brawl by way of machismo defiance.

Khan reverted to his boxing and the next three rounds were as impressive as the opening stanzas, Diaz unable to stay in range long enough to let the big shots go while having his face jabbed to bits at the same time.

The eighth was a better one for the American-based Mexican, one that saw Khan more eager to trade, but contrary to the TV commentary Diaz did not appear to be tiring and was building for a big finale.

The final three rounds belonged to the visitor as he continually found his target, Khan, hurt on more than one occasion looking to hold on desperately in scenes reminiscent of the Marcos Maidana battle almost two and a half years ago.

That, too, was a close call for Khan, but while he was on the verge of being stopped that night in Las Vegas he was never taken that deep by Diaz.

But it was enough to set the alarm bells ringing and for the critics to rear their heads in the immediate aftermath of another highly entertaining fight.

Was this an all-new Amir? In part, yes. But as long as he enters a boxing ring he will be vulnerable, especially against big hitters like Garcia or Lucas Matthysse, while it remains to be seen what the bigger men are capable of when he eventually and seemingly inevitably moves up to welterweight.

But that is what makes Khan such great box office appeal, and why he will probably jump the queue and walk straight back into a title fight, most likely against nemesis Garcia in December.

Contender

Over In America, Garcia outworked former Khan victim and ageing warrior Zab Judah to retain his two belts, setting him up for the winner of Lamont Peterson vs Lucas Matthysse.

Bizarrely, the Briton can be expected to be matched with the winner of that match-up. But it's worth repeating that Khan is the one who puts bums on seats.

St Helens middleweight Martin Murray once more proved he is an elite-level fighter by pushing Sergio Martinez all the way in their WBC title scrap in front of 40,000 fans in Argentina.

In what turned out to be Murray's first career loss, he put Martinez on the canvas before coming off second best in what many UK fans have ruled a 'hometown' decision.

"The older man's workrate and sheer range were impressive enough to have deserved the unanimous points decision."
. Quotes of the week

Maravilla's powers may be diminishing at 38 years of age, but he still won this fight fair and square. Murray's power shots were the more eye-catching, but the older man's workrate and sheer range were impressive enough to have deserved the unanimous points decision, despite a second knockdown that was ruled a slip.

Murray will surely come again, 18 months on from his first world title shot against Felix Sturm in which his supporters had more cause to cry 'robbery' after their WBA scrap was called a draw.

Massive domestic fights with Matthew Macklin and Darren Barker must surely be made, especially if either manages to win a portion of the world back to Britain later this year. The future is brighter than ever for the 30-year-old.

Finally, the heavyweight division is moving ever closer to churning out some new title contenders. American Deontay Wilder came to Sheffield and moved to 28-0 - all via stoppage - surely, hopefully sending Audley Harrison into honourable retirement.

Across the pond, Bermane Stiverne (23-1-1) continued a more leisurely ascent towards the summit with a hard-fought points victory over former title challenger Chris Arreola.

The winner's reward is an immediate shot at the WBC champion Vitali Klitschko. Should the veteran Ukrainian make the expected decision to quit while he's on top, Stiverne could fight for the vacant strap against the next highest contender - Tyson Fury.

Are the heavyweights finally coming back to life?

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