No way back
Wayne McCullough doubts whether Amir Khan and Ricky Hatton can return to world level again.
Last Updated: 10/10/12 9:00am
Amir Khan and Ricky Hatton both suffered devastating knockout losses in their last fights - but now both are hoping to redeem themselves and work their way back up to world class level.
Hatton retired after his last fight when he was outclassed and knocked out in the second round by Manny Pacquiao. Khan got knocked out in the fourth round by Danny Garcia this past July.
There was no shame in Hatton's loss to one of the top pound for pound fighters in the world but Khan got dismantled by a fighter who was supposed to be a warm up, low risk fight on his route to Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Khan has since left his trainer Freddie Roach to work with Andrew Ward's coach Virgil Hunter. Khan has never settled down with a trainer for long during his career. He was unbeaten at 18-0 when he left Oliver Harrison in July 2008. He had just fought Michael Gomez the month prior and got rocked during the fight, so his team decided to switch coaches.
He then fought Breidis Prescott, who stood in front of him, under the tutelage of his new coach, Jorge Rubio, and got knocked out in less than a minute. He then switched to Freddie Roach. This went well for a while with Khan becoming world champion. But then he lost controversially to Lamont Peterson in December 2011 and went on to get knocked out by Garcia.
Khan didn't like the attention, or lack of it, he was receiving from Roach, wanting more time with him in the gym. But Roach has a stable of fighters, Pacquiao being there the longest. No matter where they went to train, the Philippines or Los Angeles, Khan was there.
A trainer with several fighters will give you the attention you need coming up to your fight, but you can't expect him to be with you all day holding your hand. When I moved to the US, I had to travel a lot because Eddie Futch had a stable of fighters including Riddick Bowe, who was his Pacquiao, Mike McCallum and Montell Griffin.
I thought it was great being in camp with the heavyweight champion, watching and learning. Eddie gave me a certain amount of individual time each day in the gym. But when Khan gets knocked out it seems as though he blames the new trainer, taking no blame for his weak chin. Hunter is a good coach and has had all the success with Ward but none of these trainers can help him if he can't take a punch.
I reached out to Khan following his loss telling him I would be interested in training him. I would have taught him how to take the impact off shots which might enable him to ride the punch. Eddie taught me how to get hit by taking the power out of the punch. I did get hit by some heavy punchers, including Naseem Hamed and Erik Morales, but I was still standing at the end of the fight.
All in all, who is to blame for Khan's KO losses? Does he not listen to his coach? Are they not teaching him what he needs to know to take the impact off the shots or how to roll with the punches?
Garcia had 14 KO's on his record when he beat Khan and now his comeback opponent, who is also promoted by Golden Boy, is only a lightweight with 7 KO's out of 18 fights. This fight will prove nothing, except if Molina KO's Khan. This is supposed to be a safe comeback fight against a non-puncher so he's not expected to get knocked out.
Hatton is also returning the ring with a more than safe fight but his fans won't mind as they will fill the place no matter who he fights. Hatton is set to face Ukranian Vyacheslav Senchecko who just got KO'd by non puncher Paulie Malignaggi in the ninth round of their fight last April. He was the WBC world welterweight champion and had made three defences against nobodies. Senchecko has 21 wins by KO out of 33 fights which is a higher risk for Hatton than Khan's opponent.
In Khan's division of light welterweight, there is a list of guys he could have fought in his comeback who are at least in the top 20. I think the biggest comeback would have been a rematch with Prescott or an all British showdown with Kell Brook, but they would probably have been too much for him.
Hatton could have also faced Brook in his return to the ring. Another option would have been Kendall Holt. But instead it looks as though they are both coming back to get into the winning column even though they are telling everyone who will listen that they want to fight the best, which these opponents are not. Senchecko is not even in the top 30 and Khan's opponent hasn't broken the top 50 in the rankings.
Maybe Khan and Hatton will get it on if they come through these fights. A British showdown between two former champions who might just be better off fighting at this level, making money, conning the fans, rather than fighting at the world level - where they may never go again.