Khan Versus Pacquiao? “TALK AND BALK?”
By Allan Cerf, Doghouse Boxing (Aug 7, 2015)
Khan Versus Pacquiao
|Years ago, young people, of which I was one, understood that he who issued a challenge and then, backed-off, was said to be guilty of “talk and balk.” As Amir Khan searches aimlessly for a fight and Manny Pacquiao and Management, reeling from his uninspired defeat to Mayweather, decide what to do next, talk has arisen that Octogenarian promoter Bob Arum wants to match Khan and Pacquiao in Dubai in 2016.
The details sound sketchy. Arum says, quote: “I just had a delegation in from Dubai trying to talk to me about a Manny Pacquaio fight sometime early next year in Dubai.” The troubles are many: Dubai ain’t booming like it once did and Arum knows just how pitiless the finances of distant, overseas fights can be. Given that the Kingdom has zero history with or affinity for, professional boxing, I think such a fight is extraordinarily unlikely. I can see- as can Arum – an enormous, modern stadium in an air-conditioned desert and not a single seat without an ass in it – and most of the seats given away. Arum, who hasn’t remotely stated the fight is likely will have, some will say, balked ‘again,’ if this fight gets kayoed.
Pakistani-British fighter Amir Khan is a mega-talented younger fighter – getting old, quick. He crowed long and loud that he had Mayweather’s number without ever really being considered as Money’s next dance partner. He is very tall for the weight, (surely 5’ 11” not 5’ 10”) moves well, is thoroughly schooled defensively and his hand-speed, over-whelming. I haven’t seen a guy this fast since - Manny Pacquaio. While obsessed with Bling, Khan has a good side – he flew immediately to Pakistan to lend support to the families after the horrifying student massacres and by all accounts, is a pleasant if arrogant, young man. The rap on Amir, as everyone knows, is that he has no chin. Given that he had a sizeable amateur career culminating in a Silver Olympic Medal and the physics of punching, it’s hard to say if the punches that have stopped 2 of his professional bouts early, were in fact, perfect specimens that would have knocked out a boulder, or whether Khan is indeed, ‘chinny.’
The middle ground seems reasonable – his chin ain’t his best asset. In Britain and elsewhere, Khan is viewed by many as the goods. A fighter who, if he stays focused every minute of every round, should beat every fighter in the world not named Mayweather and there are many, Floyd included, who think Khan is simply too big and fast a challenge for the Undefeated Champion. (However, Floyd’s doubts were probably greatly reduced given Khan’s apparent steep decline against Chris Algieri. Or was it just an off-night?)
In the USA, it’s fashionable to knock Khan as vastly overrated: a speed merchant with zero chin and without the unflinching will to win – a world class talent without world class staying power or heart. Those who know boxing know it’s absurd to question Khan’s guts. It is exactly his fighting heart, nothing more or less, which has gotten him into trouble. Former trainer Freddie Roach while embittered with Khan who left him and is as blunt as they come, confirms Khan’s tremendous fortitude.
So, poor Amir is in the horrendous position of not being Money’s final opponent while delaying until 2016 his toughest challenge – a fight with fellow Britain Kell Brook, a bout he could conceivably lose. He’s literally stuck imploring the Public to believe Floyd is scared while himself avoiding for now, Brook and in turn, lacking a big-money fight. So he sits on the shelf as Led Zeppelin would say, ‘rusting.’ Perhaps unfairly, the Bolton Flash is perceived as talking then balking.
Manny Pacquiao’s performance against Floyd Mayweather was a joke. Sure, punch-stats are bogus and Floyd landed perhaps just 22 more punches than the Filipino but at no time were Manny’s punches part of a strategy, or even a burning desire to win. He came in injured and he immediately recognized that
Floyd was as skilled as advertised and far too tall. He then settled for Teddy Atlas’s famous “Silent Contract,” he moved around and he threw some flurries. Always with the tacit understanding with Mayweather: “Just let me get through this upright and you keep your ‘O’ okay?”
Given Pacquiao’s brash pre-fight talk, as well as the unbelievable aggression and spirit which are career hallmarks…not to mention his promise to ‘break’ Floyd’s impregnable defense…given all that and the $100 asking price for PPV, what he did produce May 2, 2015 was shameful. He talked- and with zero doubt, he balked. Where he goes next and indeed should he go at all, is an open question. Regardless of how bad his unpaid income tax to the Philippines, regardless of the fact that virtually all say he is determined to spend the entirety of his fortune on charity (handouts to the needy as he sees it) when you get paid net $100 million for a fight, as he was, such problems should be over. The other issues are that Khan may just be as fast as a prime Pacquaio and - boxing’s worst-kept secret: when the 2 sparred at Roach’s Wildcard Gym during the interval both were trained by Freddie – Amir owned Manny, day in, day out. As HBO would say, Pacquaio was Khan’s, 24/7.
Fighters (2016) Scorecards:
Average of all factors: 3.62
Average of all factors: 3.41
IF we fans hear a bell ring in a glitzy Dubai stadium, Spring 2016 and IF the combatants really are Pacquaio and Khan, here is how I see the fight playing out.
Rounds 1-2. Khan dominating the too-short Pacquaio with a blinding jab and in and out movement while a confused crowd sort of cheers, on and off.
Rounds 3-4 Roach – rightfully criticized for total lack of urgency vs. Mayweather, tells Manny at the end of round 2: “Son, you’ve given away a sixth of the fight. You need to start punching.” Pacquiao himself starts darting in and out and fights on even terms until round 4 when he tags Khan with Manilla Ice – the right hook (for a leftie). Khan wobbles – but is not terribly hurt.
Rounds 5-6 Khan re-groups and clearly wins 5 with the jab and is using it to win 6 when he begins to mix in flashy, blinding combinations. Khan smiles at Pac, who smiles back, but he is losing. Huge cheers erupt – from the wealthy stars like David Beckham and Kanye West who actually paid for good seats while the locals clap and smile in embarrassment. Roach tells PacMan: “Son, the fight his half over and we’re down 2.”
Rounds 7-9 Khan, focusing like never before, continues to wing jabs and blinding combinations, hurting Pacquiao with a right which finally awakens his wrath and the pair trade some big shots, but Khan’s longer legs and huge reach advantage keep the biggest shots away – by inches. The display of speed is ridiculous – how the two even see the other’s blows is a trade secret. Gigantic Dubai insects which have crashed the fight stay well back from the flying fists. Bob Arum jumps up and down – but knows his fighter is losing. It is a tremendous display and even the locals now appear to enjoy it. Roach reminds Pac he is trying like hell – but losing.
Rounds 10-11: Khan slows the pace and focuses exclusively on the jab in round 10, picking off Manny’s charges. In 11, Khan suddenly fires an amazing 9 punch combination but on the way out is nailed by a Pacman’s dreaded, straight left. He buckles – but easily survives the round and looks relaxed in the corner. A man screams in Arabic and English that the last round is coming up.
The crowd is roaring now – but it’s mainly the out-of-town stars. Ricky Hatton, reached for quick comment, says if Amir can just stand behind the jab and avoid the incoming, he’s won the fight. Freddie Roach says: “Son, it’s our last fight together. Go out and knock him out.”
Round 12: Pacquaio charges like it’s 1999 but only for 30 seconds and then he’s spent. Khan, jabbing carefully, shakes off years of doubts, when, without warning he opens up with something like forty punches in 7 seconds, the last, a huge straight right, opens an enormous cut on the Manny’s eyelid.
Pacquaio smiles and is upright, but Freddie Roach rushes into the ring and the fight is stopped.
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