Not A MERE CON - Amir Khan (Boxing Notes on the Fight)
By Steve Kim, MaxBoxing (Dec 12, 2011) Doghouse Boxing
Amir Khan
On Saturday night, Lamont Peterson captured the WBA and IBF versions of the junior welterweight titles by dethroning Amir “King” Khan in a thrilling back-and-forth battle at the D.C. Convention Center in the nation’s capital. It was interesting to hear HBO's Max Kellerman state that Khan agreed to face Peterson in his hometown out of some adventurous “take-on-all-comers” spirit when, in reality, the reason why this fight took place in Washington D.C. is that Khan needed the host hotel (the Mandalay Bay) to coax its players with free tickets and rooms to attend his last two Las Vegas outings against Marcos Maidana and Zab Judah. That and the fact they probably underestimated the threat Peterson was (I still can't believe he was such a heavy ‘dog coming in). That said, Golden Boy Promotions put this card- also featuring heavyweight local Seth Mitchell- where it belonged. If this fight was going to be staged in the United States, then Peterson’s hometown was the only place that would draw the numbers it did (approximately 9,000).
I've believed for awhile that Khan's invasion of the States was a bit premature. Unlike his predecessors like Naseem Hamed, Ricky Hatton and Joe Calzaghe, he didn't allow Frank Warren to fully build him into bona fide attraction in England. Therefore, when Khan fights in the States, a horde of fans doesn’t follow him. He rolled the dice this weekend and came up snake-eyes. Honestly, being in fights of this nature don't really hurt his standing all that much. For two straight Decembers, we have seen him involved in “Fight of the Year”-type contests. There is always a market for that in boxing (on any continent).
For now, all this talk of Amir Khan facing Floyd Mayweather can be shelved (and it was ridiculously premature to begin with). Khan is what he is, a physically talented boxer who still fights like an amateur, still has some technical flaws (such as over-striding when he punches) and is impotent on the inside where he was mugged by Peterson. His fans claim Peterson was leading with his head. The rest of the boxing world calls it “in-fighting.” Bottom line, when you attack the body, your head will be in close proximity to your opponent’s. All night, Khan just kept looking at referee Joe Cooper (more on him later) for help instead of throwing uppercuts in self-defense.
This was a close fight. I think both men made a strong case for winning it but while Khan threw a lot of flashy, fast combinations, you can make an argument that the harder, cleaner, more professional punches (especially to the body) were landed by Peterson.

Like most everyone else, I found Joe Cooper as Peterson-Khan’s third man to have been a rather dubious choice, given the magnitude of the event in D.C. (which hadn't had a major fight in town in years). And while Cooper may have gone with the letter of the law in penalizing Khan twice for pushing off on Peterson, I just question if both deductions were really warranted in a fight of that magnitude. In my opinion, I don't think Peterson was knocked down in the first. Overall, I found Cooper to be quite intrusive and his ring mechanics poor (he seemed to get in the way an awful lot).
While the concept of hometown-themed fights is sound and proven to be successful, when the perception (or perhaps the reality) is that the visiting fighters will get jobbed by the officials, it makes these types of events more difficult to secure.
While this promotion was a commercial success and everyone I spoke to who attended told me they loved the atmosphere, the actual staging of this card left a lot to be desired. This is just one correspondence I got from someone who attended Peterson-Khan this weekend:
As a DC resident and a hardcore boxing fan, I was very excited to see that championship-level boxing was coming to my hometown for the first time in many years. In fact, I chose not to attend Cotto-Margarito II in New York last week, specifically because I felt it was more important to put my money towards the local show in a city that doesn't get big fights on a regular basis. My hope was that if DC-area boxing fans showed up in strong numbers, DC would be seem by promoters as a legit candidate for more big fights in the near future. I was impressed that Golden Boy took the initiative to stage the fight in DC instead of taking the often-uninspired approach of dumping fights in the standard casino venues in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Connecticut, etc. And Golden Boy was rewarded for their decision, because the Convention Center was packed last night with true boxing fans. Just by listening to the conversations that people were having, it was obvious that many of the 9,000+ paying customers were loyal boxing fans who knew what they were talking about. When you hear fans in the crowd talking about Peterson's strategy against Bradley, or Khan's performance against McCloskey, you know it's a knowledgeable boxing crowd and not a bunch of people just looking to be seen on a Saturday night. The arena was packed well before the HBO telecast began.
However, while it was great for Golden Boy and HBO to bring this fight to DC, their actual running of the event was far from fan-friendly. On the day tickets went on sale, certain mid-level seating sections were mysteriously unavailable online, and a seating map was nowhere to be found. Then, as you've already heard by now, when the crowd filed in last night, many were surprised to see that all 9,000+ seats were laid out on a flat convention hall floor. This resulted in the vast majority of the fans (including myself, the owner of a $50 seat) with little-to-no ability to see the ring. "Watching" the fight meant staring at a TV screen suspended above the ring. To add insult to injury, when my friend and I went to purchase a beer before the Mitchell-Ibragimov fight at a concession stand on the convention hall floor, we were told that beer/liquor sales were being cut off, because "HBO is about to turn its cameras on, and they don't want to see people in the background purchasing alcohol." We tried a second concession stand and got the same answer. I have no idea if this company-line excuse was HBO's fault, Golden Boy's, or the venue's, but it's ridiculous nonetheless. It's one thing to be forced to watch a fight on a TV screen because the ticket you purchased has no sight lines, but it's even worse when you're told you can't even enjoy a cold beverage while doing so. I doubt the average HBO Boxing viewer at 11:30 pm on a Saturday night is going to be offended by the sight of someone purchasing a drink in the background of a camera shot. And after re-watching the fight on DVR at home, not once did the cameras veer anywhere remotely in the direction of the area where these alcohol sales would have been occurring.
Part of the allure of attending a big fight in a non-casino venue is the idea that you can enjoy a fight in-person without having to spend an arm and a leg to do so. Yet last night, the only way to buy yourself an actual view of the ring was to spend $150 or more for the first several rows of seats. The average paying customer, despite being in the arena, was "shut out" from the event from a true viewing perspective. So while staging the fight in DC seemed to be a rare occurrence where the average boxing fan would be valued, the handling of the event ended up being business as usual.
Washington DC
Twitter: @bpgriffith

Brian, thanks for the feedback. It's important that paying customers like you are heard. I hope the powers that be read this and take it to heart. But that part about HBO and the beer embargo had me laughing. That seems like something they just made up on the fly as the kegs were are empty. I mean, really, the HBO audience can't bear the sight of patrons getting themselves a Budweiser, that somehow, that's a visual that simply can't be seen on the network?

Uh, have you seen this season of “Boardwalk Empire”?

But seriously, let's hope these are just rookie mistakes and as Peterson and other future D.C. standouts headline cards in your neighborhood, let’s also hope these issues become a thing of the past.

In other words, make sure the Verizon Center is reserved.


Haven't seen it yet but big win for Brian Viloria versus Giovani Segura this weekend in the Philippines. Love to see Viloria face Roman Gonzalez next year...Seth Mitchell has a made a lot of progress but I think there is still a ways to go before proclaiming him the “Great American Hope”...So I guess the David Lemieux bandwagon is completely empty?...If you didn't notice, the other Donaire, Glenn, made his return to the ring this Friday night, stopping Alex Sanchez on Telemundo...Tebow Time is a lot like an episode of “Three's Company,” so bad yet so good and even though you know the ending, you just have to watch regardless...Can you believe a QB from Baylor won the Heisman Trophy?...I know the Packers are a machine but losing Greg Jennings would be huge...Based on the injuries they suffered, I think Gary Kubiak has done a great job in guiding the Texans this season...“The Big Bang Theory” remains a top-notch show...OK, will the Lakers make some trades or not? I'm getting restless”...

Read Part One of this Article:
Peterson and Hunter Take Home Their Lombardi Trophy Steve Kim
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