Amir Khan (34-5, 21 KOs) stopped the undersized Billy Dib (45-6, 26 KOs) this past Friday in Saudi Arabia. It was a joke of a fight in which Dib had no business being in the ring with Khan. Even more odd is the fact that just a few months ago, Khan had fought, arguably, the number one middleweight in the world in Terence Crawford (35-0, 26 KOs). These two fights were complete opposites of each other, but probably shows how Khan’s career has been like over the years, full of ups and downs.
When Amir Khan won silver in the 2004 Olympic games at the age of 17, many touted him as the next big thing. For his first 18 fights, Khan was proving just that. He was quickly becoming a sensation in his native U.K., but that all came crashing down when he faced his first major test against then-undefeated, Breidis Prescott in 2008. Khan was clipped in the first round and was visibly shaken, before getting dropped twice. The fight was waved off in the very first round.
Many were quick to call Khan “overrated” and “chinny.” However, this loss seemed to had lighten a fire under Khan and he bounced back with wins over Oisin Fangan and Mexican legend, Marco Antonio Barrera before challenging for Andreyi Kotelnik for the WBA Super Lightweight title. Khan performed brilliantly winning a unanimous decision and becoming the world champion many had predicted since his Olympic success.
Khan, now a world champion, defended his belt against Dmitriy Salita before making his U.S. debut against Paulie Malignaggi. Khan outboxed Malignaggi on route to a TKO victory. The English sensation had made his first impact on U.S. soil.
Up to this point and since his loss to Prescott, Khan had been carefully matched against skilled but light handed fighters. Despite being a world champion, many believed that Khan would avoid or get knocked out again the next time he’d face a power puncher. Khan put the critics to rest when he signed to face Argentine heavy-hitter Marcos Maidana in 2010, in one of the most anticipated fights of the year. Khan started off brilliantly, dropping Maidana in the very first round with a picture perfect body shot and seemed on route to winning an easy decision and earning the biggest win of his career. However, Maidana landed a bomb in the form of an overhand right in round 10. Khan was incredibly hurt and stumbled all over the ring. Despite being in big trouble, Khan refused to hold and fought back. Khan finished the round and the fight, and won a unanimous decision. Khan had showed a new aspect of his game: his heart.
With the huge victory over Maidana, Amir Khan was now widely considered the best 140 pounder in the world. Khan further reinforced this when he unified titles against Zab Judah in 2011, adding the IBF Super lightweight title to his trophy case.
He next faced solid contender, Lamont Peterson in a fight in which Khan was widely expected to win. After dropping Peterson early, Khan seemed to be on his way to a victory but Peterson began to fight back and stole a few rounds. The referee later ridiculously penalized Khan two points for “pushing” which massively impacted the final scorecards. Peterson , with the refs help, won a split decision handing Amir Khan his second loss.
Despite the loss, many still recognized Khan as one of the best, if not the best 140 pounder in the world. In the eyes of many, Peterson had been unjustly given the the victory. Khan’s next opponent however, left no doubt. Another super lightweight, Danny Garcia, had been making waves and had recently won the WBC super lightweight title. Khan was quickly pushed into a title fight with Garcia in order to get him another title. Nonetheless, Khan was a heavy favorite going into this fight. Garcia however had other plans as he dropped Khan in the third round with a picture perfect left hook before finishing him in the following round. Amir Khan had now suffered two losses in a row and his second knockout loss in his career.
Amir Khan’s dominance at 140 pounds had come to a screeching halt and Garcia was looked at as the new king at the weight class. Khan decided to move up to welterweight and won his early fights against the likes of Julio Diaz, Carlos Molina and veteran Luis Collazo. In 2014, Khan faced his Devon Alexander in what many viewed as a 50/50 fight. Khan seemed to return to his prime form as he put on a boxing clinic against Alexander, winning a wide decision. Khan’s move up in weight seemed to had greatly benefited him. He looked like a rejuvenated fighter. He followed his Alexander win with a victory over Chris Algieri before being offered the biggest fight of his career.
In 2016, Khan was offered a fight with Mexican superstar, Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez. He quickly accepted despite the fight requiring him to go to 155 pounds, technically the middleweight division. Khan had other options on the table but decided to fight Canelo, despite being massively undersized. He performed very well for the first five rounds, before being drilled by a Canelo overhand right that rendered him unconscious.
After the devastating loss, Khan took an extended break and returned last year, notching a quick first round knockout victory over Phil LoGreco. He followed that with a return to the welterweight division and defeated Samuel Vargas. Khan, despite the knockout losses, remained undefeated in the welterweight division and was matched up against the 147 pound king, Terence Crawford in April of this year. Khan put up a valiant effort, but Crawford’s counterpunching, aggression and over ring generalship was on full display as he dropped Khan in the first round. The fight was stopped in round 6 when Khan was deemed unable to continue.
Khan returned to the ring last friday, fighting an undersized fighter in Billy Dib, and predictably stopped him in four rounds. He was quick to call for a potential fight with the winner of Manny Pacquiao and Keith Thurman, and honestly speaking, it shouldn’t be a surprise if he got the fight.
Khan’s career has been an absolute roller coaster, winning silver in the Olympics, suffering a first round shocking loss, becoming the 140 pound king, suffering two losses in a row in fights he was the favorite to win, looking rejuvenated at welterweight, taking a fight at middleweight and being knocked unconscious, returning two years later and challenging for the welterweight crown and most recently, taking a fight against a former featherweight. Looking at how wild his career has been, would it surprise anyone if we see him challenging for another title later this year?