Amir Khan's comeback a clear success but he'll have to step up at world level, says Wayne McCullough
Wayne McCullough says the jury's still out on whether Amir Khan can compete at world level.
Last Updated: 27/12/12 9:37am
Khan needed a win badly, so blown up lightweight Carlos Molina was chosen for his return.
Molina was unbeaten in 18 fights; moreover he's only 27 years of age but crucially he had not been fighting at Khan's level. His knockout percentage was also low with only seven to his credit. On paper it looked a safe piece of match-making for Khan's comeback fight - but in boxing anything can happen.
The Sports Arena in Los Angeles was the venue for the vacant WBC 'Silver' belt. Most of the fans were on Molina's side as he is of Mexican descent and Los Angeles has a big Hispanic community. Unsurprisingly, the crowd booed Khan as he made his way to the ring.
Khan got off to a great start in the first four rounds with his superior hand speed and foot work. He landed left jabs on Molina's head and clean left hooks to his body. Molina got cut on his left eye early in the fight and it was bleeding badly by the fourth.
Khan was getting away with pushing Molina's head down and when he kept his distance and used his long jab, Molina could not get near him. He did get close enough in the sixth round to hit Khan on the head with left hooks but they were his only success so far in the fight.
As the fight progressed it was clear to see why Molina had been chosen as Khan's opponent. He was physically much smaller, had no power at all and couldn't adapt to change things up even though he was losing every round. Khan's style had not changed much after switching trainers. He had his chin up and his hands low. He moved around a lot throwing lots of left jabs but he didn't bounce as much as he used to. He was good at long range jabbing and moving and made Molina look ordinary.
By the ninth round it looked like Molina was ready to give up because of the frustration of not being able to land anything of significance. In the 10th round Khan was doing what he had to do, boxing and moving, peppering Molina's face with punches. After this round, Molina's corner stopped the fight.
Khan got back in the winning column against the right opponent but it will be a lot harder for him at world level so let's hope he can compete there when he steps up.
Also on the card was former interim junior middleweight champion Alfredo Angulo.
He had a tougher than expected night as he was extended the full 10 rounds by Jorge Silva. It was supposed to be an early night for Angulo but instead Silva took everything he threw and came back to hurt Angulo with good left hooks to the chin.
Angulo went on to win on all three cards with scores of 97-93 but it could have been closer or even a draw.
Earlier in the day in the same ring but on a different TV network, IBF bantamweight champion Leo Santa Cruz had a tough time defending his belt by going the distance with Alberta Guevara. Cruz attacked throughout the fight landing hard body shots and rights to Guevara but he took a lot of shots in return too.
It was a non-stop fast paced action packed fight with Cruz pulling out a hard fought win with scores of 116-112, 118-110 and 119-109 although in fairness it should have been more like 115-113.