Writer: Stan Wenners
Date:Saturday March 21 2015
Nobody will decide Amir's future but Amir
Years ago I was in a board meeting overseen by a powerful American CEO. Throughout the meeting another guy, let’s call him Bob, kept butting in to answer questions on the CEO’s behalf.
The boss sat there patiently allowing it all to go on. Eventually, he turned to Bob and said,
”You’re being an awfully big man with my d*ck, Bob.”
I’m reminded of this story by the way the world and his wife is behaving as Amir Khan’s matchmaker at the moment.
People like to compare the sweet science to chess, what with the amount of strategy that goes into a bout – both during and before.
Remember how Mike Tyson had so many of his opponents beat before he even stepped into the ring?
Iron Mike was a huge fight and war historian. To those trying to devise strategies to beat him while they huddled together in smoky bars or hunched over word processors, Tyson would quote military theorist Carl Clausewitz:
”No campaign plan survives first contact with the enemy.”
When people – however august or well-intentioned – blithely bandy the great Amir’s name about whenever the latest flavor of the month comes out of the woodwork and issues a challenge, they should pause.
Boxing is NOT a game of chess - unless someone changed the rules of chess recently and added a bit that allows opponents to bludgeon each other to within an inch of each others' lives.
People should pause before they offer up Amir's flesh and blood body to all-comers and remember how vast a toll even the most seemingly straightforward fight can take on a body.
Every single bout diminishes every fighter, chips something away from his being; leaves him with just that little bit less to contribute to the next bout.
And, far more importantly, a little bit less to with which to contribute to his broader life - wife, kids, family, friends.
Amir Khan has been boxing competitively since he was only 11 years old. He has spent 16 or 17 years getting hit. Sometimes, often, getting hit very hard.
He fought 110 amateur fights, winning all but 9.
One of those losses came in 2004 in the ultimate challenge: the Olympic final in Athens. Khan lost to Cuban legend Mario Kindelan - a defeat he would avenge a year later in his last ever amateur contest.
Khan’s professional career took off along the steep upward trajectory that everyone expected. But despite incredible skill, the gradual chipping away that I described above eventually let through a couple of knockout punches. Two of his three professional losses ended early.
Irrespective of those blemishes, Khan remains at the very top of the British pugilistic tree.
Certainly no British contender near his division deserves to be spoken of in the same breath as Amir Khan when it comes to overall career and dues paid.
Serpentine overtures from clever promoters who have never taken a punch in their lives, and playground insults from wannabes, simply come with the territory of being a world-famous champion fighter in the 21st century.
But one result of the dues that Amir Khan has paid is his inalienable right to decide his own path, the parameters for his legacy's epitaph.
If there was an ounce of justice or common-sense in the labyrinthine carryings-on that decide who will fight whom at the top level of the fight game, Amir Khan would now be training for and focusing on the winner of #Maypac.
We all know that isn’t how things work in real life. But we can’t blame Khan for aiming there to the current exclusion of all else.
Whatever else he may or may not decide to do – for instance risking everything on a fight offering nothing other than a shortcut to the top of the mountain for some wannabe – whatever it is, it's 100% up to Amir Khan.
More than any other fighter in his and neighbouring weight divisions, the big-hearted man from Bolton has earned it.
Written by Stan Wenners.
Date:Saturday March 21 2015
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