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Boxing Comment Once again, Khan rolls the dice

IF THERE actually turns out to be something in this reincarnation malarkey, Amir Khan is surely destined to come back as high-stakes gambler, plying his trade in the casinos of Vegas and Monte Carlo.

And when he does, he’ll be that rare sort whose roulette table is packed with spectators, tantalised at his reckless disregard for the consequences of losing, up to and including a willingness to bet everything, including the house, on that one last turn of the wheel.

Tonight, Khan will attempt the boxing equivalent of betting everything on one more turn of the roulette wheel when he steps into the ring to challenge WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Crawford currently vies with Lomachenko, Errol Spence and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in the pound-for-pound champion stakes.

The 31-year-old southpaw from Omaha, Nebraska, is no joke, evidenced in a record of 34 wins and zero losses with 25 of those wins coming by way of KO.

I still recall being ringside in Glasgow back in 2014 when Crawford schooled Ricky Burns over the distance. In fact he was so dominant the Scot hardly won an exchange, never mind a round.

Crawford is fast, elusive and carries venom in his hands. It is no wonder, and entirely justifiable, that he and his team feel mightily confident about dispatching Bolton’s Khan before moving on to quite possibly a huge p4p clash against the aforesaid Spence.

As for Khan, the veteran campaigner is long overdue the kind of respect and tributes commensurate with the courage, excitement and resilience that have exemplified his career since turning pro after the 2004 Athens Olympics, where he came away with a silver medal.

A proud Muslim of Pakistani heritage, Khan has been a trailblazer for multicultural Britain and thus a thorn in the side of bigots and Islamophobes everywhere.

Throughout, he has carried himself with dignity and pride of a fighter whose speed, aggression and vulnerabilities have made him one of the most exciting practitioners of the sweet science of his generation. 

The way his clock was cleaned by Canelo with a monster of a right hand when they met in 2016 remains one of the more gruesome KOs you will see.

In coming back from it, Khan proved that words of the song could have been written with him in mind: “I get knocked down but I get up again, you’re never gonna keep me down.”

He and his wily coach, Virgil Hunter — now back in his corner after an extended break due to serious illness — will be hoping that he pulls something out of the bag and comes away with not just the most notable victory among the many he’s enjoyed, but also the kind of legacy that has Hall of Fame stamped all over it.

Of those watching Khan attempt to confound the odds, none will do so with more interest than Kell Brook. He will do so in the manner of a jilted bridegroom watching his bride’s marriage to another.

Brook has done everything bar kidnap Khan in his efforts to get him to face him in a boxing ring. The prospects of him succeeding will be enhanced by a convincing Crawford victory.

Whatever you do tonight, don’t blink.


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