Sunday, May 31, 2015

Khan-Algieri: Should There Be A Rematch?

The storyline leading up to the Welterweight fight between former Jr. Welterweight world champions Amir Khan and Chris Algieri was one that some might argue of two fighters at a crossroads. In one corner stood Amir Khan the one time unified WBA/IBF Jr. Welterweight world champion, who has seen his career go through ups and downs. Despite suffering some setbacks however, Khan has established himself as one of the top contenders in the Welterweight division and entered into the bout with Algieri having won four straight fights.

Standing across the ring from Khan was Chris Algieri. Algieri was able to go from an undefeated contender to a world champion last year when he defeated Ruslan Provodnikov to win the WBO Jr. Welterweight world championship. Algieri however, would suffer a setback of his own as he was dominated in his attempt to move up in weight in challenging Manny Pacquiao for the WBO Welterweight world championship in November of last year.

A battle of two former world champions, one looking to continue to build momentum, the other looking to bounce back from his first defeat, culminated when Khan and Algieri met on May 29th at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. It was no surprise to this observer to see this fight being fought at a tactical pace as both fighters were able to have periods of effectiveness in the early rounds.

When it comes to tactical Boxing matches a challenge for those who score a fight where both fighters are able to be effective is to determine which fighter is able to execute their offense in a more decisive manner than his opponent. This can result in “Swing Rounds” where there can be differing opinions as to who wins a round. In this fight Amir Khan was able to get his punches off first often by throwing punches in combination. Algieri meanwhile, was able to consistently put pressure on Khan and able to periodically land solid right hands and left hooks, which were attention grabbing.

Although Khan continued to be effective in throwing and landing combinations as the fight progressed, Algieri’s consistent pressure and ability to be effective in spurts made this fight difficult to score. It became a question of Khan’s ability to throw in quantity versus Algieri’s pressure and aggression, which was often effective.

As the fight entered the late rounds it was really anyone’s fight in this observer’s eyes. It was in the late rounds however, where I feel Khan began to stand out from Algieri a little more than had been the case in the early and middle rounds. Khan’s lateral movement and ability to consistently throw combinations never really decreased as the fight progressed. Khan was able to win rounds ten and eleven by landing combinations, countering Algieri, and landing punches to Algieri’s body, in my opinion. Algieri however, seemed to get the better of the action in my eyes in the twelfth and final round based on his ability to pressure Khan and Khan seeming to let up slightly with his offense perhaps due to fatigue.

At the end of the twelve round bout it did not surprise me to see a difference in scoring even though the decision was unanimous in favor of Khan. Judge Don Ackerman scored the fight 115-113 or 7-5 in rounds, while Judges Joseph Pasquale and Benoit Rousell both scored the fight 117-111 or 9-3 in rounds. Unofficially, I scored this fight the same as Don Ackerman 115-113 for Khan.

In all truth and honesty I feel this fight could have gone either way, but in my opinion Khan’s combination punching was the difference in this fight. I can easily see an argument however, in favor of Algieri based on how effective he was able to be in spurts and his overall pressure and aggression. Several of the rounds were extremely close and as I have often said over the years when it comes to close fights, it will often boil down to what a judge prefers in their own individual criteria in how they score based on clean punching, effective aggressiveness, ring generalship, and defense. Even though two judges ultimately gave nine of twelve rounds to Khan, if you watch the fight round by round it was extremely difficult to score.

An interesting question coming out of this fight will be what is next for both fighters. Although Khan is hoping to secure a fight against Floyd Mayweather in September, this observer believes that a rematch between Khan and Algieri is warranted based on how competitive the fight was and I believe Boxing fans would want to see a rematch between the two. If a fight against Mayweather or a rematch against Algieri is not in the immediate future for Khan, a possible option could be a championship fight against IBF world champion Kell Brook, who successfully defended his title on May 30th with a sixth round stoppage of top contender Frankie Gavin.

As I stated following Brook’s victory over Jo Jo Dan earlier this year both Brook and Khan have significant followings and a fight between the two just might be the type fight that both fighters need in order to secure a potential fight against a fighter like Floyd Mayweather. Whether or not Khan does secure a fight against Mayweather, which he has been seeking for some time remains to be seen. 

In this observer’s opinion however, there are now two very intriguing fights outside of a potential clash with Mayweather that Khan should consider. Kell Brook has clearly established himself as a rising star in the sport and currently is the only world champion in the Welterweight division besides Floyd Mayweather. The other fight of course, would be a rematch against the more than deserving Chris Algieri, who despite losing his last two fights, remains a player in the Welterweight division and gave Khan all he could handle.

If a fight against Floyd Mayweather is not available to Khan for his next fight, it will be interesting to see if Khan will seek a fight against either Brook or Algieri. Although this observer believes a fight with Brook or a rematch with Algieri are the most logical options for Khan outside of a fight with Floyd Mayweather, we will have to simply wait and see who Khan will fight next.

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

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