Brit Boxer Amir Khan's Career Hangs by His Chin

Coming out of the 2004 Athens Olympics British Boxing fans had found a good-looking, exciting and charismatic young star in Amir Khan.

A new kind of British hero for a modern Britain as Khan represented the new generation of South Asian Muslims who were making their cultural-impact from replacing the old fish and chips joints with curry shops to the political discourse of the nation.

In that respect many were reminded of another Olympic boxer.

In Barcelona in 1992, Oscar De La Hoya, a product of the barrio of East Los Angeles, made America fall in love with his talent, story and smile. He also became a representation of his cultural identity as he went on to have a hall-of-fame career.

Khan found much success early in his career thanks to his blazing hand-speed and slick moves. His undefeated record came crashing down in 2008 as he was scorched in a first-round knockout by Colombian slugger Breidis Prescott.

Seeing a change was needed Khan sought the tutelage of famous boxing trainer Freddie Roach of the Wild Card Gym in Hollywood, CA.

The team of Khan and Roach had an 8-0 run, including solid wins over Paulie Malignaggi, Marcos Maidana, and Zab Judah, until Khan’s controversial loss to Lamont Peterson in his hometown of Washington, DC.

Seeking to rebound from that loss in July in Las Vegas Khan instead found himself losing a technical-knockout to the young Philadelphia slugger Danny Garcia.

To remedy two consecutive defeats Khan resorted to a typical move of boxers trying to save face - firing his trainer with the implicit message that’s where the root of the problem existed.

People in boxing, however, are skeptical that this move will have any real impact as it is the perceived weak-chin (also known as a glass jaw) of Khan that is seen as the issue and not any bad advice Khan got from Roach.

The new trainer is the Oakland-based Virgil Hunter of Andre Ward fame (current Super Middleweight and Light-Heavyweight champion) and widely regarded as the second best “pound for pound” fighter in the world.

In what is perceived as a soft “comeback bout”, Khan will be taking on Carolos Molina who is 17-0-1 against limited opposition.

The bout is also seen as safe because Molina is known as a light-puncher who cannot test the perceived vulnerabilities of Khan’s chin.

For his part Molina, a heavy underdog, views the Showtime-televised fight Saturday night in Los Angeles as the opportunity of a lifetime. 

                                                                Umar Lee

Umar is a St. Louis based writer and the author of the recent Muslim crime-fiction novel Tea Party Twelver and The Muslim Brothers.