By Paul Upham: Among a grouping of high quality battles, Amir Khan vs. Marcos Maidana has been selected as SecondsOut’s Fight of the Year for 2010. The rugged twelve round match for the WBA super lightweight boxing world title was held on December 11 at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, USA.
24 year-old Brit Amir Khan 24-1 (17) continued to rebuild his international reputation in defending his WBA world title against the 27 year-old Argentine Marcos Maidana 29-2 (27) who entered the ring with a proven knockout punch record.
The Englishman scored a knockdown in the first round and widely out-boxed the Argentinean through the first half of the contest. Maidana carved out openings in the sixth and seventh, however, and almost had Khan finished in the tenth and 12th rounds, but ultimately failed to put his man away when gilt-edged opportunities arose.
The dynamic of the contest was chalked on the board from the outset when Khan attempted to touch gloves at the opening bell and almost ate a left hook for his gesture. Maidana, clearly not here to make friends, immediately went on the offensive and tagged the Englishman with a pair of right hands early on. Khan took both well and stung his man with a right uppercut shortly thereafter and kept his opponent honest with a terrific jab as the contest settled down.
Khan’s greater hand speed and movement was too much for the challenger and, with 20 seconds remaining, a stunning two-punch combination to the body sent Maidana to the deck. The Argentinean narrowly beat the count but was brutalized by Khan for the remaining few seconds to cap off a massively impressive opening three minutes for the champion.
The one-sided mismatch continued in the second with Khan scoring heavily with stunningly quick combinations. A moment of sloppiness in the third, however, allowed a game and pressing Maidana to connect with a pair of hard right hands. The challenger gained confidence from that moment and enjoyed success throughout the round as Khan seemed to tighten up a little.
Khan loosened up again in the fourth and built a solid lead in the opening two minutes before Maidana tightened things in the final minute with a typically gravel-like performance – clocking Khan with a tremendous combination in the final minute.
Maidana was penalized a point in the fifth for using his elbow (which missed Khan and hit referee Joe Cortez) – a further handicap to his chances after seemingly losing a majority of the contest on merit thus far – including the fifth.
Still, though, Maidana was making Khan work for every point and was digging deeper as the fight progressed into the later rounds. The challenger refused to let up and bulldozed his way through the Englishman’s punches in the sixth and seventh (his best round of the fight) to connect with hard right hands to the head and numerous uppercuts on the inside.
Khan rebounded beautifully in the eighth and used terrific timing and accuracy to punish Maidana as he lunged forward throughout the round. He continued to baffle the hard pressing challenger in the ninth – moving well, displaying his sizzling boxing skill and scoring with fast combinations against a less effective Maidana to stretch his lead going into the final three rounds.
Indeed everything was going swimmingly for the young Englishman who had displayed skill, grit, and ring smarts in abundance thus far. Then, halfway into the tenth round, a huge right hand staggered Khan and gave Maidana his chance. Out on his feet, Khan struggled to hold on and Maidana rained down hell on him for the remainder of the round.
Amazingly, Khan refused to go down, or even hold on, and he walked back to his corner on jellied legs after suffering a 90 second-long beating by one of the most powerful punchers in boxing.
With blood streaming from his nose and a tiring but still aggressive opponent coming at him in the eleventh, Khan reached down and hurt his man with a pair of right hands and steadied what seemed to be a sinking ship with sporadic combinations that stopped Maidana from launching the all-out assault that he needed to turn the fight.
Maidana again wounded Khan in the final round in one last attempt to pull off an amazing victory but, in the final stages, the champion found the energy to produce a series of stunning combination punching to create breathing room until the final bell came – cementing a hard fought victory.
Judges scored the fight unanimously for Amir Khan, Jerry Roth 114-111, C.J. Ross 114-111 and Glenn Trowbridge 113-112. SecondsOut reporter
Michael Norby observed on the night, “Amir Khan produced an initially skillful and then deeply brave performance on Saturday night to overcome a determined and powerful challenge from hard-hitting Marcos Maidana.”
There were other worthy contenders for this 2010 SecondsOut Award. These included Humberto Soto’s twelve round split decision points win over Urbano Antillon in Anaheim, California. Mikkel Kessler’s regaining of the WBC world title as part of the Super Six super middleweight tournament against Carl Froch was impressive. Antonio Escalante’s ten round points win over Miguel Roman gets a mention, along with the furious punching display put on by Joseph Agbeko and Yonnhy Perez in their rematch.
But in the final summary, after considering all of the contenders, there was only one possible outcome. Khan-Maidana was a worthy victor in the Fight of the Year voting for 2010.
WINNER: Amir Khan vs. Marcus Maidana
Previous SecondsOut.com Fight of the Year Awards
2009: Juan Manual Lopez vs. Rogers Mtagwa
2008: Israel Vazquez vs. Rafael Marquez III
2007: Michael Katsidis vs. Graham Earl
2006: Jamie Moore vs. Matthew Macklin
2005: Diego Corrales vs. Jose Castillo
2004: Marco Antonio Barrera vs. Erik Morales III
2003: Lennox Lewis vs. Vitali Klitschko
2002: Micky Ward vs. Arturo Gatti I
2001: Julio Cesar Gonzalez vs. Julian Letterlough
2000: Erik Morales vs. Marco Antonio Barrera I
December 31, 2010