Despite the likes of Josh Taylor, Naoya Inoue and Deontay Wilder delivering impressive weekend performances, British people remain curious about the ’King’ Amir Khan
It’s been one hell of a boxing weekend. Deontay Wilder delivered a meme-inspiring KO to an unsuspecting Dominic Breazeale, while Naoya Inoue made unbeaten world bantamweight champion Emannuel Rodriguez resemble a helpless child as he punished and dethroned him en route to the World Boxing Super Series final.
The excitement spread to the UK, not just because Inoue chose Glasgow as the stage for his latest skilful slaughter, but because the nominal headline act Josh Taylor wrested the IBF super-lightweight belt from Ivan Baranchyk in a gripping fight which secured the Scot’s place in the 140lbs WBSS final.
Despite all that, the fastest rising search term related to a boxer in the UK today is ’Amir Khan’. Yes, the Olympic silver medallist way back in 2004 and once a unified super-lightweight champion, last seen being ruled out against Terence Crawford last month, ultimately due to a low blow, is back in the news and overshadowing events in the ring.
The reason for this renewed interest - Khan and his wife are reportedly house-hunting, shock, horror, far away from his hometown of Bolton - is scarcely important. The fact that almost 15 years after his Athens podium placement and without a top-level pro victory in the last four, Khan is still capable of engendering such curiosity is news in itself. Indeed, when I texted him this morning (I realise the arrogance of that casual aside) to tell him, Khan was himself surprised by the clamour.
Khan is, even at 32, perhaps the perfect boxer for the social media age. The right amount of arrogance to stoke self-belief and create haters, mixed with sufficient innocence and naivety to ensure he is more embraced or laughed at than genuinely disliked. Regardless of your view on the Crawford ending, Khan has already proved his heart and courage several times over, meaning he has stockpiled an ample amount of goodwill among the public at large. Whether battling back against Marcos Maidana in that hellacious 10th round, choosing to take on Canelo or Crawford against most sane counsel or revealing a fear of spiders on the I’m a Celebrity... reality show, Khan has never been afraid to bear his soul in front of a rapacious, oft-times unforgiving audience.
Sometimes he is rightly celebrated for his substantial and far-reaching charity work; others, he is, less justifiably, criticised for the publicising of said altruism. Right now he is being sensastionalised for, allegedly, attempting to ’save’ his marriage of six years.
Whatever the catalyst, us Brits seemingly cannot quench our appetite for all things Khan. Which bodes well for the lucrative continuation of his boxing career beyond the Crawford non-event. But hey Kell, I know you’re reading this, if it’s any consolation, you were being searched for too, albeit a few spaces lower on the chart. So, that’s something, right? Kell? Kell...