Words: Tommy Barber – London
Photos: Gene Blevins/Hogan Photos
Ahead of former WBA/IBF super lightweight world champion Amir Khan‘s fifth fight on American canvas, the 25-year-old dubbed King was subjected to a dissident’s protest as Angel Garcia, the father of his July 14 opponent Danny Garcia, brandished him “over-rated“. Garcia recently edged ring legend Erik Morales to claim the vacant WBC championship at 140lbs and makes the first defence of the belt against Amir at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.
On a night that Golden Boy Promotions founder Oscar de la Hoya believes will “be exciting” and in a match-up that Freddie Roach regards to be “the best fighting the best”, Khan (26-2-0, 18ko) is set to participate in his eighth successive world title bout but does so against an undefeated boxer. Khan, though, regards Garcia (23-0-0, 14ko) to be the one who should be experiencing fear.
“I have seen him fight and he has a dangerous style,” said Khan of his opponent, who has already defeated one fighter from Britain; Ashley Theophane at Don Haskins Convention Center in El Paso, Texas, a little over two years ago. “He is tough,” Khan continued, “but he has never faced anyone like me. I promise this is going to be a good fight… a legendary fight.”
Both fighters could be highly motivated but for alternative reasons. Khan, for instance, is coming off a loss – to Lamont Peterson, whom he relinquished his brace of world titles to in Washington in a 12-round fight not short of controversy in 2011. The last time Khan fought having just been beaten was in 2008, when he demolished Oisin Fagan inside two rounds.
Furthermore, Khan was due to box Peterson in a rematch, but the bout was called off when the latter failed a drug test due to testosterone pellets that were later found to have been inserted inside the armpit as early as the build-up to their first match-up. The disruption to Khan’s fighting schedule may have provided the 2004 Olympic silver medalist with an appetite for destruction.
Meanwhile, the 24-year-old from Philadelphia, Garcia, is slowly leapfrogging significant fighters in the world ranks and is determined to improve with every in-ring appearance he makes. Garcia’s last three opponents include Nate Campbell, Kendall Holt and Morales, all of whom he defeated via points decisions and he is banking on adding Khan’s name to his resume: “I bring blood, sweat and tears. You haven’t seen the best of Danny Garcia.”
Any respect shown proved to be exclusive to the boxers as Garcia’s father, Angel, angered Amir by stating that he “is an overrated fighter”. Khan swiftly riposted: “When I beat your son, am I still going to be overrated? Maybe it’s Danny who is the one who is overrated.”
Danny even acknowledged that he will have to be on top of his game if he is to return to the East Coast with the W on his record, as he labelled Khan “a great fighter”. He added: “When you put two great fighters together, you have to fight your best to get the win. This is a big fight, but every fight is a big fight for me.”