Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 23 May 2019

Amir Khan must confront reality of loss to Terence Crawford before deciding future

The British boxer's next bout may have to be against Kell Brook after his attempt to win the WBO welterweight title ended in failure

Amir Khan insisted that he would not retire after his attempt to win the WBO welterweight title from Terence Crawford ended in failure. All boxers want to bow out on their own terms and Khan will not want his career to end like this.

Khan was pulled out by his corner 47 seconds into the sixth round at Madison Square Garden, after Virgil Hunter, Khan’s trainer, decided he was not able to continue after being caught by an accidental low blow.

The punch certainly looked painful, but from the moment that Khan turned up at the post-fight press conference, he was facing accusations that he quit.

“I saw Amir’s face change and he was shaking his head and I was getting disappointed because he was looking for a way out,” Crawford said.

“Him and Virgil were having a conversation, I didn’t know what it was about, but Amir just kept shaking his head and I was like ‘oh man, he’s about to quit’. I was right. It is not the way I wanted to finish the fight.

“Virgil is there to look after his fighter and he felt his fighter didn’t want to fight no more, so he stopped the fight.”

According to the rules, Khan could have had up to five minutes to recover, but when David Fields, the referee, began to press him to continue, panic seemed to set in.

The accusations of quitting seemed to baffle Khan. “I would never quit, I would rather be knocked out,” he said. “I am not a quitter.”

In the build-up to this fight there had seemed to be little recognition by Khan of the advanced stage of his career. Khan said he had felt as good as ever, but opportunities are not endless.

He had hoped that even a defeat could lead to a shot at one of the other world titles, but such a fight just got a much harder sell. If Khan wants to box again, the biggest fight he could get right now would be against Kell Brook, his longtime British rival.

Brook, who Khan has been stringing along for years, was in New York, keeping an eye on his rival, even getting his phone out to film proceedings as Khan got on the scales at Friday’s weigh-in.

He had been due to box at Madison Square Garden on the undercard to Anthony Joshua on June 1, but the motivation for a simple tick-over bout is not there.

The former IBF welterweight champion said he was interested in Crawford more than Khan, but as Brook has not won a bout at welterweight in more than three years, it is difficult to see how he would feature in Crawford’s plans.

A Khan-Brook bout has always appealed more to the Yorkshireman than to Khan and while it is not the moneyspinner it once would have been, pride would be a motivating factor.

The pair seldom miss a chance to knock each other and Brook is likely to put the boot in after the odd nature of the defeat. Indeed, it would probably be better for him if Khan stays off social media altogether.

Boxing can be a cruel sport and Khan, who has had a reputation in the past of being too brave, can expect some abuse.

Before he makes a decision on his future, Khan will want to analyse this performance. He failed to win more then one round on the scorecards, as Crawford seized control with a first-round knockdown. The Englishman’s good moments after that were fleeting. He was outboxed and outpunched.

“Amir didn’t take the type of beating that says he should retire,” Hunter said. “He showed he could move - his legs aren’t gone - but he fought a hell of a champion tonight. I will be honest with him when I think it’s time to retire.”

While Crawford, already a three-weight world champion, will be aiming to unify the welterweight world title, the way ahead for Khan is far less clear.

Khan has often divided opinions, some getting turned off by his supposedly flashy personality. As a high-profile British Muslim, though, he has never shied from taking a stand.

He made his debut nine days after the 7/7 bombings in London in 2005 and carried a Union Jack in the ring that night with London written across is.

The time, effort and money he puts into charity work should also not be under-estimated – from earthquake relief in Pakistan to flood relief in Carlisle, from helping to build an orphanage in the Gambia to getting aid to refugees in Greece.

Few British boxers have had the impact he has had in the United States. He made his US debut at the Garden’s theatre in 2010 and this was his eleventh bout there. The only time he did not top the bill was when he was chief support to Floyd Mayweather.

He was the lone British boxer at the Athens Olympics, but because of the investment by UK Sport that accompanied his success, a huge number of boxers have benefitted, including gold medal-winners James DeGale, Luke Campbell, Nicola Adams and Anthony Joshua.

“I wanted to fight the best and win as many titles as possible,” he said. “I want to spend time with family and see. I am 32 so I think I have more in me. I love the sport like I always have.”

Updated: April 21, 2019 01:03 PM

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