Khan, headbutt cut save British boxing in Manchester

71313406a57843155c41d4070cad05e5-getty-84488043rm022_amir_khan_v_m_medium The Sky Sports commentators remarked after Amir Khan's win over Marco Antonio Barrera, "You can't take the shine off of this win."

I respectfully disagree.

Do not get me wrong. Amir Khan was a physical mismatch for Marco Antonio Barrera and he dominated all five rounds of action. He absolutely manhandled the veteran Mexican. But there are some asterisks, and those that don't see them are, in my view, a bit blind to the obvious.

First and foremost, Barrera was stopped on a cut in the fifth round. It was a horrible, awful gash on his hairline, which sent blood pouring endlessly into his left eye.

The problem I have is the cut was awful and stop-worthy when it first opened. In the first round. Doesn't it seem a bit convenient that the fight went until the fifth round before being stopped, on the second doctor inspection? Because of that, it's a technical decision win for Khan. In all candor, the fight should've been stopped earlier and called a no contest.

I am not disputing that Khan was absolutely the better fighter. He was outstanding offensively as always, and only once and very briefly did Barrera even sting Khan, who seemed to celebrate every time he managed to stay on his feet from a clean shot.

Khan would've beaten Barrera without the cut, I have almost zero doubt about that. It would've taken a home run shot from the legend that I don't think he had in him tonight. But Khan got a win that probably should've been a no-contest, and that's a fact.

Talking up this win as if it acquits Khan's career prospects is foolish, because when he faces a guy his own size that isn't shot, it might be a different story again. That said, Khan looked better defensively, and by that I mean he mostly used his offense to keep his defense viable. He's never giong to be a Winky Wright or an Arthur Abraham, but he kept his hands up and stayed defensively aware when he wasn't attacking Barrera. It was obvious improvement, and a good sign.

I like Amir Khan. I'm not saying he "stole" a win. But hyping this up to be a huge, huge deal is just too much. It's a good win, and he looked very good in the ring. He was way too much for Barrera, but he was the bigger man, the stronger man, the faster man, and the younger man. Youth doesn't always play into a fight, but this is a 35-year old Barrera with years of wars under his belt. It's been two years since he's looked good in a fight. 135 is much too high a weight for him, too.

But thank goodness for the Brits that Khan won, because the rest of the night was not so hot. Enzo Maccarinelli (29-3, 22 KO) was crushed by a monstrous right hand from Ola Afolabi (14-1-3, 6 KO), which knocked him out in the ninth round. The awkward, slick Afolabi wore Maccarinelli out by laying on him and grinding his energy down enough to get him downright exhausted. He then blasted away with one big shot. Afolabi also hurt Macca in the third round.

In the other main card fight, Brit Nicky Cook (29-2, 16 KO) lost his WBO 130-pound title by fourth round TKO to unbeaten Puerto Rican Roman "Rocky" Martinez (22-0-1, 13 KO). Cook controlled the opening three rounds with relative ease, then was stunned with a left hook and a left uppercut that put him down in the fourth. Cook fought on, but was drilled down with another left hook and the fight was stopped.

The British PPV audience didn't see the first two Integrated Sports PPV fights live, but did see Matthew Hall take Bradley Pryce's Commonwealth junior middleweight title by stunning second round beatdown. Hall (22-1, 15 KO) knocked down Pryce (27-7, 17 KO) three times before it was finally stopped. In the second televised bout, Craig Lyon (5-0, 2 KO) won a four-round decision over debuting Anwar Alfadwi, who wore some sort of a Tarzan/grass skirt outfit.

It was, to say the least, a night I didn't expect. I took Barrera, and I'll admit to having been way wrong. I thought the fight could go two ways; it went the one I bet against, and how. Afolabi I thought would get overwhelmed and his cuteness wouldn't serve him against hard-punching Maccarinelli; he's better defensively and tougher-chinned than I thought. I thought Cook would outbox Martinez. He did for three rounds, and then oops!

An entertaining card, especially for $24.95. Despite my reservations with declaring Khan "back!!!!!" I don't at all regret buying the show. Good stuff overall, and this is the best Khan has looked to date. I still like the guy, but the questions about his chin are not gone.

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