Andriy Kotelnik's caginess and smarts proved no match for the overwhelming handspeed and improved discipline of Amir Khan, allowing Khan to win the WBA junior welterweight title by landslide decision at a packed M.E.N. Arena in Manchester.
Khan (21-1, 15 KO) used a ton of movement, a lot of jabs, and some rather pitty-patty punching, to be honest, to keep Kotelnik (31-3-1, 13 KO) from ever getting untracked in the fight. It was easy to score, fairly easy to watch, and while the shift in style takes away some of Khan's more exciting elements, they also clearly make him a fighter better-designed to survive against top opponents. He only left his chin exposed a few times, and though Kotelnik hit him occasionally, he doesn't have one-punch power by any stretch and only seemed to buzz Khan one time.
I'm not trying to downgrade Khan's win at all. He clearly outboxed and outsmarted a really good fighter today, and Freddie Roach has certainly made him a better fighter already. It's clear as day. Roach deserves a lot of credit for what he's done already with Khan, whose physical gifts make him a great "reclamation project." And he dominated Kotelnik for the most part.
But he also never put a single dent in Kotelnik, and his style compared more to that of Paulie Malignaggi than a guy who has real power thanks to his incredible handspeed. This is the road he must travel, though. Everyone in the world knows about his dodgy chin, including Khan himself, no matter how much you hear that he sticks it out there in sparring to prove to other fighters it's not so bad. His punch resistance is terrible for a guy as good as him, and to make his bones in this sport, he's going to have to play keepaway.
With his speed, the stamina he showed in this fight, and his ability to make guys miss and keep them off of him with a long, piston-like jab (even if it's not landing much), he could have a renewed, yet different bright future.
Congratulations to Amir Khan on winning his first world title, and thanks to those that joined us for the round-by-round.