It was about class for five-plus rounds, and then it was about headbutts and doctors.
Amir Khan kept his win streak alive today with a six-round technical decision win over Paul McCloskey, winning on unanimous scores of 60-54. Khan (25-1, 17 KO) was largely dominating the fight with his speed being the predictable biggest factor in the bout, frustrating McCloskey (22-1, 12 KO) and taking each round. But in the fifth, after McCloskey was hurt for the first time in the fight, their heads came together and opened a pretty good gash on McCloskey's left eyebrow. The ringside physician checked on the cut and advised the referee to stop the bout. Ruled an accidental headbutt, the fight went to the cards.
It was a rabid crowd today in Manchester, seemingly more pro-McCloskey than pro-Khan, and to say they were disappointed by the way the fight ended would be an understatement. But the crowd's anger did not match that of McCloskey promoter Barry Hearn, who raged in the ring after the stoppage and before the scores were read, having to be restrained by McCloskey's corner.
This wasn't a performance that will make believers of the remaining Khan doubters, but overall he got out of the fight with a win, with little damage taken, and if that July 23 date with Timothy Bradley is indeed what Khan has lined up next, he should be ready to go for that.
As for the stoppage, it might have come a bit early. The cut was not good, to be sure, but seemed like something a cutman should have gotten a crack at -- that's what they're paid for, after all. McCloskey wasn't going to win this fight sans miracle, but giving him another round or two to try wouldn't have been the worst thing.
There's not really a whole lot to say about this truncated fight. Khan was too fast and just too good for McCloskey, as expected, but we didn't get a rousing stoppage finish or a full 12 rounds of domination. We got a finish that no matter how any fight is going, is going to be considered a letdown. It happens. So onward for Khan, and hopefully Bradley is next.
Welterweights (British Title): Lee Purdy TKO-5 Craig Watson
The stoppage came after a gorgeous, perfectly-timed straight right hand at 40 seconds of the fifth round, after Watson had largely outboxed Purdy for the first four rounds. A great punch to end an entertaining fight. Purdy (15-2-1, 8 KO) picks up the British welterweight title with the upset win, easily the best of his young career, and at 23, he's got time to get better. Watson (20-4, 8 KO) looked good in the early stages, definitely the better boxer, and looked ready to take a step up to European level. He still might be, really. I still wouldn't pick many Euro level welters to beat him.
Super Bantamweights: Rendall Munroe UD-12 Andrei Isaeu
As much as I've always liked Munroe (22-2, 9 KO), his performance did not inspire much confidence this time out. He was almost lazy, never really pressed. Isaeu (23-3, 7 KO) hung around and the two had a pat-a-cake fight for 12 long rounds. Isaeu had some success here and there, but never really did much, which about matched Munroe's output for the fight. Scores were 117-112, 116-112 and 115-114. Bad Left hook scored it 115-113 for Munroe, and I hope this was just a half-rusty blip on the radar for him, because it was a frustrating performance.