Khan survives knockdown to edge out Diaz
Amir Khan (28-3) had to get off the deck to defeat former IBF lightweight champion Julio Diaz (40-8-1) by a 12 round unanimous decision on Saturday night at the Motorpoint Arena in Sheffield.
The final judges scores were 114-113, 115-113 and 115-112. Khan was knocked down in the fourth round from a left hook and staggered several times in the fight though he did demonstrate a new-found maturity and tremendous powers of recuperation to come though the stormy encounter.
Khan outworked Diaz in the opening round but the Mexican found his feet in the second, with a couple of flashing left hooks.
But Khan refused to be drawn into a war and, while Diaz landed with a couple of solid rights in the third, it was probably the Englishman's round again. Diaz floored Khan with a left hook two minutes in the fourth and, although Khan gathered his sences quickly, it was a 10-8 round for Diaz.
Khan boxed sensibly in the fifth, circuling away from Diaz's dangerous left hook, staying at range and winning the round with his jab.
After calming influence in the corner from American trainer Virgil Hunter, Khan controlled proceedings off the back foot in the sixth, but there were some furious exchanges in the seventh as Khan suddenly decided to stand and trade. He stood up to a crashing left hook in the eighth but was stiffened by a right to the temple midway through the round as Diaz came on strong. Khan got on his bike in the ninth landing with some snappy combinations from long range, but the 10th round was Diaz's, the veteran wobbling Khan with another solid left hook.
Khan was in desperate trouble in the 11th but somehow managed to stay on his feet and, despite Khan still shipping big shots in the final round, Diaz was unable to finish the job.
"Julio gave me a tough fight," said Khan. "He was tough and never took a step back. That was one of my hardest fights."
Although Khan won the fight, he was dropped and staggered at least five times in the fight and we're not talking about being against a first tier guy like Danny Garcia or Lamont Peterson. Diaz was selected by Khan's promoters Golden Boy Promotions so Khan could get a confidence booster, but Khan ended up getting hurt multiple times and only just coming through on the scorecards.
There was nothing in Khan's performance that suggest that the outcome would be any different if he were to face Garcia for a second time.
Khan doesn't have the chin to stand in with fighters like Garcia or Lucas Matthysse, and if Golden Boy puts him in with one of those guys in December like they plan to, Khan will likely get knocked out. Khan's chin is not up to snuff to beat guys like that.
Also on the bill, undefeated heavyweight knockout artist Deontay Wilder (28-0) never even gave 41-year-old Audley Harrison (31-7) a chance blowing him away in a round.
The 6'7" Wilder hurt Harrison with a right then followed up with a blizzard of punches that sent Audley down in the corner. Harrison made it back to his feet but referee Terry O'Connor chose to call a halt to the fight at 1:10 of the 1st round after seeing he was unsteady on his feet.
Anthony Ogogo scored a impressive stoppage on his professional debut halting Telford's Kieron Gray in the second round.
The bronze medalist from London 2012, Ogogo sent a huge right hook over Gray's low left hand and the 35-year-old crashed to the canvas. It was a testiment to Gray's heart and conditioning that he managed to get back to his feet at the count of eight but was badly hurt and referee Matthew Alexander halted proceedings.
Another debutant Haroon Khan beat Brett Fidoe over four rounds at super flyweight with referee Steve Gray scoring it 40-37 in favour of Amir's younger brother.