- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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Former junior welterweight titlist Amir Khan just can’t win with some people.
He got knocked out in the fourth round by Danny Garcia in a unification bout on Saturday night at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas in a wonderfully exciting fight. Garcia had too much power and too much chin, and dropped Khan three times to score the upset knockout after walking though a ton of hard right hands.
Now, because Khan has been stopped twice in his career, some are suggesting that he should retire at age 25. I don’t get that. Khan is great for boxing. He’s never ducked anyone, he’s been willing to fight in his opponent’s hometown when he didn’t have to and he usually creates drama -- win or lose.
He has so much skill, but doesn’t always use it because he can’t help but get himself dragged into a slugfest. That’s good for us, the fans, even if it’s a detriment to Khan. But that’s why he’s a must-see fighter.
And now you have some people ridiculing him for losing and saying he should retire. But had Khan played it safe and boxed to a win like he probably could have, those same people would have also ridiculed him for fighting in a less-than-exciting style. You can’t have it both ways, people. I, for one, respect that when Khan says he’s coming to fight that he really means it. It’s not just some promotional ploy.
After the fight, Khan tweeted, “Can I apologize to my family, friends and everyone. I got caught with a shot and I know millions of you are upset, but that's boxing for you.”
My thought, which I tweeted back to Khan, was what does he have to apologize for? He doesn’t owe anyone an apology of any kind.
All Khan did was go out and fight his rear end off, make an exciting fight and show a huge heart. He got beat by Garcia, who, by the way, is pretty damn good in his own right. There’s nothing to apologize for when you give your best effort and lose to a worthy opponent.
On Monday, Khan released a statement that I thought showed a lot of class. He didn’t make excuses and gave Garcia the credit he richly deserved.
“I would like to thank all my fans and well wishers for the amazing support I've had from you since my defeat on Saturday night,” Khan said. “Obviously, the fight never went as planned but credit has to go to Danny Garcia, who caught me with a good shot in the third round that I couldn't fully recover from. I guess that's boxing, where one punch can change everything. It’s the reason so many fans love the sport. Many fighters down the years have bounced back from defeat to prove their greatness and that's exactly what I intend to do.
“I've never shirked any challenge or refused to fight anyone in my division even though it would have been easy for me to do so. Some may say that attitude is the wrong one to have but I've always wanted to please the fans and be involved in exciting fights because many of you pay good money to come and watch me, and it's only right that you get to see the best fighting the best, especially in an age when so many top fighters hand-pick opponents.
“I'm going to spend the next few weeks relaxing during Ramadan and recharging my batteries after what was a 16-week training camp for me (because of the cancellation of his original May 19 rematch with Lamont Peterson). I'll then sit down with my team to assess the options in front of me.
“Well done to Danny Garcia on his performance, but I promise that I'll bounce back stronger than ever as I look to regain my spot at the top of the 140lb division.”
Anyone who has a problem with Khan, who fights the way he does and then shows such immense class in the wake of a harrowing defeat, ought to find another sport to watch. Khan picked himself off the canvas after his knockout loss to Breidis Prescott in 2008 and went on to win a title and make some exciting fights. I’m pretty sure he’ll be able to do it again.