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Amir Khan proves critics wrong in latest win

Overrated, cocky and fragile not good descriptions of Khan following Saturday

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Steve Marcus

WBA super lightweight champion Amir Khan (L) of Britain punches at WBA interim champion Marcos Maidana of Argentina during their title fight Saturday at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.

Khan vs. Maidana

WBA interim super lightweight champion Marcos Maidana (L) of Argentina is treated in his corner between rounds during his title fight against WBA champion Amir Khan of Britain on Saturday at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. Launch slideshow »

Khan edges Maidana

Highlights of the Khan-Maidana bout from KSNV's "Sports Night in Las Vegas."

It might be time to forget what you thought you knew about Amir Khan.

The British boxer fought and won his second-ever fight in the United States on Saturday, edging Marcos Maidana by unanimous decision in a gutsy effort at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.

The performance was a riveting one for the Khan’s debut in Las Vegas and one that contradicted any negative perception U.S. fans might have had of him.

Prior to Khan’s fights in the U.S., some reports described Khan as arrogant and overrated. Not to mention he couldn’t take a punch.

But Khan didn’t live up to any of those criticisms this weekend, especially the one about him not having a chin.

The 140-pound champion absorbed everything Maidana threw at him Saturday and surprised many of the 4,632 fans in attendance by staying on his feet the entire fight.

“It was 12 rounds of hit, hit, hit,” Khan said. “I took his best shots. Those people who said Amir Khan has no chin, I’m sure I’ve proven them wrong now.”

In the buildup to Saturday’s fight, Khan (24-1, 17 KO) admitted he could make more money and sell more tickets in England but came to the U.S. to elevate his status in the boxing ranks.

Through two fights in the U.S., not only has Khan proven he belongs in the ring with the sport’s best, he’s also shown he’s not the cocky, overrated Brit some were expecting.

Khan, 24, was a professional in every sense. In the final round of the fight, he touched gloves with his opponent even though Maidana had swung cheaply at him in his two previous offers to do so.

He survived the worst round of his career in the tenth, when Maidana had him hurt and against the ropes throughout.

“That was a real tough round,” said Khan’s trainer, Freddie Roach. “He showed a lot of heart getting through that and he got his legs back in the eleventh.”

Although some said referee Joe Cortez favored the winner, there’s no question Khan had to fight through a few rough tactics used by Maidana.

From the first round, Maidana continually threw late punches on the breaks and was caught throwing an elbow in the fifth round, which Cortez took a point away for. In the final round, Khan took the worst of a headbutt as Maidana came forward.

When it was all over and talk of a rematch immediately came up, Khan said he was open to it when, in truth, fighting Maidana again instead of moving on to the bigger names in the division is likely the last thing Khan would want.

“A rematch? Yeah, I think that would be great,” Khan said. “I made a few mistakes in the fight I would not make again. Sometimes I fight with my heart too much. I’m still young and I still need experience.”

While there is a case for a rematch, it’s likely Khan will be on to bigger opportunities in 2011.

Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s name has been brought up as an opponent before, but it’s more likely Khan would see either Timothy Bradley or Devon Alexander later next year. Those two are scheduled to fight each other in January.

Regardless of where he turns up next, fans will likely have a lot of expectations when it comes to Khan’s future fights.

But an overrated fighter with no chin should no longer be one of them.

Brett Okamoto can be reached at 948-7817 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at LVSunFighting

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