Amir Khan returned to New York for the first time since his American debut and delivered another exciting performance en route to a hard-fought victory Friday night.
Fighting in New York since his 11th-round TKO win over Paulie Malignaggi five years ago, former unified 140 lb. world champion Khan (31-3, 19 KOs) defeated New York’s own Chris Algieri via unanimous decision inside Brooklyn’s Barclays Center in the main event of Spike TV’s Premier Boxing Champions telecast.
Judge Don Ackerman scored the bout 115-113 for Khan, while judges Joseph Pasquale and Benoit Roussel favored Khan by scores of 117-111.
SFBay also scored the bout 117-111 in Khan’s favor.
The action was fast and furious from the opening bell. Khan controlled a majority of the first round by pumping his jab into Algieri’s face and landing three- and four-punch combinations.
But seconds before the round concluded, Algieri (20-2, 8 KOs) cracked Khan with a hard straight right hand. Algieri then punctuated the round by landing a counter left hook.
As the fight progressed, Khan – the 28-year-old star from Bolton, Lancashire, United Kingdom –displayed his technical craft by constantly tagging Algieri with fluid combinations. He also found success landing solid left hooks, including a wicked left to the body.
Aware that he couldn’t outbox the faster, craftier Khan, Huntington-born Algieri – a former 140 lb. title holder, himself – constantly moved forward in hopes of pressuring Khan and disrupting his rhythm.
Algieri had big success in the eighth round when he blasted Khan with an overhand right and immediately followed up with a left hook. Algieri also pinned Khan against the ropes and displayed good in-fighting towards the end of the round.
Despite having a near two-inch height advantage, Algieri, 31, couldn’t fully impose his will against Khan and only landed one or two punches to Khan’s three or four.
Khan offered his respect to Algieri for his efforts after the fight and said that he and his trainer – Oakland’s Virgil Hunter – were surprised by Algieri’s decision to move forward:
“There were a few mistakes I made. Obviously, I didn’t expect Chris Algieri coming forward. I thought he was going to move back and be on the back foot. But when I’m in the corner and Virgil told me the right game plan to follow, we had to change it up to go to game plan B, and it worked for me.”
After Hunter urged him to be more aggressive in between the eighth and ninth rounds, Khan did so in the tenth by viciously whacking Algieri with fierce left hooks.
Khan also briefly stunned Algieri with a short right uppercut on the inside and clocked him with another wicked left hook to the side of Algieri’s ear that further punctuated his seemingly inevitable victory.
Khan landed 218 out of 609 punches thrown (36 percent) according to Compubox, compared to 199 out of 703 (28 percent) landed by Algieri.
Khan, who has been training in the Bay Area since 2012, is now 5-0 under Hunter’s tutelage.
He delivered an impressive campaign at welterweight last year by emphatically defeating former title holders Luis Collazo and Devon Alexander.
His decision to fight Algieri – who tasted the canvas six times in a virtual shutout loss to Filipino sensation Manny Pacquiao this past November – was met with some criticism as it was speculated he would elect to fight fellow countryman and current IBF welterweight champ Kell Brook.
But the fight was not the walk in the park that many may have expected as Algieri – under the tutelage of new trainer John David Jackson – made Khan fight hard to earn the decision win.
Through his game effort, Algieri somewhat redeemed himself for his lackluster performance against Pacquiao in his previous fight.
Though he wasn’t as dominant against Algieri as he was against Collazo and Alexander, Khan made it clear which fighter is on his radar next:
“I think everybody knows Amir Khan wants to fight Floyd Mayweather. I mean, that’s what we want next. I’m the number-one (fighter) in the WBC and Mayweather is the champion – so let’s make it happen.”