SAN DIEGO, Calif., April 21, 2018 – Highlights from Saturday’s boxing action across Great Britain from three fights, each telling a different story.
Amir Khan announces his return in sizzling fashion
British former champion Amir Khan blasted his way back into boxing after more than two years out of the ring with a knockout victory over Phil Lo Greco of Canada. If you didn’t get settled into your seat to watch from the opening bell, chances are you had to see the fight on replay.
Khan (32-4, 20 KOs) came storming out of the corner at Lo Greco, and within seconds let his fists fly with his trademark speed on display. Seconds into the round, Khan caught Lo Greco over his extended rangefinger jab with a left hook, then delivered a sensational right upper cut to drop Lo Greco to the deck.
Lo Greco shook off the blast, but he was damaged goods. Khan didn’t hesitate, and moved right back in to finish the journeyman off. He pounded Lo Greco into the ropes and didn’t let up until the referee intervened to stop the fight at 39 seconds. Total.
An elated Khan said after the fight he trained to fight all 12 rounds and thought he would need to deliver a “clinical job, smart and moving.” The plan changed on the fly. “(New trainer) Joe Goossen said to me today, don’t go looking for a knockout … I saw the opening, connected with a left hook, and I knew he was hurt.”
Khan admitted, “I was a little bit nervous today, coming back to a full Liverpool crowd. It gave me a push. I didn’t know who I would be after two years, but I’m back.”
Khan says his future holds big fights, and they’ll take place at home if he has his say. “I want to give all you UK fans big fights,” said Khan, after fighting his bouts for several years in the United States. “I want to show you what Amir Khan is all about.” The obvious opponent for Khan is Kell Brook, who was ringside and came into the ring after the bout. The pair traded barbs and Khan promised he’d make Brook “see stars.” At his post fight news conference, Khan also called out Adrien Broner, who would fight later that evening in Brooklyn against Jessie Vargas.
Frampton scores solid decision over Donaire
Fights are won or lost; fights come and go. Both Carl Frampton (25-1, 14 KOs) and Nonito Donaire (38-5, 24 KOs) and the entire boxing community should take pride in these champions for their class and sportsmanship beyond anything that happens in the ring. It is almost a shame one of these men had to lose.
Saturday, it was Frampton who prevailed in a superb performance against a determined Donaire in front of his hometown fans at the SSE Arena in Belfast. Frampton received three identical scorecards of 117-111. Frampton is now in position for a fight against one of the featherweight division’s titleholders.
While the scorecard weren’t close, Donaire kept himself in the fight after a sharp start by Frampton. With his left eye swelling up early, Donaire roared back with good inside work on Frampton in the middle rounds. Donaire is the type of opponent who is dangerous until the final bell. He hurt Frampton briefly in the 11th round. But this time, the 35-year-old 2012 Fighter of the Year simply could not muster enough speed or skill to catch up with the 31-year-old 2016 Fighter of the Year.
“I just seen in the 11th round, Nonito Donaire is a dangerous (MF), from start to finish,” said Frampton. “But look, I stuck to the game plan, my boxing was beautiful … He was a sharp puncher through. In the 11th round, I was definitely hurt. People can see it. I’m not going to deny it.”
Respect and sportsmanship on display by two great champions
Both Frampton and Donaire each took time to compliment the other. These two men truly respect and like each other outside the ring, as only two champions can who understand how difficult their path to the top can be. “Nonito Donaire, I’d just like to say, what a nice man,” said Frampton. “His team around him, they are good, good people … He is a world class fighter and a world class gentleman.”
Donaire returned the favor, speaking directly to Frampton at the post fight news conference. “Whatever you need, whatever I can help with … Amazing fight, I had so much fun with the fight. I just gotta say, you did well, you’re smart. I had so much fun with it,” as the pair embraced. Boxing is fortunate to have two class acts like Frampton and Donaire representing the sport.
Frampton’s future takes him to the football pitch
Frampton picks up a vacant WBO interim featherweight title. He now hopes to stage a fight this summer at Belfast’s Windsor Park soccer stadium, with a capacity of 18,400. Promoter Frank Warren promised Frampton he’d help make his dream reality with a win over Donaire.
Who might it be? Frampton said he’s love a rematch with Leo Santa Cruz, who fights Abner Mares on June 9. He also has his eye on Oscar Valdez, now recovering from a broken jaw in his last bout. He won’t be ready for August, but fans should be willing to wait on this outstanding matchup. An all-UK bout with the winner of the Lee Selby vs. Josh Warrington is more likely. Whoever it is, “There’s not a man on this planet at featherweight that’s going to beat me at Windsor Park,” Frampton said.
Zolani Tete breezes past Omar Narvaez
South African phenom Zolani Tete (27-3, 21 KOs) shut out Omar Narvaez of Argentina (48-3-2, 25 KOs) in every round on all cards to retain his WBO bantamweight title on the line. Tete is such a skilled fighter, he barely needed to crack a sweat toying with Narvaez. Bear in mind both fighters rank among the top five bantamweights in the world. This was not a part-time Uber driver in the ring with Tete.
No doubt Tete benefitted from his extended sparring session with Narvaez, but it didn’t make for the most entertaining fight. You still have to admire the craft of Tete, while looking forward to a more challenging opponent and more exciting outing next time.
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Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a veteran boxing observer covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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