Birmingham (Agencies): On another wild night in the tortuous career of Amir Khan, the Bolton boxer recovered from a heavy knockdown to outpoint Colombia’s Samuel Vargas in Birmingham and remain on course for a shot at a welterweight world title.
Khan looked sharp in the early stages, dropping Vargas with a straight right in round two. However, and not for the first time in his career, Khan was flattened by a huge right cross in the dying seconds of the same round.
Vargas was down again in the third and Khan looked close to stopping his bloodied rival in round five. The Briton slowed considerably down the stretch, though, and the rugged Vargas was able to dig in.
In round 10, Khan was saved by the bell again, having been stiffened by a Vargas right hand. But Khan saw it through to the end and was awarded a unanimous decision, 119-108, 119-109, 118-10 on the judges’ scorecards. It was only Khan’s third fight since 2015. In 2016, he was knocked out by Saúl Álvarez in Las Vegas, when challenging for the WBC middleweight title. His last fight was a 39-second demolition of Canadian Phil Lo Greco in April.
Khan’s victory makes a grudge match with cross-Pennine rival Kell Brook a distinct possibility. The phoney war has lasted for years. But with both men now promoted by Eddie Hearn, and Brook, who was ringside in Birmingham, apparently willing to drop back down from light-middleweight, there could finally be live rounds in December. If it does finally happen, Cardiff’s Principality Stadium, which holds 80,000 and has a roof, could play host.
Another option for Khan is his old sparring partner Manny Pacquiao. The Philippine legend, a former world champion at seven weights, is not what he was, and having coveted the fight for so long, Khan will feel the timing is perfect. The welterweight division is rich in talent, with three of the four world title belts held by unbeaten Americans. It is difficult to say which is the path of least resistance.
Errol Spence, who knocked out Sheffield’s Brook in 2017, is the IBF champion and arguably the best of the bunch. Terence Crawford, the WBO title-holder, is a powerful switch-hitter and a three-weight world champion. Keith Thurman is the WBA champion, while Danny García fought his fellow American Shawn Porter for the vacant WBC title in New York on Saturday. Khan, 31, has not been a world champion since 2012, when he lost his WBA light-welterweight title to García. Khan now has 33 wins (21 KOs) and four defeats.