Andriy Kotelnik Vs. Amir Khan - Who Wins?
by James Slater - It has already been widely reported that Ukraine's WBA light-welterweight champion Andriy Kotelnik will defend his belt against Britain's Amir Khan in June, and this news, as was the case when it was thrust upon us that Khan would be fighting the legendary Marco Antonio Barrera, has come clean out of the blue. Promoter Frank Warren sure knows how to get a buzz going around his lightweight star, who will, of course, be adding up to five pounds of muscle to his frame for his first world title challenge.
Article posted on 09.04.2009
Just what "Vicious" Victor Ortiz thinks about the news we can only guess - scheduled as he was to make his own challenge of Kotelnik on the June 27th date now set aside for the Olympic silver medallist. Still, Ortiz is out and Khan is in, and we fans are already debating whether or not Khan, 20-1(15), and coming off his biggest win to date, has the stuff needed to dethrone the 31-2-1(13) champion who has never yet been stopped as a pro.
Moving up to 140-pounds makes sense for Khan. Always a big guy for the lightweight division, the 22-year-old will still be the taller man when he goes in there with the 31-year-old who lives in Germany - what with Khan standing 5'10" and Kotelnik standing some two-and-a-half inches the shorter man. Also, Khan, if he carries his amazing speed up with him, will hold a big advantage here too, and at 140 he figures to be even stronger physically. However, the main thing people tend to talk about when it comes to Khan is his chin. How will this ingredient so important to a fighter's success hold up at 140-pounds?
Kotelink, as his 13 KO's or stoppages show, is not a huge puncher by any means. The defending WBA champ may not need to be to get Khan in trouble, though. For even though Khan has shown great character by coming back from his 54-second nightmare at the hands of Breidis Prescott to beat Barrera, the memory of him being wobbled by a jab and then crushed by the Colombian's follow-up shots has not been in any way forgotten. At the higher weight, Khan's ability to take a shot may improve, or it may worsen.
Kotelnik also, will have no trepidation whatsoever about travelling to the UK for the June fight (venue still to be determined). Boxing over in the UK three times in the not too distant past, Kotelnik has shown he can fight and win abroad. Khan will be hoping he can emulate countryman Junior Witter's performance when he gets his turn at the man who was born in Ukraine. Meeting in a European title match in Nottingham back in July of 2005, "The Hitter" captured a unanimous decision victory.
Kotelnik did better in his two subsequent bouts on British soil, as in March of 2007 he drew in Liverpool with Frenchman Souleymane M'baye in his first shot at the WBA belt he now holds (in a rematch of a points loss he had suffered in M'baye's home country two-and-a-half year's previously), and then a year later, in Cardiff, Kotelnik stopped then WBA champ Gavin Rees in the 12th and final round to become ruler.
Since then, Kotelnik has made two successful defences, one in Ukraine, the other in Germany, winning both on points. Will he see off the challenge of the 22-year-old speedster? If not, Frank Warren's latest gamble will have paid off and his ability at getting his fighter's the best bouts will be much applauded. And, with no disrespect aimed at Kotelnik, he is possibly a fighter Khan CAN take. No spring chicken at age 31, not a devastating banger, not too hard to hit, and also the shorter man, Kotelnik is probably the best option for Khan when it comes to which of the current world champions he should be going for.
Sure, there is always the chance in any Khan fight that the hotshot could be caught on the chin and sent crashing. However, with his speed, youth and superb fitness, Khan has a great chance to box his way to a points win in the summer. The same thing was said going into the Barrera fight, but this really is the acid test for Khan. Being as he's challenging for a world title, this is how it should be though.
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