(Esther Lin, Showtime)
In a match-up of welterweight contenders from the charming hamlet of Las Vegas, Nevada, Amir Khan put on his best performance in years. Khan (30-3, 19 KO) used his superior reach and hand speed to dominate Devon Alexander from beginning to end, earning the unanimous decision by scores of 119-109, 118-110, and 120-108. TQBR also scored it 120-108.
Khan fought brilliantly throughout the Showtime headliner Saturday. The early action featured some heated exchanges, but it was Khan forcing the action and picking his moments to flurry and get back out. Most opponents are shocked early by Khan’s speed, but adjust to it on some level. Alexander (26-3, 14 KO) was never able to establish any type of rhythm. He was always a step late. When Alexander let his hands go, it was usually one punch at a time. His pawing jab was a complete nonfactor, as Khan stayed outside of its range and fired four-to-five punch combinations seemingly at will. Despite landing some decent shots in the mid rounds, Alexander began to look lost by the championship rounds and at times, Khan was just beating him up.
The perfect style match-up for Khan is a quick boxer who lacks punching power. Which is what Devon Alexander is. Favorable styles aside, this was a complete performance from Khan. He was confident, controlled, and calm. Trainer Virgil Hunter shed his usual Aaron Neville vibe and barked at Khan between rounds. Whatever he was saying obviously worked. They had a game plan and implemented it perfectly. Khan is well placed to get another big fight in a deep welterweight division. He called out Floyd Mayweather, again, but there are plenty of other available options, including a U.K. clash with Kell Brook. Alexander is still well placed, but probably won’t be headlining again in the near future.
In the co-feature, welterweight Keith Thurman rounded out a disappointing year by winning every round against Italian Leonard Bundu. Despite dropping Bundu early in the first round, Thurman (24-0, 21 KO) chose to box from the outside for the rest of the fight, sweeping every round on every card (120-108 x3). Bundu (31-1-2, 11 KO) was never in the fight. Whether it was Thurman’s refusal to go for the kill or Bundu’s refusal to do much of anything, the crowd booed several times during the fight and then gave Thurman unmitigated hell after the fight. The abuse was unfair. Thurman was thoroughly dominant, but it had the feeling of a sparring session at times.
Abner Mares got back in the win column with a 5th round stoppage of tough, if chubby, Jose Ramirez in a fun back and forth featherweight slugfest. Mares (28-1, 15 KO) dropped Ramirez with a body shot in the first round, but found himself on the defensive for much of the fight. Ramirez (24-4-2, 15 KO) pressed his attack despite taking huge punches from Mares. In the 5th round, Mares began teeing off, dropping Ramirez hard toward the end of the round. Jack Reiss decided to make up for his burgeoning competence by taking a point from Ramirez for spitting his mouthpiece out when he was on the ground. It was pointless. Ramirez barely made it to the end of the round and the corner stopped it after the end of the round. Mares was impressive, but still looks like a big puncher at featherweight will detach him from consciousness if he ever faces one again.
The opening bout was a gross mismatch between junior middleweights Jermall Charlo and Lenny Botai. Botai (22-3, 9 KO) was wearing running shoes and his mouthpiece clearly didn’t fit. That’s how out of his league he was. Charlo (20-0, 16 KO) started slowly before mercifully stepping it up and drilling Bottai with a left hook to the temple at 2:30 of the 3rd round. It was a complete waste of time. Hopefully Bottai got paid well to get beaten up.