Khan beats Vargas, wants Pacman next

Britain's Amir Khan (right) using his famed hand speed against Colombia's Samuel Vargas in their welterweight bout on Saturday, en route to his 119-108, 119-109, 118-110 unanimous-decision victory.
Britain's Amir Khan (right) using his famed hand speed against Colombia's Samuel Vargas in their welterweight bout on Saturday, en route to his 119-108, 119-109, 118-110 unanimous-decision victory.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • On another wild night in the roller-coaster boxing career of Amir Khan, the Briton recovered from a heavy knockdown to outpoint Colombia's Samuel Vargas in Birmingham on Saturday and remain on course for a shot at a welterweight world title.

And, after his unanimous-decision victory, Khan called out Filipino boxing legend and former world champion at seven weight classes Manny Pacquiao, with bitter rival and compatriot Kell Brook watching on at ringside.

"The only fight that works for me over is Manny Pacquiao. I want him, he is my number one pick," the 31-year-old, who improved his record to 33 wins with 20 knockouts, told Sky Sports in his post-fight interview.

"If not, we go back to the drawing board and if it's Kell Brook, it's Kell Brook."

Khan looked sharp in the early stages, with his famed hand speed coming to the fore as he dropped Vargas with a straight right in the second round.

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, with his suspect chin telling.

His 29-year-old opponent was down again in the third and Khan looked close to stopping his bloodied rival in round five before slowing considerably down the stretch, 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 the 2004 Athens Olympic silver medallist saw it through to the end and was awarded a unanimous decision, 119-108, 119-109, 118-110, on the judges' scorecards.

"There were times in the fight when I wanted to put him (Vargas) away, there were times when I could have pushed it and knocked him out," he added.

"He (Vargas) caught me with an overhand right hand, right on the button, I got back up and I was fine.

"This is boxing and I've got to learn from those mistakes."

It was only Khan's third fight since 2015. In 2016, he was knocked out by the Mexican Saul "Canelo" Alvarez in Las Vegas, when challenging for the World Boxing Council middleweight title.

His last bout was a 39-second demolition of the Canadian Phil Lo Greco in April.

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 10, 2018, with the headline 'Khan beats Vargas, wants Pacman next'. Print Edition | Subscribe