Eight months after losing his WBA and IBF junior welterweight straps to Lamont Peterson, Amir Khan will seek to lift Danny Garcia's newly-acquired WBC strap Saturday in Las Vegas. Will "King Khan" get to wear another crown or will the undefeated Garcia add Khan's name to his growing list of prominent victims that include Nate Campbell, Kendall Holt and Erik Morales? Their CompuBox histories provide the following points to consider:
Eroding Defense?: In his last three fights against Peterson, Zab Judah and Paul McCloskey, Khan has become an easier target for their power punches. The aforementioned trio landed a combined 42.3% of their power shots, led by Peterson's 46.3% in December. During that span, Khan has been operating "underwater," defined as one whose opponents land at a higher percentage. In Khan's case, his last three opponents have landed nearly six percentage points more overall (33.6%-27.8%) and nearly nine percentage points more in power shots (42.3%-33.7%).
Conversely, in the four fights previous to that (Marcos Maidana, Paul Malignaggi, Dmitriy Salita and Andriy Kotenik), Khan enjoyed substantial percentage leads -- a combined 33.9%-22.3% overall, 27.4%-16.6% jabs and 41.7%-25.8% power. At 25, is Khan already showing signs of slippage, or is this a mere bump in the road?
Creating Connections: The good news for Khan is that in terms of raw numbers, he still out-performed his recent opponents. Despite losing to Peterson, Khan landed more overall punches (238-226) and jabs (69-38) but Peterson's edge in power connects (188-169) and higher accuracy (39.4%-31.4% overall, 23.7%-22.8% jabs, 46.3%-26.3% power) along with home ring advantage and two controversial point penalties lifted the hometown fighter past Khan on the scorecards.
This favorable trend continued against Judah (61-20 overall, 28-8 jabs, 33-12 power) and McCloskey (88-44 overall and 73-28 power -- Khan trailed 16-15 in jabs), mostly because Khan out-threw them substantially (284-115 vs. Judah, 349-174 vs. McCloskey). For Khan to win, he must maintain an active pace and if Garcia's CompuBox history is any indicator, he may end up ahead on raw numbers in the end.
Taking What's Given: To date, Garcia has passed every test administered thus far -- and not by a little. In beating Morales -- who lost the title on the scales -- Garcia threw more (779-547 overall, 334-307 jabs, 445-240 power) and landed more (238-164 total, 170-71 power), overcoming Morales' 93-68 jab connect edge to post a comprehensive decision.
In beating Kendall Holt by a split decision that should have been unanimous, the pattern held -- he simply did more than his opponent. He out-threw Holt 521-338 (total), 174-125 (jabs) and 347-213 (power) and scored more connects across the board (184-103 total, 45-24 jabs, 139-79 power). He did the same in out-pointing Nate Campbell over 10 as he out-threw him 543-389 (total) and 331-147 (power) and out-landed "The Galaxxy Warrior" 172-98 (total) and 142-54 (power).
However, Garcia's pace is moderate compared to Khan's. While Khan averaged 60.4 per round in his last three fights, Garcia averaged 54.2, slightly below the 60.3 junior welterweight norm. While he threw 64.9 per round against Morales, the future Hall of Famer couldn't summon much positive resistance and Garcia was allowed to fight as he pleased. How will he react to Khan's height, reach, activity and power?
Prediction: Garcia has forged his current standing on the backs of aging or compromised fighters in Campbell, Holt and Morales while Khan, a nearly 6-1 favorite over Garcia, has proved himself against fighters closer to their primes (Judah being a notable exception). Khan will use his height and reach along with his faster hands to build a mathematical mountain on the scorecards, which he'll capture unanimously.