It’s always difficult to determine when a fighter should hang it up. Fighters have made a habit of spending years fighting well past their prime. In recent memory, Roy Jones Jr., James Tony, Shane Mosley and a slew of other names have have held on for too long. For Amir Khan (33-5, 20 KOs), it seems as though he has also reached his expiration date.
This past Saturday night, the Lancashire-born Englishman suffered a sixth round knockout loss to Terence Crawford (35-0, 26 KOs) at Madison Square Garden. There’s no shame in losing to Crawford, to be sure. Many have “Bud” pound-for-pound number one on their list.
That isn’t the issue here. The issue lies in the performance. Crawford knocked Khan down in the very first round and had him seriously hurt. Khan managed to bounce back nicely and regained his composure as the fight went, but Crawford was winning handily.
The sixth round is where things got very strange. Crawford landed a punch that was clearly low, the referee gave Khan him the proper time to regain his wits before continuing. Instead of taking that time, he instead choose to throw in the towel. It was later revealed that his trainer Virgil Hunter actually called off the contest. But Khan was not opposed to the stoppage.
Consider: Have you ever seen a fighter stopped from a low blow? Not repeated low blows but one—just one. It just was not a good look for Khan. Many of the fans and members of the media have accused him of quitting. It is hard to disagree there. It simply looked as though Khan no longer wanted to be there.
Call Khan anything you want but a quitter. Throughout his career he has never been known as such. He has consistently signed up for tough fight after tough fight and has given it his all. The quitter label is hard to justify; Khan has the ultimate heart.
With that being said, what exactly should he do with his career? He has accomplished much in the sport of boxing: fought numerous world champions, captured multiple titles, and won an Olympic silver medal.
But it is time to hang up the gloves.
Khan can still beat fringe contenders but will he enjoy doing that? He no longer can defeat or even compete with the world-class boxers of the day. It seems as though he has nothing left in the tank.
Khan may disagree (“I feel like I still have a lot left in me,” said Khan during the post fight presser for his latest loss), perhaps destined to follow in the footsteps of fighters who refused to give it up at the proper time.
That is his right. And it is boxing fandom’s to urge him not to.