Archive for December 12th, 2010

Amir Khan Does Enough to Retain Title

By Lance Pugmire for The LA Times

Amir Khan stood on his greatest American stage Saturday, and the fact that he remained standing is why he retained his World Boxing Assn. junior-welterweight world title against Marcos Maidana.

Withstanding a brutal 10th-round assault by the tough, hard-hitting Argentine, England’s Khan convincingly answered allegations that he has no chin and otherwise produced a sensational display of speed and flurry punching to win a unanimous decision by scores of 114-111 (judges Jerry Roth and C.J. Ross) and 113-112 (Glenn Trowbridge).

“I’m a boxer, I know I’m going to get hit.” Khan, 24, said in the Mandalay Bay ring. “He’s a strong puncher. I took everything he gave me.”

Khan (24-1) knocked down Maidana in the opening round, unleashing a quick flurry that closed with a hard left to the body that brought an obvious groan of pain from the challenger.

Maidana (29-2), who had knocked out 27 opponents, couldn’t match Khan’s punching or foot speed, but he did catch the Briton of Pakistani heritage often, like in the second round, when he erupted with uppercuts and rights.

Maidana threw 767 punches to Khan’s 603, but landed only 156 to Khan’s 273. Khan won four of the first five rounds on the judges’ scorecards.

Maidana’s response was pressure that backed up Khan in the sixth and seventh rounds, and dimmed some of the champion’s earlier shine.

The eighth and ninth rounds went Khan’s way and he appeared en route to quieting the critics who still bark about his first-round knockout loss in 2008, producing a resilient, entertaining style that the sport has needed from a young star who previously fought in Europe and first came to the U.S. earlier this year.

This was more than that polite introduction; it was an all-out brawl that produced the epic 10th round in which Maidana appeared poised for a knockout in the first minute.

Maidana staggered the champion to the point he was grasping for support from anywhere — a ring rope, referee Joe Cortez, Maidana — to stay upright.

At one point, it appeared tears were coming from Khan’s eyes as Maidana battered him without abandon. All three judges scored the round 10-8 for Maidana, astounding given that Khan was not knocked down.

The sense afterward was that Khan was more thrilled by his display of toughness than his defensive lapses.

“I’m sure everyone watching my fight knows I’ve made mistakes,” Khan said. “But I worked hard and came back stronger than ever. He’s a strong fighter and punches hard. My chin was tested and I proved today I’ve got a chin.”

Maidana couldn’t get Khan in the 11th round, either, and the champion rallied late in the 12th round with impressive combinations, walking with his arms raised into the embrace of trainer Freddie Roach at the bell.

Obama Prays for Holbrooke’s Recovery

As Reported by The Associated Press

Richard Holbrooke, the Obama administration’s diplomatic point man for Afghanistan and Pakistan, remained in critical condition Saturday night after surgery to repair a tear in his aorta. President Barack Obama Saturday expressed support for Holbrooke’s family in the difficult hour and prayed for his recovery.

“Earlier today, I spoke to Richard Holbrooke’s wife Kati and told her that Michelle and I are praying for Richard. Richard Holbrooke is a towering figure in American foreign policy, a critical member of my Afghanistan and Pakistan team, and a tireless public servant who has won the admiration of the American people and people around the world. I know that Secretary Clinton, Admiral Mullen, Tom Donilon, and other members of our team have been with him at George Washington hospital, and we continue to pray for his recovery, and support his family in this difficult time,” Obama said in the statment.

Holbrooke, 69, was rushed to George Washington University Hospital on Friday morning after he had chest pains during a meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, The Washington Post reported. He was almost immediately taken into surgery that extended for 21 hours into Saturday, the paper added.

With Holbrooke in intensive care only blocks away, President Obama’s senior national security advisers met at the White House on Saturday to discuss a major internal assessment of the war in Afghanistan. Obama will review the assessment Monday, with release to the public scheduled for later in the week.

Meanwhile, according to the Post, the U.S. administration officials said that Holbrooke’s condition would not affect the war review, compiled over the past month by the National Security Council staff from assessments made by Holbrooke and his staff and by the military coalition led by Gen Patreaus.

Holbrooke’s long diplomatic experience has given him a unique perspective within the administration and has positioned him perhaps better than anyone to navigate the often messy intersection of diplomacy, counterinsurgency and politics, the newspaper noted. Holbrooke, the newspaper reported, has been a strong advocate of a negotiated settlement of the war and of massive increases in development and governance aid. Under his direction, the number of U.S. civilian officials in Afghanistan has more than tripled, to exceed 1,000. He experienced health problems in August, when he underwent treatment for heart problems.

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