LAS VEGAS — Amir Khan survived a near-knockout to defeat Marcos Maidana by a unanimous decision and retain his junior welterweight title Saturday at Mandalay Bay.
Khan (24-1, 17 knockouts) was hurt badly by an overhand right about a minute into the 10th round, which brought back memories of his first-round KO loss against Breidis Prescott in 2008.
However, this time, Khan was able to survive against one of the biggest punchers in boxing and preserve an important victory.
“I'm sure everyone watching knows I made a mistake,” said Khan, referring to the punch that knocked him down. “But I worked hard and came back stronger. He's a strong fighter and he hits hard. My chin was tested.
“… You can tell by his record that he's a strong puncher and I took everything he gave me.”
Khan controlled much of the fight with his speed and movement, as he predicted he would. He landed quick combinations and then moved out of trouble consistently.
Thus, the Briton built a sizable lead after nine rounds — seven points on one card and five on the other two.
The problem was that Khan couldn't hurt Maidana (29-2, 27 KOs) with the exception of a vicious body shot that hurt him and put him down in first round.
Plus, Maidana, a fierce brawler, was able to attack with abandon and land his share of punches. He scored primarily inside, many times with uppercuts, but also landed some telling blows from a distance as Khan tried to fend him off.
Maidana won the last three rounds on two cards and two of three on the third but couldn't dig himself out of the hole he was in after nine rounds.
The Argentine lost a point in the fifth round for apparently trying to hit Khan with an elbow but it had no impact on the result.
“I thought I won,” Maidana said. “I thought I did enough in the final rounds to win the fight.”