This Saturday, Amir Khan has his first defence of the WBA Light Welterweight title since winning it of Andriy Kotelnik a few months back.
This is his second fight at light welterweight, and his opponent is Dmitry ‘Star of David’ Salita, an undefeated Ukrainian born fighter from Brooklyn . His record currently stands at 30-0-1 (16) compared to Khan's, which stands at 21-1 (15).
Both fighters had excellent amateur careers. Khan, as we all know, was a 2004 Olympic Silver Medallist. Salita’s amateur record was good at 59-5 and he represented New York in the Junior Olympics, winning a bronze medal, and winning the Golden Gloves tournament in 2001, also picking up the Sugar Ray Robinson award for Outstanding Boxer of the tournament.
Salita is a very effective boxer, a very skillfull fighter who is not blisteringly fast but he is by no means slow either. He can bang a bit, again not overly heavy-handed but not feather fisted, a good counterpuncher, good balance and movement; overall, he is a very well rounded package.
Khan is also a very effective boxer, as skilled if not more so than Salita, he is blisteringly fast, he can also bang a bit, can counterpunch but is more of a volume puncher, with excellent balance and brilliant movement but perhaps more of a suspect chin.
These attributes of the two boxers all add up to a great fight, which we should get, but there are subtle differences that could make all the difference.
At first glance of Salita’s record, it is obvious he has had more fights, and thus is more experienced…the question is has he really been tested? This is his first world title shot, and he has not really been in with any recognizable names. He still has that 0 on his record and so has never tasted defeat, which in contrast Khan said he needed a loss to be the best he could be.
As mentioned, there are no big names on Salita’s list, but that’s not to say he has had walkovers, although they could very well have been, it’s a bit of an unknown.
Khan, however, has had some decent names on his résumé. He has taken on some classy operators in the domestic division such as Willie Limond for the Commonwealth lightweight belt in his 13th fight, surviving a knockdown in the sixth round, only to come back and rally in the seventh and stop Limond.
After that fight, Khan faced Scott Lawton, stopping him in four, following that win he faced Graham Earl, highly touted at the time, and stopped him in 72 seconds.
He then faced Martin Kristjansen, producing a seventh round stoppage before posting a 12 round unanimous decision over Gary St.Clair. Both boxers had been ranked by the WBO and deemed as gatekeepers.
Former British super feather champ Michael Gomez, well known for being tough and durable, knocked Khan down in the second round, but again Khan found his feet and put Gomez on the canvas a few times before eventually stopping him!
Then came the infamous Breidis Prescott fight in August, 2008 when Khan was crushed in the first round. As previously mentioned, Khan said he needed that in order to get better and it was the best thing to happen to him and his career, however we all would like to see him avenge that loss.
Then he transferred over to America, under the tutelage of trainer Freddie Roach, often sparring with multi-weight world champion Manny Pacquiao, which has to be good for your confidence and skill set.
In his last bout as a lightweight, Khan fought an aging Marco Antonio Barrera and it made for an interesting fight had it not of gone to a cuts stoppage.
Khan then had a blinding performance against WBA light welter titlist Andriy Kotelnik, sticking to the game plan that Roach had laid out for him, totally outboxing the former Olympian over twelve rounds.
Earlier it was mentioned that Salita has had more fights, but it is a relatively straight forward career and if this is his first legitimate test, then he could come up short. On the flip side, this could be his moment to show he can dig deep and drag Khan and his suspect chin into the trenches.
Khan has had such a diverse amount of experience and although five years younger than Salita and having had less pro fights, Amir has done so much with his fledgling career, in some cases more than a lot of world champions out there, and will likely be the more experienced man regardless of how many bouts they have had.
This fight will probably go the distance but should be an interesting clash, both fighters have good skills and good speed, but Khan, being so good at stepping in and out of range and letting go of his hands, should pull away in the second half of the fight taking a unanimous decision win.