Amir Khan was showered with superlatives by legendary five-time world champion Sugar Ray Leonard after making a successful American television debut at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.
Khan’s 12th professional contest turned out to be one of his most straight-forward as he picked off veteran Doncaster lightweight Steffy Bull at will before stopping him at one minute 45 seconds of round three.
The Olympic silver medallist’s bout was broadcast free-to-air in the US by cable giant Home Box Office, and Leonard, watching at ringside, said fans on both sides of the Atlantic would be
impressed by what they had seen.
Leonard said: “Amir has amazing attributes. He has hand-speed, power and confidence. He has everything. As long as he is moved on correctly, that kid has the makings of a superstar.”
High praise indeed coming from Leonard, but Khan has so far backed up all the prophecies of greatness directed his way and was totally in command against an opponent who seemed awed by the occasion.
It was easy to see why it might be too much. Bull, now 24-5-1, had built up his modest record largely on local club shows and had swapped a short-lived retirement and a couple of ringside seats to take the fight.
Suddenly he found himself announced into the ring by MC Michael Buffer, clad in gleaming white robes and even acquiring the nickname ’Supersonic’ for the evening. For Khan, on the other hand, it was business as usual.
Khan said: “I think it was a good fight to be shown in America. They will see that there is another great fighter coming up from England. I showed tonight that I can throw body shots and adapt my style.”
Khan worked well to the body, winding Bull with a crunching right early in the second as the Doncaster man reverted entirely to survival mode. A jolting right hand to the head in round three weakened his resistance.
Two ripping body shots against the ropes dumped Bull to the canvas. Despite clambering up at the count of eight he showed no inclination to continue, and referee Marcus McDonnell waved the contest off.
Khan will now return in July, likely on the next Joe Calzaghe bill at the former Millennium Dome. The increasingly bullish 20-year-old would love the opportunity to test himself against a major domestic rival.
Khan added: “I’d love to shut their mouths. I believe I would give [British champion] Jonathan Thaxton a boxing lesson, while Kevin Mitchell and Graham Earl have gone very quiet lately.
“John Murray is not even on my level. Everybody knows who is better. He has got a world youth title but he’s the one calling me out. It should be the other way round. They’re scared and they just see it as a pay-day.”
Enzo Maccarinelli continued his emergence as one of the hardest-hitting fighters in the world today with an utterly one-sided first round win over New Jersey’s Bobby Gunn.
Maccarinelli took just 155 seconds to retain his WBO cruiserweight title, during which time he turned the former bare-knuckle brawler’s face into a mask of blood and prompted referee Mark Nelson to call the contest off.
Gunn’s trainer Joe Grier, who first bizarrely tried to claim a mix-up over the colour of his shorts had adversely affected his man’s preparation, admitted: “Maccarinelli is a monster. No cruiserweight can live with him.”
Maccarinelli will now pursue a unification match, possibly against the widely regarded number one, WBC and WBA champion Jean-Marc Mormeck, or more likely Poland’s IBF king Krzysztof Wlodarczyk.
Maccarinelli said: “I have proved I am ready for the big fights now. I got the job done tonight and I have so much confidence in my ability. The sooner I can get Mormeck or Wlodarczyk in the ring the better.”