Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Boxing: Haroon can be better than Amir

Haroon Khan stepped out of the shadow cast by big brother Amir with a stunning Commonwealth Games debut win.

And that has convinced proud father Shah he can be even better than his world champion sibling.

Shah was ringside in the Talkatora Stadium in Delhi to see Khan, wearing the vest of Pakistan, dismantle Tanzanian opponent Sunday Elias, with the referee stopped the bout midway through the third round as Khan held a commanding 12-1 lead.

Shah said: "Haroon can be better than Amir. If he puts 100 per cent into his training he can do it. He's got to fend for himself now. He's got a lot to prove and that's going to make a difference to him."

Khan made the decision to box for Pakistan after being overlooked for the Great Britain elite squad and Shah believes Haroon was the victim of politics, with jealousy over Amir's success a factor in the decision.

Shah added: "There's loads of politics in this game. 'If one [Amir] does well, why should the other do well?' - that's the thing that comes to my mind. They should have let him have a fair crack at everything.

"There's nothing else left for Haroon to do with the ABA now. Fighting for Pakistan has given him the hunger. He will probably go to the Asian Games with them in November, then we will see what happens from there."

Khan resembled his older brother in his novice days with his lightning movement and eagerness to finish the job, which looked spectacular although it left him open for counter shots from fighters better equipped than Elias.

Khan faces a possible third round meeting with one of GB elite squad members Tommy Stubbs or Welshman Andrew Selby, and he is clearly determined to take his chance to make his point.

"This is a big opportunity for me to prove the critics wrong in England and I'm glad I've done that," added Khan. "My job is to perform in the ring and I didn't let it get to me. I'm not going to bother about the bad publicity I've had."

Bradley Saunders and Anthony Ogogo got England's boxing campaign off to an explosive start as both fighters scored early stoppage victories over their outclassed opponents.

Saunders dumped Dominic Boatswain of Grenada on the canvas twice for a first round victory, then shrugged off the expectations which come with being gold medal favourite in the light-welterweight division.

Saunders said: "This is all about me coming out and performing. I think I've made my own pressure in the past. But my results speak for themselves and people expect a lot from you."

Ogogo took marginally longer to dispose of Andrew Kometa of the Kiribati Islands. Ogogo slammed home right hands to force Kometa to take two standing counts before the referee waved the fight off with Ogogo 8-0 ahead.

Ogogo said: "The first one's always going to be nerve-racking but everyone gets nervous, from Ricky Hatton to Lennox Lewis. It was a massive occasion for me and I tried to keep a level head.

"This is my big chance. I've been dreaming, sleeping, eating and drinking the Commonwealth Games. I want to become known as a boxing superstar rather for any of the other stuff I've done."

Northern Ireland had two winners out of three on the first day with middleweight Eamonn O'Kane a 5-0 winner over Ranil Jayathilkage of Sri Lanka and Mark O'Hara beating Namibia's Mikka Shonena 6-3 at flyweight.

Welsh middleweight Keiran Harding beat Habib Ahmed of Ghana to move into the second round and the Ebbw Vale youngster paid tribute to the help provided by returning veteran Kevin Evans.

"Kevin's been great to have around the team and giving us all tips on how to succeed in an environment like this," said Harding. "It's great to be a part of such a strong squad and having Kevin as a father figure can only be a benefit for us."

Harding's team-mate Chris Jenkins went down 7-0 to Louis Colin of Mauritius. Northern Ireland light-welterweight Steven Donnelly was unpicked 10-0 by Australian Luke Woods.

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