Amir Khan "picked up a few million fans" with compelling victory
Khan's unanimous-decision victory, in front of more than 4,000 fans at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, featured a 10th round for the ages in which Maidana first rocked Khan with a thunderous right hand and continued to beat upon the champion but couldn't knock him down.
"He went from having one of the most questionable chins in boxing to having the best chin," promoter Richard Schaefer said of Khan (24-1), who'd been dogged by questions after suffering a first-round knockout loss in 2008. "He's erased all questions. To take these flush shots, he wobbled, but he wouldn't go down.
"People wondered when the going got tough, did he have the will to win? He showed he's a true champion and picked up a few million fans."
Khan's performance is a needed jolt to boxing, which has Manny Pacquiao, a legally challenged Floyd Mayweather Jr. and. . . .
Now, the sport has Khan in the thick of its best division, junior-welterweight, which will feature another title bout Jan. 29 when Palm Springs' Timothy Bradley ventures to the Silverdome in Michigan to fight unbeaten Devon Alexander.
"Our division's the cream of the crop," Bradley said after watching the Khan-Maidana epic in person.
Schaefer said he'll work to stage a Khan fight in April in the United Kingdom against someone like veteran Zab Judah or Oxnard's Victor Ortiz, who fought Lamont Peterson to a disputed draw Saturday.
From there, Schaefer said he'll push for Khan to come to Los Angeles in July and fight the Bradley-Alexander winner at Staples Center or an expanded, 8,000-seat Nokia Theatre.
"Staples is my first choice for that fight," Schaefer said.
Maidana showed up, and said with 27 knockouts in 30 fights, he's anticipating the challenge of fighting the Bradley-Alexander loser next year.
"You think Amir Khan wants a rematch with him?" the Argentine boxer's trainer Miguel Diaz asked. "This fight was great for the sport. I said it when it was first made: two young fighters in the prime of their career, with no one being too careful or worried about money or their next fight. This is how our business should be. These two young lions really went at it, and my guy fought the last rounds like he was in the cellar of a prison. Great night."
Photo: Amir Khan displays his WBA junior-welterweight belt alongside trainer Freddie Roach after earning a unanimous decision against Marcos Maidana on Saturday night in Las Vegas. Credit: Scott Heavey / Getty Images