Over and rout! Awesome Amir Khan blasts to victory in 76 seconds

Ultimately, after all the fevered speculation, provocative rhetoric and manic hype, only the big fight itself has the capacity to change the world. Consider it changed.

Amir Khan transformed his own future on this cold, wet Saturday night in Newcastle to that of a super-champion in the making.

In so doing, this principled young man struck several more blows for the cause of Anglo-Muslim harmony in this country. For good measure, he also declared as official the rebirth of British boxing.

It took him 76 seconds.

Enlarge   Amir Khan

Hammered: Amir Khan smashes a left jab into Salita¿s face

That was all this fiercely British son of immigrant Pakistani parents needed to give America its own terrifying taste of shock and awe, as he blew away their New York challenger for his world light-welterweight title.

There was no time to blink, yet no sooner was the destruction of Dimitriy Salita over than lavish comparisons with Manny Pacquaio, the Filipino phenomenon who reigns as Planet Earth’s pound-for-pound fighter supreme, began reverberating across the Atlantic.

Freddie Roach, the Einstein of the noble art, was almost salivating at the prospect of training the future as well as the present king of the ring.

The Pacman has just won an astounding seventh world title at different weights.

Roach now predicts that the boy Khan will also defy nature and ‘become a superstar
as world champion across multiple divisions.’

Roach is not given to flights of fancy. So we listen when he says that Khan, the Athens Olympic silver medallist who moved up from lightweight only three fights ago, can climb all the way to the middleweight crown.

With the help of Roach’s master-classes in his Los Angeles gym, anything is possible. In one year and four fights since moving his base camp to California, Khan has come back from a 54-second knockout defeat by Colombian thumper Breidis Prescott to defeat Mexico legend Marco Antonio Barrera, then win his first world title, now defend that WBA belt successfully against America’s great Jewish hope.

Salita walked tall into Newcastle having never been off his feet in the ring and unbeaten in 31 fights. He left in a crumpled heap.

Dmitriy Salita

Knocked out: Dmitriy Salita is stopped by Amir Khan in Newcastle

The first two punches of this brief encounter were the left jab which set a startled Salita back on his heels and the following right cross which dumped him on his shorts.

The old one-two. Less than 10 seconds gone. Shock and awe.

With Roach, Pacquaio and now Khan, it is all about speed to exploit power. For Salita, reality arrived in a blur.

‘I’ve never fought anyone so fast,’ he said. ‘I never saw the punches coming.’

He sure felt them. The next barrage sat him in a corner.

Khan had warned that his left is now as concussive as his right. Proof was immediately forthcoming. Bang. The challenger was down and out.

Can the world be changed in little more than a minute?

Before he went to work on Saturday’s night shift Khan had addressed, with restraint and statesmanship beyond his years, the racial element among boxing’s boo boys.

Newcastle, in keeping with this city’s abiding love of sport, packed its Metro Radio Arena with 10,000 fans of all races and creeds and gave deafening voice in support
of a British hero.

The inference had been that Khan was on the brink of abandoning England,
promoter Frank Warren and all, to fight out of Hollywood full time.

Amir Khan

On top of the world: Amir Khan delighted the Newcastle crowd on Saturday night

With that appreciation still ringing in his ears, Khan said: ‘It is every boxer’s dream to fight in Madison Square Garden and Las Vegas, but maybe now that can wait until later next year.

‘After this, I feel like fighting here again.’

Warren promptly earmarked the football ground in Khan’s home town of Bolton, saying: ‘Of course Amir will go and take America by storm at some point. But he hasn’t yet experienced the thrill of fighting in a stadium here.’

That is less likely now to be at Manchester City, Ricky Hatton’s spiritual home, huge an event though a clash of these two Brits would be.

Even if the Hitman does risk coming out of retirement for one last hurrah, Khan in this form is hardly the opponent to provide him with the farewell victory with which he aches to expunge his knockouts by Pacquaio and Floyd Mayweather Jr.

A potential challenger for Khan in Bolton is Juan Diaz, the Tex-Mex former undisputed world lightweight champion who has also just moved up to light-welter.

Tougher assignments would then await him in the US, but Pacquaio will not be one of them, not if Roach has his way.

Amir Khan

Too easy: The crowd in Newcastle only had a brief view of Amir Khan

Rather, his pair of supermen will try to help each other reach yet more dizzying heights.

Pacquaio’s megafight with pound-for-pound rival Mayweather is virtually set for Vegas in March.

The Pacman is ready to go back into training on January 2, with Khan joining him for their lightning sparring sessions from the first week of February, ‘after I’ve had time to chill out in Bolton with my family and friends and my mobile phone, which Freddie keeps away from me before fights’.

Khan can take his winter break warmed by the knowledge that he has brought down the curtain on Fight Year 2009 by knocking down the door to a regalvanised future for British prizefighting.

Hatton’s defeat at the fists of Pacquaio and Joe Calzaghe’s retirement had left the hard old game in an uncertain condition. But first Carl Froch, then David Haye with his slaying of Nikolai Valuev, raised hope.

Then came this uplifting bill of Warren’s on Tyneside. Native East Ender Kevin Mitchell grew into a world title contender with a smaller but more animated copy of Haye’s hit-and-run beating of Valuev by out-boxing Khan’s bete noire, the big-hitting Prescott.

Beijing Olympians James DeGale, Frankie Gavin and Billy Joe Saunders all saw off the most testing of their five professional opponents thus far with such conviction that their promoter is talking of title fights in 2010.

Then came the prodigious Khan - and not only Salita but much of the lingering prejudice and any residual pessimism was gone in 76 seconds.

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