Features

Could Amir Khan Be ONE Championship's Next Big Star?

August 31, 2017

Veteran commentator, analyst, and presenter, Steve Dawson, gives his take on an upcoming lightweight clash at ONE CHAMPIONSHIP: SHANGHAI on Saturday, 2 September.

This Saturday, 2 September, at the Shanghai Oriental Sports Center, Amir Khan looks to extend his professional record to 8-2. A familiar name for quite some time already on ONE Championship cards, Khan is reaching a point where the direction of his career will soon become clear.

The Singaporean is on a four-bout winning streak, and in a good position to make a big impact on a crowded lightweight division in 2018. To do that, he’ll need to take on an athlete of championship-challenging caliber, and push on from there.

With that in mind, the best way to assess Khan’s title-winning potential, is to review his sole ONE Championship loss. The setback came against Thai star Shannon Wiratchai, and there are several reasons why this bout shouldn’t be seen as overly indicative.

Firstly, the contest took place over two years ago, and Khan has clearly improved his skill set since then.

Secondly, the context is clearer now than it was at that time. Wiratchai has subsequently won all of his four bouts by stoppage, three of them in the first round, one of which was against the ever-dangerous and energetic Peter Davis. The Thai is now in great shape to challenge champion Eduard Folayang in 2018, and might even be in the frame for any defense the Filipino makes before the year ends.

Thirdly, the last opponent for both men was Rajinder Singh Meena, and although the Thai stopped him in the first round, it took Khan less than 90 seconds to do the same. And lastly, When Khan met Wiratchai in 2015, they battled to a very close split decision. A rematch, although it may not make best sense for the Thai, would be a justifiable contest.

Ahead of what should then be the Singaporean’s breakout bout, comes a match on ONE Championship’s historic first event in Shanghai against Jaroslav Jartim (8-6-1). This will be the Czech’s second battle in the ONE Championship cage, having been overwhelmed by Honorio Banario on his debut.

Banario is on a tear that will surely see him challenge for a title again soon, if it were not held by his Team Lakay brother Folayang. “The Rock” was dominating Jartim before smashing a highlight-reel left hook to finish their contest in the first round of their meeting in April of this year.

Prior to that, Jartim had won three in a row, all inside the distance. His three KOs and three submissions demonstrate an array of skills that can make him a threat, should Khan be anything less than extremely well prepared.

Khan has become an efficient finisher and a second-round stoppage is a reasonable target for fans of the 22-year-old to hope for. After all, the young lion owns the most knockouts in ONE Championship history, and is tied for the most wins as well.

The Evolve MMA product has a big following in Singapore, but there’s no reason why he can’t use the platform of a high-profile event in Shanghai to generate some fans in China, and around the world.

Steve Dawson is a ONE Championship presenter and commentator, a Fox Sports presenter and an author of sporting biographies. He can be found on Twitter & Instagram as @Gulasahi and on Facebook as Steve Dawson.

Shanghai | 2 September | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | PPV: Official Livestream at oneppv.com