This was not Amir Khan at his best. Having dropped opponent Samuel Vargas with his blurring speed of hand in the second round, the former light-welterweight world champion was then floored himself, but recovered to win by a unanimous points decision.
In that moment he fell to the canvas, 8000 adoring fans witnessed the narrative of Khan’s 33 victories in his thirteen-year career. Thrilling, exciting, but always vulnerable.
Khan won the fight comfortably on points, over twelve rounds, 119-108, 119-109 and 118-110 on the judges’ cards, in what was an eliminator for the World Boxing Association welterweight title held by Manny Pacquiao. British rival Kell Brook was also ringside, itching to get his arch foe to sign to fight in December.
Khan recovered from that second round blemish to scrape to a win, but Khan fights have never been, nor will they ever be, dull.
“I’m happy with the performance, apart from being caught in the second round,” said Khan, who admitted his carelessness.
“I need to go back to the drawing board and improve myself. I’d love to fight Kell Brook. I’ll sit down with Eddie Hearn and if it makes sense financially, I want the fight. I respect Kell.”
Privately Khan wants to fight the Filipino idol Manny Pacquiao, but the 31-year-old looked ordinary here against an opponent in Vargas he was expected to beat.
The hand speed was there, the fitness was there, but this was not meant to be a dog fight for the British sporting hero.
There was clearly ring rust, the right shapes looked limited, and it begs the question of what Khan really does have left after a career in which he has had many tough fights, has earned fame and a £30 million pound, yet has not imprinted his fast hands on the sport as he might have wanted to at the start of that paid career.
This was no easy night, and it leaves question marks over just how much being horribly knocked out by Saul Canelo Alvarez took out of his body and synapses at middleweight two-and-a-half years ago.
However, the Khan bandwagon will march on. He’s just too big a star to walk away.