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July 20, 2009

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Khan blasts his way to world title

BRITON Amir Khan was crowned World Boxing Association light-welterweight champion at the age of 22 on Saturday after beating Ukraine's Andreas Kotelnik with a unanimous points decision in Manchester.

Khan, who won Olympic silver at lightweight as a 17-year-old in Athens in 2004, was relentlessly on the attack all night in a performance of great confidence that relieved Kotelnik of the title in the 31-year-old's third defence.

"It's the best feeling ever, I want to thank (trainer) Freddie Roach and my team for making this happen. I'm a world champion and I'm going to enjoy it," the Briton told the BBC. "I'm still young and I've got big things to come."

Khan, in his first world title fight, looked sharp from the first bell and, though Kotelnik rocked him in the third round, the local favorite's blurringly fast combinations continually found the target to build an early lead.

The youngster, raised a few kilometers up the road in Bolton, had terrific support at the MEN Arena and gave his fans plenty to cheer with a phenomenal work rate as he rained punches on the champion.

The experienced Kotelnik, whose record was 31-2-1 coming into the fight, had been expected to come on strongly in the latter stages but was unable to launch any sort of sustained attack in the face of Khan's relentless punching.

Khan's dominance was reflected on the judges' scorecards as one made it 120-108 and the other two 118-111 in his favour.

The world title had looked some distance away when Khan's upwards progress was knocked off course last September when he was knocked out by Colombian Breidis Prescott, his only professional defeat in 21 fights, in the same ring.

He restored some confidence with victory over Mexican Marco Antonio Barrera this year and, having moved up a division, has finally delivered on all the promise he showed as an amateur.


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