Amir Khan insisted he could not go on after a low blow brought his WBO welterweight title challenge against Terence Crawford to a crashing halt.
The fight was stopped in the sixth round at Madison Square Garden after the technical knockout, handing the American the right to retain the belt and raising a cacophony of boos for Khan.
Speaking to ESPN in the ring as jeers rained down, Khan said: “First of all I want to apologise to all of the fans. The fight was just getting interesting.
“Terence is a great fighter, you know I’m not taking anything away from him. I now realise why he’s one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world.
“I’m a good boxer but he was showcasing great skill, great movement. I was caught with a shot right below the belt and I could feel it. I was in pain.”
Khan said he could feel the blow in his stomach and his legs “kind of seized” as a result.
He said: “I couldn’t continue, I could not continue. I’m not one to give up any fight. I’ll fight to the end, you have to knock me out to get me to give up you know. I was hit with a hard shot below the belt.”
Crawford was unequivocal that his shot was above the belt and the decision to withdraw was not Khan’s alone.
The Briton suffered a knockdown in the opening round and was taking regular punishment, struggling to stay in the contest and nursing what appeared to be an injury to his right hand.
He told ESPN in the ring: “First of all it wasn’t a low blow. And second of all (Khan’s trainer) Virgil (Hunter) knew the fight was going in a bad direction and saved his fighter before anything bad happened to him.”
Hunter said safety was a key concern and Khan was “incapacitated” by the shot, but suggested the Briton was starting to get into the fight.
The trainer told BBC Radio 5 Live: “The crowd will always be bloodthirsty and want to see a dramatic ending but you have to look out for the safety of the fighter. He’s not the kind of fighter to make things up. I believe he was incapacitated.
“We knew we were behind but Amir was starting to work things out and pick up his rhythm.”
As for Khan’s future, Hunter said his performance against Crawford was not “the type of beating that says he should retire”.
“He showed he could move – his legs aren’t gone – but he fought a hell of a champion tonight. I will be honest with him when I think it’s time to retire,” he said.
Provided by Press Association Sport
Amir Khan’s dream of finally proving himself one of the finest fighters in the world ended in a controversial defeat when he was stopped in the sixth round after a low blow by the great Terence Crawford at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Fighting to also become a two-weight world champion by adding the WBO welterweight title to his impressive list of honours, Khan had long pursued this opportunity which has likely ended his career at the highest level, leaving him with few remaining lucrative options.
A domestic fight with long-term rival Kell Brook will appeal until either retires, but for the 32-year-old Khan – groomed for greatness since winning an Olympic silver medal in 2004 aged 17 – his successful time as an attraction in the US may have passed.
He suffered a knockdown in the opening round and was thereafter taking regular punishment, struggling to stay in the contest and nursing what appeared to be an injury to his right hand.
When Crawford then landed that horrendous low blow he appeared to be taking advantage of the opportunity to take a lengthy recovery.
The fight was instead strangely stopped after 47 seconds of the sixth when his corner indicated he could no longer continue, despite him being entitled to far longer before fighting on.
Alongside Ukraine’s Vasyl Lomachenko, Crawford has long been considered one of the world’s two leading fighters, and he demonstrated why by largely easing in front until then.
Khan’s finest chance came in him rediscovering the composure and discipline with which he excelled in once beating Devon Alexander and Luis Collazo before that devastating knockout by Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, in the hope that his speed and volume would prove too much for Crawford to negate.
Instead the champion, 31, effortlessly used his ring IQ and sense of distance and timing to read Khan and essentially take control from that first-round knockdown.
Khan had made an encouraging start when he landed with his still-impressive speed, but he was hurt by a powerful right hand and then floored by a left hook, and thereafter largely left clinging on.
Instead of pursuing the immediate stoppage Crawford remained measured, and continued to instead pick his challenger off.
In the fourth he hurt Khan to both head and body, threatening to stop him on his feet, and while Khan typically fought back he lacked the same conviction and it was around then that he began to struggle with his right hand.
Further lefts and rights troubled Khan as he unexpectedly resisted another knockdown in the fifth but in the sixth – after he had already complained to his trainer Virgil Hunter about his hand – came the low blow that, while sickening, also represented an unsatisfactory conclusion and prompted boos.
A fifth defeat – and the fourth inside the distance – demonstrated there is little question that Khan is a fighter in decline. Regardless of whether he fights on, it may be the nature of this stoppage and no longer that Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao eluded him when he was at his peak, that proves his biggest regret.
There were earlier convincing victories for promising Americans Shakur Stevenson and Teofimo Lopez, taking each closer to fighting for a world title. Stevenson earned a unanimous decision over 10 rounds against Christopher Diaz, and Lopez stopped Edis Tatli in five.
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Jarrell Miller says he has “never knowingly taken any banned substance” and intends to appeal against the decision to revoke his licence following an adverse doping test.
Miller, who was due to fight British heavyweight Anthony Joshua in his native New York on June 1, produced an adverse result for a metabolic modulator in testing carried out on March 20 by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA).
He retains the right to request another sample be tested and to reapply for a licence, and has now stated his intention to “vigorously appeal” against the decision.
“I am absolutely devastated upon hearing the news my boxing licence has been revoked in NY State and I will be vigorously appealing this decision,” he wrote on Instagram.
“I have NEVER knowingly taken any banned substance and when I found out the news last night I was totally shocked.
“My team and I stand for integrity, decency and honesty and together we will stand to fight this with everything we have!”
Joshua’s camp are still working towards a fight at Madison Square Garden on June 1.
Miller continued: “This was a voluntary test that I was very happy to do and these results came just one week after another voluntary test that I had taken which was completely clean.
“I refuse to just lie down and let my dream be taken away from me when I know in my heart that I’ve done nothing wrong.
“Fifteen years of hard work. I’m a WARRIOR .. I don’t need a banned substance.
“Remember, don’t believe everything you hear and see. The facts will prevail and I shall be vindicated. I don’t have anything to hide and the truth will make itself known.”
Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn revealed that a new opponent for the Briton’s IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight title defence would be announced early next week.
“Everybody’s on the hustle now to try and get a shot at Anthony Joshua so we’ve got to make sure we get the right guy,” Hearn told Sky Sports News.
“This is predominantly the Anthony Joshua show but we still need that dance partner, that credible guy, that great fight that can light up that arena on June 1.
“And it’s a massive night for Anthony, it’s his American debut, it’s Madison Square Garden, it’s a night that will be remembered for a long time in his career so it’s important that we find the right guy.
“Going through everything today, tomorrow, and over the weekend, we have some meetings, a lot of people flying in as well, and early next week there will be an announcement for a new opponent, subject to Jarrell Miller’s B sample being tested as well.
“But history will tell us that it’s unusual to see a change in that sample.”