After staging his first 23 fights in the British Isles, Amir Khan has become a road warrior. His fight with Lamont Peterson Saturday marks the fourth time in his last five that he has fought in America, and of those, three times the men he met were construed as local favorites -- Paul Malignaggi at Madison Square Garden, Zab Judah at Las Vegas' Mandalay Bay (Judah resides in Vegas) and now Peterson at the Convention Center in Washington, D.C.
Will Khan leave with his WBA and IBF 140-pound belts or will Peterson dethrone "King Khan" and wreak "Havoc" on his plans to jump to enter the Mayweather/Pacquiao sweepstakes at 147? Khan is a 5-1 favorite. Their CompuBox histories offer these nuggets:
Doing More With Less -- Or Is It a Mini-Slump?: Before teaming with Freddie Roach Khan was an offensive machine with little need for defense. In his five pre-Roach fights he threw 80.1 punches per round (landing 22.1 percent of them) while his opponents -- who threw just 39.1 per round -- nevertheless landed 40 percent of their power shots to Khan's 29.1 percent.
After joining Roach the offense remained but the defense tightened. In the partnership's first six fights Khan's average output was 62.8, landing 33.4 percent (overall), 26.2 percent (jabs) and 41.2 percent (power) while his foes landed a combined 21.6 percent of their 49.4 punches per round, 15.3 percent (jabs) and 25.4 percent (power).
In his last two fights against Paul McCloskey and Zab Judah, the defensive numbers remained strong but his offensive success declined. Consider:
* Judah landed 17.4 percent (overall), 9.6 percent (jabs) and 37.5 percent (power) while McCloskey's numbers were 25.3 percent (overall), 21.9 percent (jabs) and 27.7 percent (power).
* Khan, however, landed only 21.5 percent of his 56.8 punches per round against Judah (11.9 percentage points less than the first six with Roach) and landed 26.6 percent of his power shots (14.6 percentage points and 35.5 percent less).
* The McCloskey figures were similar: He landed 25.2 percent of his 58.2 punches per round (7.4 percent fewer punches and 8.2 percentage points less), 12.1 percent of his jabs (14.1 percentage points and 53.9 percent fewer) and 32.4 percent of his power shots (8.8 percentage points and 21.4 percent less).
One can rightly say that the decline is due to Judah and McCloskey being world-class southpaws. One can also say that Khan is throttling down due to weight-making stresses and to present less risk to his chin, which, despite absorbing Marcos Maidana's power, is still considered shaky by most.
Will Khan find his groove against Peterson? We'll see.
Peterson Petering Out?: For most of his seven-year career, Peterson's overwhelming volume combined with superior accuracy separated him from his peers. His numbers against Lanardo Tyner in November 2008 were typical: He landed 49.2 percent of his 82.9 punches per round (his output was 27.4 percent above the 60.2 140-pound norm), 30.8 percent of his 22.4 jabs (his accuracy was 32.5 percent better than the 20.8 percent baseline) and 56 percent of his 60.5 power punches (his accuracy was 35.8 percent better and his output 41.5 percent above standard). He out-landed Tyner 408-121 (overall), 69-13 (jabs) and 339-108 (power).
In two CompuBox-tracked fights since meeting Willy Blain in April 2009 Peterson stepped up the competition but lost what had made him special. Consider:
* In losing to Timothy Bradley, he averaged a respectable 63.8 punches per round (5.7 percent above the norm) but landed 31 percent overall, 13.9 percent of his jabs and 39.4 percent of his power shots. Bradley landed an average of 7 of 40 jabs thrown per round vs. Peterson and landed 47% of his power shots. Khan’s offense works off his jab.
* In drawing with Victor Ortiz, his output plummeted to 33.3 punches per round, landing 33.3 percent overall and 19.9 percent of his jabs. A bright spot was his 43.9 percent power punching, but he threw just 18.7 per round -- 69.1 percent fewer than against Tyner.
Peterson received encouraging news against Victor Cayo. Though he averaged 58.8 punches per round, he landed at 42.6 percent. He connected on 28 percent of his 19.3 jabs and 49.8 percent of his 39.5 power punches. He out-landed Cayo 301-167 despite throwing 122 fewer (706-828) and limited Cayo to 20 percent overall accuracy, 15 percent of his jabs and 23 percent of his power shots.
Prediction: Peterson does best against shorter fighters who brawl. The 5-10 Khan is an inch taller and will box. Khan's hand and leg speed combined with his superior power and Peterson's dent-able chin (three knockdowns in his last four fights) will result in a mid-rounds TKO.