Updated: Friday, 13th September 2019 @ 2:25pm

Inside Sport: Amir Khan needs to respond like a champion if he is to reclaim belts from Lamont Peterson

Inside Sport: Amir Khan needs to respond like a champion if he is to reclaim belts from Lamont Peterson

By Jack Travers

Boxing can be such a cruel sport. It is dog-eat-dog and you can never rest on your laurels when fighting, especially at the top level with world titles on the line.

Was Amir Khan guilty of underestimating Lamont Peterson before the latter's win in Washington DC on Saturday night? Was he too preoccupied looking ahead to the so-called ‘super fights’ against people like Floyd Mayweather Jnr? Did he get his tactics wrong on the night?

It is probably fair to say yes to all three of these questions although it is worth noting that many respected judges claim he still did enough on the night to get the nod.

It is a setback for Khan, who was on a fast-track to the biggest fights with the biggest names, but it is by no means a terminal one. His future career is still bright as not many 25-year-olds have won world titles or fought as many established fighters as he has.

There is no doubt in my mind that Khan will be back. Whether he will be back fighting the biggest names in boxing within a year is slightly less certain.

Khan can however take comfort from the past as he is not the first and won’t be the last top level boxer to suffer a shock defeat. The most important thing for him to do now is not sit around mulling this fight over.

He, and this is where his coach Freddie Roach will come in, needs to take note of where he went wrong in DC, take what positives there are and focus on his next bout – which will probably be against Peterson again but in a neutral location. He shouldn’t brood over the referee who he claimed cost him the fight. What’s done is done and he needs to bounce back right away.

The great Sugar Ray Leonard once lost a unanimous decision to Roberto Duran in The Brawl in Montreal in 1980 – his first professional loss. It was a fight he was widely expected to win but he made a similar mistake to Khan – he fought his opponent’s fight and paid the price.

Now this fight was no Leonard Duran I (Duran had a 71-1 record at the time so was a formidable opponent and future hall of famer) but it was similar in many ways. Khan, like Leonard, was the faster fighter who only showed glimpses of his best tactic – throw rapid combinations and move.

Like Sugar Ray 21 years ago, he decided to stand toe-to-toe for much of the fight and it soon became apparent that Peterson was taking control. The points taken off Khan for pushing might well have turned the decision but there is no doubting that Khan’s tactics were a risk and he was ultimately punished for this gamble.

Khan has been forced to learn the hard way but there is no reason why he can’t respond to defeat like Leonard did (he didn’t lose again until an ill-fated comeback in 1991).

Most athletes have to overcome some setbacks in their career. Khan has had two but the mark of a man and an athlete is how he responds to these setbacks and my money is on Khan to show us he is made of stern stuff over the next year or two.