Amir Khan leads the way for another belter of a year for Bolton's boxers
BOLTON boxing superstar Amir Khan had a memorable 2013 despite just one outing in the ring.
Not only did the 27-year-old win his first fight on UK shores for two years in April, he also married American Faryal Makhdoom in New York.
Then, as the year drew to a close, Khan announced he was to become a father for the first time in 2014.
It promises to be an eventful year ahead, too, in both his private and professional lives with a big-money showdown with Floyd Mayweather Jnr edging ever closer.
The 2004 Olympic silver medallist has targeted a meeting with pound-for-pound champion Mayweather for some time and it appears his dream fight may come to fruition in Las Vegas next May.
It will certainly be a positive end to a frustrating few months for Khan who had hoped to fight earlier this month until a potential bout with Devon Alexander fell through, after an intensive training camp with trainer Virgil Hunter.
He has not boxed since his UK return at Sheffield’s Motorpoint Arena in the spring when he won a unanimous points decision against Mexican Julio Diaz.
It was a “catch-weight” 143lbs fight that gave an indication of Khan’s desire to move up to welterweight to have a shot at Mayweather and he came through what turned out to be a tough test despite hitting the canvas in round four.
And while this year has seen him add one solitary win to his record of 28 wins and just three defeats, Khan knows there is potential to be back at boxing’s top table in 2014.
There is not just one Khan on the road to more glory, either, with younger brother Haroon also making fast progress since winning on his professional debut against Brett Fidoe on the undercard of Amir’s Sheffield bill.
He has since won twice more, the most recent against Stefan Slavchev on points in Blackpool.
Another four-round contest was called off recently but the 22-year-old Commonwealth bronze medallist from 2010 remains focused on following in Amir’s footsteps in 2014.
Haroon told The Bolton News: “It has been a good year for me after turning professional. “Since winning my first fight in April, it has gone really well. “I think 2014 will be even bigger and better.
“I have said all along I want to be fighting for titles and hopefully that will happen. “If it is a regional belt that is fine by me or a British title would be great.
“I just want to keep on adding those ‘Ws’ (wins) to my record.” The Khan brothers have enjoyed personal success and Amir’s Gloves Gym has also had a noteworthy 12 months.
As the base for trainer Joe Gallagher, the gym has helped hone the talents of a hatful of title winners in 2013.
The most high-profile locally is Bury’s Scott Quigg who has become WBA world super-bantamweight champion and gone on to retain that title in Manchester in November.
There are also four Smith brothers from Liverpool all holding belts, as well as Mancunian Anthony Crolla, who have been guided to glory by Gallagher at the Prince Street base.
Bolton’s good boxing reputation continues to be enhanced away from Gloves, too.
The Halliwell-based Elite Gym has enjoyed its own successful year with local talent.
The southpaw’s record now stands at five wins from five pro fights. Heavyweight Paul Drago is another under the tutelage of former Bolton boxer Alex Matvienko at Elite.
The Lithuanian-born 29-year-old had a hat-trick of wins going into his final fight at Lancashire County Cricket Club’s Emirates Old Trafford ground on December 22.
Drago beat Tomas Mrazek on points after four rounds to end the year on a positive note having extended his record to 5-0-0.
Cruiserweight Stevie Taylor has also made a big impact with four wins, the last three by way of knockouts.
The 27-year-old hails from Darwen but is based at Elite and has a perfect record from six outings.
Meanwhile, the Jenkinson twins – from Bolton – have had contrasting fortunes in 2013.
Simon lost both of his fights in the calendar year but brother Chris, also a light middleweight, won four of an incredible 11 bouts.
He lost recently in Liverpool to Neil L Perkins but prior to that had been impressing.
With Elite and Gloves both thriving locally and also coaching the next generation at amateur level, it promises to be another successful year for Bolton’s boxing fraternity in 2014.