Time for Khan to split
As more than one wag pointed out following Amir Khan's desperately unsatisfactory victory over Paul McCloskey in Manchester on Saturday: Henry Cooper had worse cuts shaving.
McCloskey's promoter Barry Hearn called the decision to stop the fight following an accidental clash of heads in the sixth round "the most staggering decision I've ever seen at any ring at any time anywhere in the world". And while he is surely guilty of hyperbole, boxing, once again, failed to win many friends at the MEN Arena.
The shame was not so much that the Dungiven man had been robbed - Khan, who defended his WBA light-welterweight crown for a fourth time, had won every round. The shame was that 18,000 fans, an estimated 6,000 of them over from Ireland, had their night cut short on the whim of a queasy referee. This was meant to be world championship boxing, not a boxercise class.
McCloskey's corner should at least have been allowed to work on the cut. And the sight of the challenger parading around the ring after the chaos had subsided, cut barely noticeable, his face entirely clear of blood, should have been an embarrassment to Luis Pabon and the ringside doctor, on whose advice he decided to call a halt to the fight.
For a few uncomfortable minutes, it looked like the frustration of McCloskey's travelling fans might spill over. And while the throwing of missiles - if you can call plastic cups and Irish flags missiles - is not ideal if you are seated ringside, they had every right to feel short-changed. As one supporter put it: "I won't be paying for boxing again."
Khan (right) secured an unsatisfactory points decision over McCloskey
While Hearn's fury was understandable, calls for a rematch on the grounds of "unfinished business" were hopelessly optimistic. In truth, Hearn looked more likely to land a meaningful punch in the ensuing melee than McCloskey had during the actual fight. And for all McCloskey's quirky elusiveness and commendable punch-resistance, Khan was beginning to dominate when the end suddenly came.
If Khan thought his immediate future in the sport lay away from his native Britain before this fight, then Saturday's events and the wrangling that preceded them might ensure he never fights in his homeland again.
Sky's decision to relegate the bout from pay-per-view and the subsequent decision by Khan's team to jump ship to fringe satellite channel Primetime will have persuaded Oscar de la Hoya, the world's premier promoter, that his charge's future would be brighter in the United States.
Certainly, De la Hoya will not wish to be ringside in Manchester any time soon.
De la Hoya has always been more a Vegas type of guy, while the one-sided nature of his latest world title defence will have increased Khan's belief that he is more Vegas than Manchester, too. So his next bout is likely to be a unification match with American Tim Bradley, holder of the WBC and WBO light-welterweight belts.
"We have signed a multi-year deal with [American broadcaster] HBO and Amir Khan," announced De la Hoya, as the post-fight news conference descended into chaos. "The fight that HBO wants and we want is Timothy Bradley to unify the titles."
"I feel there are levels in boxing and Tim Bradley is the same level as me," said Khan, who now has 25 wins from 26 professional fights. "We're in the world class level."
This may be so but Khan will have to tighten up if he is to become undisputed king of one of boxing's most competitive divisions. While never in trouble against McCloskey, the 24-year-old still looked wild, windy and one-dimensional at times. Unlike McCloskey, the nuggety Bradley, unbeaten in 27 fights, has the tools to take advantage.