Amir Khan paid the price for fighting Lamont Peterson's fight
Amir Khan feels he was beaten by Joseph Cooper rather than Lamont Peterson here on Saturday night.
But for all his frustrations about the referee, the British fighter frittered away the chances to cancel out all arguments.
Khan may have been unlucky to be docked a point in the seventh round for an offence that referees in other parts of the world - and even other parts of the United States - would have ignored.
Knowing the third man was fussy and officious about holding and pushing, Khan should have adapted.
To commit another offence in the 12th round, a session the WBA and IBF light-welterweight champion was winning, was rash judgement.
Mike Costello BBC Radio 5 live commentator
“Khan was guilty of fighting Peterson's fight. He took needless and heavy punches unguarded on the ropes in the closing stages of tight rounds”
Paulie Malignaggi, beaten by Khan last year and commentating alongside me for BBC Radio 5 live in Washington DC, had no issue with the penalties. He, like me, thought Khan had done enough to win.
In the fifth and sixth rounds, awarded to Khan by all three judges, the 25-year-old from Bolton boxed superbly, darting in and out of the danger zone with lightning quick punches and smart footwork. He had found the template for victory and then left it on his stool at the start of the seventh.
Khan's trainer, Freddie Roach, spoke all week about how strong Peterson would be "in the pocket" and that Khan would limit the opportunities for the hometown boy to get in range.
Peterson was carefree with his head and might well have warranted a subtraction or two himself but Khan invited the hassle by allowing his opponent to get too close too often.
Frequently, Khan was guilty of fighting Peterson's fight, even if at times he came out on top. To compound his tactical error, Khan took needless and heavy punches unguarded on the ropes in the closing stages of tight rounds that might have been decided by such folly.
Khan's recent fight history
- Career record: 28-26-2
- Defeats Marco Antonia Barrera in March, 2009 by a technical decision
- In July, 2009 Khan moves up to light-welterweight and beats Andreas Kotelnik by unanimous decision
- In December, 2009 Khan defeats Dmitry Salita by technical knockout in the first round
- Khan fights in the USA for the first time in May, 2010 and beats Paulie Malignaggi in the 11th round
- Khan defeats Marcos Maidana in December, 2010
- In April, 2011 Khan wins against Paul McCloskey by a technical decision
- Khan defeats Zab Judah in Las Vegas in July, 2011
- In December, 2011 Khan loses his titles to American Lamont Peterson by split decision
Khan told me he wanted to demonstrate how he could take Peterson's best shots. I recognise that winning a mind game in mid-contest can be vital but why use such a method more than once?
Three years ago, when Joe Calzaghe beat Mikkel Kessler in a cracker in Cardiff, the fight was in the balance after eight rounds.
Calzaghe then switched from mixing it with the Dane to boxing at medium and long range, emerging a convincing winner. Sometimes champions must swap guts for guile.
This time last year I wrote how Khan seemed to have learned the knack of judging the momentum of a fight .
On the evidence here, he has not progressed. At times, he appeared to throw clusters and flurries as if he was engaged in a training session on the mitts with Roach, giving the impression he was letting the punches go come what may, rather than picking precisely where to point them.
Perhaps what we saw here in DC was what Khan has become - a man likely to be involved in contenders for 'fight of the year' but one without the ring generalship to master the very best.
He has many of the necessary components - skill, speed, courage, conditioning - and continues to dispel doubts about his chin. But he showed here that, whatever his level of talent, how he uses it is just as important.