Nearly two weeks ago, Amir Khan and Terence Crawford entered the eminent ring at Madison Square Garden for their moment of glory, and the conclusion was anything but dignified or desirable.
Crawford, determined to defend his welterweight title, knocked Khan to the mat in round one and by all accounts dominated the following two rounds. Khan seemed to muster a second wind in the fourth and fifth rounds, exchanging blows and landing punches, but then came the disappointment.
In the beginning of the sixth round Crawford came in with a left uppercut that resulted in a (presumably) accidental low-blow. Khan hunched over in pain and was given the allotted five minutes to recover, but ultimately Khan’s trainer, Virgil Hunter, said his fighter could not continue and Crawford maintained his title on a TKO.
There’s been plenty of debate in the media and online about whether the low-blow actually hit Khan in the “meat and two veg”, if Khan technically quit (which Khan disputes), and whether Khan “threw” the fight to save himself embarrassment. Regardless, both fighters and fans left the showdown disappointed. That is because groin injuries and protection are STILL a very real issue in combat sports. The fact that the WBO has low-blow recovery times, and the ref enacted it, is testament to how serious these injuries can be and how many fighters are not equipped with proper protection. Even if a fighter were to be struck in the lower hip flexor muscles, if they are not wearing proper protection this could easily cause their cup and groin protection to shift and result in further injury to the fighter.
Ultimately, we will never know what Khan’s motives were in saying he could not go on, or, what he felt from that blow. What we do know is that as fans, groin stoppage is not what we come to fights to see. The disappointing outcome of a match between two respected fighters, an olympian and a champion, is a reminder that wearing proper groin protection not only can make-or-break a fighter, but can also make-or-break the fight.