LAS VEGAS // Question marks hang over Amir Khan's career today after suffering a devastating fourth-round TKO defeat in Las Vegas to unfancied contender Danny Garcia.
Khan was knocked down three times by the Philadelphia fighter, putting a exclamation point on a torrid six months for the 25-year-old Brit.
It means he loses the WBA title returned to him just days ago following the controversy surrounding his defeat to Lamont Peterson last year, as the undefeated Garcia unifies the title with his own WBC strap.
And with a second successive defeat in Las Vegas, the career of the former Olympic star suffered a blow as powerful as the hook Garcia floored him with at the Mandalay Bay.
"It wasn't my night," the 25-year-old admitted after the fight.
"After watching the replays a little bit I thought I was coming in with my hands down and Danny took advantage
"I respect Danny, he was countering very well against me.
"I was a little surprised the referee stopped it. I thought he was going to let us continue. My mind was clear and I thought my legs were okay but I respect the referee, the judges and the commission, maybe they made the right call."
The Bolton fighter came into the fight with a record of 26-2 with 18 knockout wins, while Garcia boasted 23 wins - 14 via KO - and no defeats.
Despite Khan coming off a defeat in his last bout, the Briton was a heavy betting favourite and the majority of the 7,000-strong crowd were in his corner.
Khan flew out of the blocks and barely a second had elapsed when he landed a beautiful left hook-right hand combination.
He easily won the first round with sharp, attacking jabs and hooks, while Garcia had to settle for two right crosses and a naughty low blow, for which he was warned.
Garcia landed a nice right in the second but Khan retaliated immediately. Khan also won the second but had to take sporadic body shots and a strong overhand right from the Philadelphian.
Garcia was cut over his right eye in the round, though it was unclear how the wound was inflicted.
Khan landed an excellent lead left in the third which Garcia shrugged off well, while the American was also having occasional successes himself.
The fight then exploded as a counter left from Garcia floored Khan hard. He got to his feet quickly but was clearly devoid of his senses.
Referee Kenny Bayless scandalously allowed it to go on - Khan had no idea where he was - and the Briton was saved by the bell as Garcia threw a massive right and a left on the bell had Khan struggling again.
After a minute to recover Khan looked in better shape for the fourth. What followed was one of the most brutal rounds in recent memory.
Garcia threw huge power shots in search of the stoppage and Khan was soon down again, this time from a right, which saw him trip on the rope.
Khan somehow survived and amazingly began firing shots back as the two men stood and traded crashing blows. Khan actually goaded Garcia in and landed a good shot himself, hitting Garcia with an uppercut and left.
Khan was then down a third time when he was caught by a glancing left and right to the temple. Again he got up quickly, but when Bayless stared into his eyes, the referee finally decided enough was enough.
"We knew Khan was going to come out fast because he thought I had no power but I waited and stepped up to use the power and speed I have, and it worked." Garcia said after the fight.
"I was going to fight until the death, just like he did. Now I want to continue to fight the best."