By Frank Warren
Bolton's former world light-welter champion Amir Khan resumes his career on UK soil this evening knowing there's no margin for error. I expect the 2004 Olympic silver medallist to win by stoppage in his trumpeted homecoming against Mexico's Julio Diaz at Sheffield's Motorpoint Arena. His 33 year old California based opponent has been stopped five times previously. However, any slip ups will see 'King Khan's' earning capacity dip drastically and his future opportunities seriously diminish and leave him in the boxing wilderness.
There was enormous expectation when Khan joined the profession as an 18 year old, shortly after avenging his Olympic final loss to Cuba's Mario Kindelan in 2005.
But while he bagged the Commonwealth lightweight crown and a brace of world title belts up at 140lbs, Amir is yet to be considered the world's best fighter in any division, after eight years in the paid sphere.
Three defeats – two by comprehensive stoppage – have disrupted his intended procession into the pantheon of greatness. Though he is obscenely brave, this is sometimes to his detriment. Clearly his certain defensive shortcomings have left his chin more exposed than it needed to be.
One also has to question several of the career moves that he has made. His decision to uproot to coach Freddie Roach's Wild Card gym in Hollywood, following his 54 second defeat to Columbia's Breidis Prescott in 2008 removed Khan from unwanted distractions at home. However, he was always going to play second fiddle to Roach's cash cow Manny Pacquiao – the world's second highest earning athlete last year.
Inevitably this caused friction and, following back to back losses to Lamont Peterson and Danny Garcia during the last 18 months, Khan decided to bolt.
Amir is still only 26 and could yet enjoy a productive and lucrative future, having re-aligned with 2011 Trainer of the Year Virgil Hunter in Oakland.
The retired probation officer is definitely more taskmaster than cheerleader. A renowned defensive specialist, Hunter has mentored Andre Ward – once Olympic champion, now the world's premier super-middleweight – since the age of nine.
He is intent on building a more fluid body composition to compliment Khan's unquestionable speed and skill and also promotes a more cerebral, less instinctive mindset. Khan's capacity to protect his whiskers will ultimately determine his future.
Provided he comes through tonight, I'd advise Team Khan to factor in on a big money bang up with ex stablemate Pacquiao. It's an easy sell and the Pacman seems ripe for taking. Better Khan seizes that fight before anybody else does.
If St Helens middleweight Martin Murray captures the WBC title from Argentine master Sergio Martinez this evening, it will be the biggest win by a Brit challenging for a world title abroad. Period.
Others might throw up John H. Stracey's upset of Jose Napoles in Mexico City in the mid 70s or Lloyd Honeyghan steamrolling Donald Curry in Atlantic City a decade later. However, Napoles, then 35, was clearly on the slide while 'Honey' beat the weight-drained Texan before just a handful of people in a casino.
With tensions again simmering over the sovereignty of the Falkland Isles, our man will be challenging a leading 'pound-for-pound' contender, before an extremely hostile 40,000 assembly at a Buenos Aires soccer stadium.
The defending champion is not only the first southpaw Murray has faced, he has already reigned for three years and seen off five high calibre challengers. Fighting in his homeland for the first time in over 11 years, it is highly unlikely that Senor Martinez will concede a decision, regardless of how well Murray performs.
A stoppage win for the Brit is equally improbable. The ex-British and Commonwealth king has just 11 early wins on his 26 fight slate while the Argie hasn't lost inside schedule for over 3 years.
Murray deserves props for turning his life around after a few stints in the can during his adolescence. He is bull strong and industrial tough. Accepting this daunting assignment provides evidence that he also has a massive set of stones.
At 30, he is in his fighting prime and enters with the confidence that an unbeaten record always instills. Nevertheless, this is a mammoth ask. Best we can hope for is that he makes it to the finish post relatively unscathed and returns safely to his family with a fat cheque in his wallet.
Three of the leading champions on my roster came through in style on my promotion at Wembley Arena last weekend.
Computer punch stats revealed that WBO light-heavyweight boss chucked over a thousand punches whilst clean sweeping all 12 rounds in his tricky mandatory against a tough Kosovan. That's a seriously impressive work rate for a fighter operating in one of the heavier weight classes.
Negotiations have already commenced with Richard Schaefer, CEO at Golden Boy Promotions to showcase both 'Clev' and IBF counterpart Bernard Hopkins – currently shackled by his own mandatory obligation – on the same night in July with a view to the champions finally duking it out in a Transatlantic super fight this autumn.
Lightweight Liam Walsh was another to shine, ultimately proving too fresh and frisky for Scotland's returning former world champion Scott Harrison in a fantastic 10 rounder.
Despite nine months out to recover from injuries inflicted in a car accident, the Norfolk ticket seller was top quality. Though he's had just 14 fights, I won't be holding him back. Expect to see 'Destiny' in a world championship ring within a year.
British super-flyweight king Paul Butler showed all the hallmarks of a future star whilst adding the Commonwealth title by battering a Nigerian in just five rounds.
The 'Baby Faced Assassin' from Ellesmere Port has the skill set you'd expect from a seasoned amateur international but is a cool due, he had a haircut in his dressing room he also harbours a real spiteful streak. He's my big bet to become Britain's first ever world champion at 115lbs – he's class!
Giant Manchester heavyweight Tyson Fury is talented and thrilling in equal measure. However, his US debut against Philadelphia's Steve Cunningham at Madison Square Garden's Theater last weekend provided a clear indicator that he's not yet ready to dabble with a Klitschko.
Despite a six inch height advantage and 44lb sway in weight, the 6ft 9in traveller seemed disinterested and was again dumped heavily on the mat in round two, and reduced to sticking the nut in, in round five; a transgression that saw him docked a point.
After six completed rounds the 24 year old Brit, who fully exploits his Irish heritage, was adrift by two rounds on two official cards while the third judge had the fight level.
Ultimately, Fury's greater bulk prevailed and he closed out impressively; leaving the ex US serviceman prostrate from a single meaty right hook in round seven. Tyson then celebrated by grabbing the mic and singing like a drowning cat, mid ring!
Fury also had the problem that his trainer Uncle Peter was refused entry to the States.
Victory earned the big fella an IBF final eliminator with Bulgaria's formidable Kubrat Pulev, with the winner installed as mandatory challenger to Wladimir Klitschko. No need to rush into that one just yet.
Tags: Frank Warren