By Keith Idec
Amir Khan wants nothing more than to defeat Lamont Peterson on Dec. 10 and move on to a junior welterweight championship unification fight against Timothy Bradley.
But if Khan can’t get the unbeaten Bradley to commit to fighting him, the British star will move up to welterweight after facing Peterson.
“It just depends, seeing how things go after this fight,” Khan said. “I was thinking of moving up to 147. But if that one fight is still there for me, then it’s worth me staying at this division. If not, then I’ll move up to 147.”
The 5-foot-10 Khan can comfortably make the 140-pound limit for defenses of his IBF and WBA titles, but beyond Bradley he doesn’t see much reason to remain at junior welterweight.
“It’s not because I have trouble making the weight,” Khan said. “I can still make 140. It’s just that the challenges are not there and I just need a new motivation. I want to face these fighters [at 147] and be amongst different names. That’s what’s going to drive me. We’ll just see what happens after this fight. Bradley might man up and might take the fight. But if not, then we’ll be moving up to 147.”
Khan (26-1, 18 KOs) was tentatively scheduled to box Bradley (28-0, 12 KOs, 1 NC) on July 23 in Las Vegas, but the unification fight didn’t materialize. Bradley turned down an offer of at least $1.4 million to fight Khan, according to his former co-promoter, Gary Shaw, who has since sued Bradley for breach of contract.
Khan instead fought former two-division champion Zab Judah (41-7, 28 KOs, 2 NC) that night in what amounted to a mismatch. The 24-year-old Khan stopped Judah, then 33, with a body shot in the fifth round at Mandalay Bay Events Center.
The 28-year-old Bradley, of Cathedral City, Calif., stopped 40-year-old Cuban southpaw Joel Casamayor (38-6-1, 22 KOs) in his most recent fight, a predictably one-sided, eighth-round TKO on the Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez undercard Nov. 12 in Las Vegas. Khan recalled Monday how he confronted Bradley the day before Bradley beat Casamayor, as Bradley left a weigh-in at MGM Grand.
“I saw him after his weigh-in and he walked past me,” Khan said. “He was walking towards me, but he wouldn’t look at me. He knew I was there and I just said something to him. I said something like, ‘When are you gonna grow some balls and stand up and take the fight against me?’ He just didn’t look at me again. I mean, he must’ve heard me because the people behind him, I think it was his father or his trainer was there, and they heard what I said.
“But at the end of the day he stayed quiet and he just went ahead. I didn’t want to make myself look stupid, because I really think I’m the bigger draw in the division. But I just wanted to make him realize and make him know that, ‘Look, I’m not scared.’ I’m the one who wants the fight and he needs to man up and take the fight. But now, you know, we’ve got another name in front of us. We’ve got Lamont Peterson to focus on. So if the fight happens or it doesn’t happen, I don’t care because at the end of the day I offered the fight to Bradley, and the world knows that, and he refused it. So I’m just going to go on and move on.”
Freddie Roach, Khan’s trainer, preferred to focus on Khan’s fight against Peterson (29-1-1, 15 KOs), who will encounter Khan in his hometown of Washington, D.C., in an HBO main event.
“We’re thinking about Peterson right now, in my opinion,” Roach said. “Who cares about Bradley at this point?”
Keith Idec covers boxing for the Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com.