By Chris Robinson
Later tonight, inside of the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, junior welterweight bragging rights will be on the line when British star and recently-reinstated WBA champion Amir Khan faces off with WBC champion Danny Garcia. The HBO-televised duel figures to entertain and the result of the match will go a long way in determining Khan’s ultimate resting place in the sport.
Set to watch the action from ringside will be HBO’s unofficial judge Harold Lederman, one of the biggest enthusiasts you will find in the sport. I caught up with the always-affable New York native moments before the official Khan-Garcia weigh-in, and he admitted that he is anticipating tonight’s showdown.
“Extremely so,” Lederman would state. “You’ve got to love it when you have two young guys, two hungry guys, in a fight. Either guy can win. Both guys have terrific skills, both guys have terrific amateur backgrounds, both guys have terrific professional backgrounds. It’s a very exciting night of boxing, that’s for sure.”
Khan was originally scheduled to face Lamont Peterson on May 19th but saw his rematch with the Washington, D.C. fighter fall apart after Peterson failed a pre-fight drug test. Garcia stepped in shortly thereafter to fill the void and he certainly brings a different kind of attack to the ring.
“It’s a different type of fighter, no doubt about it,” Lederman said when comparing Garcia to Peterson. “At least Lamont Peterson and Danny Garcia are both right-handed guys. Amir doesn’t have to make tremendous adjustments. But Amir’s predicting a knockout. I don’t know if he will. Danny Garcia’s a very good fighter who we really haven’t see get knocked around too badly.
“Danny seems to improve with each and every fight; he’s beaten some good fighters in Nate Campbell and Kendall Holt, and certainly Erik Morales,” Lederman continued. “He won a tremendous amount of amateur titles. Philadelphia fighter and he talks about that very, very often. There’s nothing tougher than the gyms in Philadelphia, that’s for sure.”
Around this time last year, Khan was getting ready for his bout with then-IBF champion Zab Judah, who he would stop in five rounds. That win helped to bolster Khan’s status and there were whispers of a possible showdown with Floyd Mayweather someday taking place.
Peterson would ruin any immediate thoughts of such a notion with his upset over Khan last December, but Lederman feels that Amir could be in position to land a fight with Floyd if successful against Garcia.
“Amir and Floyd Mayweather certainly is a possibility, there’s no doubt about it,” Lederman stated. “Everybody likes talking about it. Amir Khan’s a big, tall guy who can box, punch, move; he’d definitely have some chance with Floyd. I think he definitely would be competitive. Floyd is the best fighter today but certainly Amir would be as competitive as anybody out there."