By Mark Staniforth
While Amir Khan reportedly intends to make the next defence of his WBA light-welterweight title against Erik Morales, it would be no surprise to see the Bolton star's latest plans go up in smoke.
His stunning win over Zab Judah notwithstanding, Khan has had a frustrating time of late, with his potentially greatest rival at 140lbs, Timothy Bradley, continuing to show no inclination to get in the ring with him.
While a fight with the 34-year-old Morales, the former ferocious warrior who was written off after four straight losses in 2007, may not be ideal, it is about as good as Khan can get these days.
Besides, Morales has managed to re-establish his reputation as a top-level fighter with something still to give after pushing former Khan conquest Marcos Maidana to a majority decision loss in Las Vegas in April.
And frankly, irrespective of his recent form, the fact remains that Morales' name on the big pay-per-view billboards still sells on account of the wars with the likes of Marco Antonio Barrera which will one day send him to the Hall of Fame.
But Khan may be wise not to limber up for a Morales match just yet. First, Morales has to justify himself one more time when he faces Argentinian Luca Matthysse on the Floyd Mayweather undercard next month.
This is far from a knockover warm-up for Morales. For starters, the WBC version of the world title will be on the line, turning a prospective showdown with Khan into a more lucrative unification match.
Secondly, in Matthysse he is facing a genuine, big-punching challenger who appears to possess all the ability to make Morales think again about his quest to wring a few more nights of glory out of his career.
Twenty-six of Matthysse's 28 wins have come inside the distance, and his only losses - to Judah, whom he knocked down, in April last year, and to Devon Alexander in his last fight in June, were both controversial split decisions.
In January this year, Matthysse stopped the notoriously slippery former champion DeMarcus Corley in the eighth round of their fight in Argentina, flooring Corley no fewer that eight times in the process.
Matthysse is intent on ruining Morales' best-laid plans, and he insists the chance fo fight for a world title more than makes up for any doubts he may have about heading back to fight in the US.
"Everybody knows those two losses were bad decisions against me," insisted Matthysse. "I was robbed in both of those fights. But I'm very happy now to be fighting Erik Morales for the world title.
"I know I won those fights. People know I won those fights. But when I was offered this opportunity I was very happy to come back. What better way [to prove myself] than by fighting for a world title?"
Despite a dismal run of form when at times he looked dangerously shot, Morales regrouped and convinced many critics of his enduring qualities when he pushed the hard-hitting Maidana so close in April.
But while a Morales victory over Matthysse would undoubtedly prove him correct in his assertion that he still has something left to give, the Argentinian believes it will be a different story.
"When you talk about Maidana there's no doubt he's a big, big puncher, but his boxing style is ordinary," said Matthysse. "I'm more complete in boxing. I cut the angles and use the ring much more. That the difference."
On the face of it, Khan can hardly lose next month. Morales may stack up a few more dollar signs but if Matthysse does the business in style against the Mexican then he too becomes an enticing prospect.
For all the early career concerns about Khan's chin, it is against precisely those big punchers whom it was assumed he would be steered away from that he has produced his most exhilarating performances.
Matthysse fits the bill on that score too. His name may be tough enough to spell, let alone print up on a Las Vegas billboard. But it may be a name with which British fight fans have every reason to become familiar any time soon.
Tags: Amir Khan , Erik Morales , Lucas Matthysse , Morales-Matthysse , Morales vs Matthysse