By Terence Dooley
News of the thus far unsubstantiated rumour that Floyd Mayweather could meet Amir Khan in Las Vegas on May 3 (at whatever weight Mayweather chooses and for whatever title he wants) led to the usual gnashing of teeth over what is perceived as a cynical match-up — and we all know that boxing and cynicism never jive, there is no place for it in this glorious sport — as well as cries that it would be yet another soft touch for Mayweather. Especially as the 45-0 (26) fighter is coming off a wide and handy win over Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, the guy who was lauded in some quarters, i.e. the online and print equivalents of mental wards, as the man who would finally end the American’s reign, rather than a case of Mayweather versus Carlos Baldomir redux.
Alvarez’s freight train of hype and expectation came to naught, leaving us with yet another Mayweather sweepstake, one that will be played out online and on Twitter ad nauseam until he announces his next opponent. Khan’s name has often been a part of the Mayweather lottery, so it is no surprise to hear that he could be lined up for a May meeting with “Money”.
News of Devon Alexander’s mooted December fight with Zab Judah at New York’s Barclays Center further set tongues wagging as Alexander was expected to meet Khan in an IBF title defence that month. With the winner set to meet Kell Brook, the eternal mandatory challenger for this particular crown, within 90 days.
Khan, though, recently told www.skysports.com that the fight with Alexander was part of his overall goal of securing a meeting with Mayweather. He said: “It's all about moving to that big fight against Floyd Mayweather. Hopefully getting this win against Alexander will get me into that fight. We are going back and forth to America and doing mini camps but I'm trying to spend more time there.”
During all of our recent conversations, Khan has told me that Mayweather is his long-term target, so it’s no surprise that he may be considered as an opponent and, in this case, is no doubt edging his bets in the hope of securing the big one.
Devon’s change of opponent and date led to some claims that Khan is ducking the American southpaw, which is just lazy rhetoric. A duck usually involves stepping away from a tough fight to take an easier one. Khan’s doing the exact opposite. It’s a nonsensical suggestion.
Not to mention that, when he was under consideration for a fight with Floyd earlier this year, the very excitement of it all caused Alexander himself to pick up an injury that KO’d his fight with Kell Brook, who could have accused Alexander of ducking him were it not for the fact the southpaw would have been entering into a fight with Mayweather, a superior fighter.
Throw in the fact that the very thought of Mayweather fighting Alexander is about as enticing as a night in with Ena Sharples and a bucket of Benzodiazepines and it is obvious that, out of the two, Mayweather would probably plump for a fight with Khan. Even his fiercest critics will admit that Amir brings the elusive X-Factor.
No, if Khan does take on Mayweather — and it’s still in the ‘If’ stage — then it cannot be painted as a cynical swerve on his part. As for Floyd, people have suggested that the 36-year-old is trying to lure over British punters and gain another inroad into our TV audiences by going for Khan. That’s terrible, almost as bad as taking on the fairly predictable Alvarez when the flame haired youngster was as hot as he will ever get in a bid to secure a big TV audience in the U.S. — a move that worked, clearly.
Should the fight happen it wouldn’t be the best or worst thing that’s happened to the sport. Sure, Danny Garcia may grumble, he handily out-boxed Lucas Matthysse on the undercard of Mayweather versus Alvarez and already has a win over Khan, but that’s not how it works in boxing.
Zab Judah lost to Carlos Baldomir in 2006 yet he still got Mayweather in his next fight, for good measure Mayweather then out-pointed Baldomir in the fight after that one. Boxing’s not always linear. Sometimes you have to follow the dollar trail. Mayweather versus Khan will make money.
Another position to consider is that some people look at Garcia, his seemingly crazy, but more likely very shrewd, father, his Puerto Rican heritage and Philadelphia roots and mistakenly think: ‘He’s just another straight forward pressure fighter’, and it has finally been proven beyond any doubt that this isn’t the style required to beat Mayweather.
Oscar De La Hoya’s so-called “Blueprint” is more like a “Noclueprint” when it comes to unseating the sport’s dominant fighter. Garcia’s much more than a pressure fighter, we know this, but the wider public may not appreciate it, so that’s something that could be considered when Floyd makes his next move.
As for Khan, the Bolton boxer is a former Olympic silver medalist, a multiple world titlist, has hand speed and can move quickly, not always well or to his best advantage, but quickly all the same. His defeats to Breidis Prescott, Lamont Peterson and Garica were big setbacks yet he has notched up two victories since losing to Garcia last year, Carlos Molina and Julio Diaz were overcome by 10th-round retirement and a decision respectively.
It means that, whatever you think about his recent performances, Khan could go into a showdown with Mayweather with a couple of wins under his belt and, more importantly, something different to offer the world’s best fighter. Throw in his undoubted commitment to the sport, his gutsy approach and the excitement he brings and Khan’s a good opponent.
This desire on Khan’s part to get to Mayweather may prove to be a case of ‘Be careful of what you wish for’, but the fight itself is both fistically and fiscally viable due to Khan’s profile, the fact he is not yet another straight line fighter and the issue of his hand speed, which raises the tantalising possibility that Floyd will see, or not see, something he hasn’t seen before and won’t be able to adapt. Plus if Khan can uncork a quality left jab that particular punch might also thicken the plot. Bigger fights have been sold on less than this.
So with the criticism beginning before a contract has even been signed — and bearing in mind that Alexander was in the frame early last year only for Alvarez to get the nod — we can expect a torrent of fierce online emoting should Khan secure his dream fight. Khan, though, won’t give this a thought; he went to America to raise his profile, fought a run of solid names and has shown bouncebackability — that’s what has kept him in this particular race.
It means that the man who has stumbled a few times during his journey towards Mayweather may well get himself over the finishing line. You have to commend Khan, 28-3 (19), for the grit and determination he has shown just to keep himself in the frame. What he can do in the fight itself remains to be seen, but at least we might get to see Mayweather face off against someone who offers him something different, and that’s not a bad thing.
I did something mental earlier today. With rumours flying around like so many frenetic punches I decided to contact Team Khan for their take on the weekend’s whispers. This led to a polite but firm: “No comment”, yet they confirmed that they are working on his next move. May we live in interesting times. In the meantime, wake me up when there’s movement on this one.
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