By Chris McKenna, courtesy of The Daily Star
AMIR KHAN will have to prove he is not a shot fighter on Saturday as he eyes up a big December pay day.
The former light-welterweight world champion returns to the ring for the first time in two years when he takes on little-known Canadian Phil Lo Greco.
Khan, 31, is the red-hot favourite for the clash at Liverpool’s Echo Arena and he is out to impress in his first appearance since he was knocked out by Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez in May 2016.
The Bolton fighter, who has lost four of his 35 bouts, signed a three-fight deal with new promoter Eddie Hearn earlier this year with plans for a pay-per-view fight in December.
Khan will be out again in August if he wins on Saturday before a potential blockbuster with British rival Kell Brook at Manchester Arena or a trip to the States to face one of the welterweight world champions.
But his new promoter has warned him he must look back to his best to ensure his comeback is not a false dawn.
“The old Amir Khan would be a very strong favourite for this fight, but as it happens he is just a strong favourite,” said Hearn.
“We don’t know if he’s the same fighter as he was two years ago. If he is, he can beat Lo Greco comfortably.
“I think in terms of being 31, he has had a few knockouts, but he has lived quite well. He’s not a big drinker, he doesn’t binge with food, I think he is fresh. Saturday will tell us how fresh.
“The thing is we just don’t know. He could be better than ever or he could be a shot fighter. The plan is to fight Saturday, then fight at the end of August, then the big one in December.”
A clash with Brook would likely be the most lucrative but negotiating a deal between the pair will still be problematic for Hearn even though he now promotes both.
If a deal cannot be struck, then American star Terence Crawford, who fights WBO welterweight champion Jeff Horn in June, is one possible foe for December.
While IBF champion Errol Spence Jnr, WBC and WBA title holder Keith Thurman and ring legend Manny Pacquiao remain options.
Hearn added: “American promoters Top Rank have been on saying, ‘We would love to do Crawford against Khan’.
“Spence would fight him, Thurman would fight him, Brook would fight him, Pacquiao would fight him.
“It’s just a case of if we get him the fights which does he want. My dream scenario would be for him to fight Kell Brook in December.
“You could do it in Manchester Arena. You could do it maybe at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff. I don’t mind it in Manchester Arena.
“People think that fight is automatically done but it’s not.
“Kell will be there Saturday, it’s a fight he wants and I think it’s a fight Amir wants but the deal has to be right.”