By Chris Robinson
Just a month ago it seemed like a forgone conclusion that we were going to be seeing a summer showdown between junior welterweight champions Amir Khan and Timothy Bradley. Bradley had won an uninspiring ten-round technical nod over Devon Alexander in January while Khan easily controlled Ireland's Paul McCloskey for six rounds in his native England before the fight was stopped in the sixth after a clash of heads forced a nasty gash that saw McCloskey unfit to continue.
The two sides went to the negotiating table but slowly the fight appeared to be unraveling, with Bradley turning his head at amounts of $1.3 million and later $1.4 million when Khan's side upped the ante. Khan-Bradley seemed like the perfect fight to be made for each man in proving their superiority at 140 pounds but after months of trash talk from them towards one another it doesn't seem likely we will be seeing them face off anytime soon.
Bradley has always shown a willingness to face all comers and this doesn't appear to be a case of cowardness at all. The likely case is that the Palm Springs fighter, who is set to be a free agent from promoter Gary Shaw in the coming weeks, is likely entertaining the thought of a possible fight with WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao sometime in 2012, a fight that would the most financially-rewarding of his life.
That leaves Khan scrambling for a dance partner for his July 23rd return to the States, with the two front runners appearing to be newly-minted interim WBA and WBO champion Robert 'The Ghost' Guerrero and always-outspoken IBF junior welterweight boss Zab Judah. Of course there is also a bit of a dark horse in the running to land a shot at Khan, an individual who knows him all too well.
On December 11th of last year Marcos 'Chino' Maidana gave Khan all he could handle for twelve riveting rounds inside of the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada. Despite being dropped from a wicked body shot in the first round, the sturdy Argentinean adapted and ending up having great success over the second half of the fight, even having Khan on the brink of disaster in a memorable tenth round.
Maidana may have ended up losing a close unanimous decision but you can tell how much pride he has when reflecting back on his performance that night.
"I did what I always do," Maidana told me bluntly from his bases in Argentina. "Fighting from opening bell until the end. I might not be the most skillful boxer but I fight. It was an exciting fight with Khan last December. That’s why it was picked as best fight of the year. But it was a narrow decision and I think I deserved a rematch."
Sure enough that is the fight Maidana is eyeing. Despite coming off of an equally exciting victory over Tijuana's Erik Morales last month, Maidana didn't like the offer presented for that particular rematch and after some rationalizing he figured 'Why not Khan again?'.
With his victory over Morales, Maidana once again seized the interim WBA strap that he used to hold and is again in line to face Khan at the Bolton star's convenience. It may not been what many had been expecting or even hoping for but as Maidana points out, rules are rules and if the dollars are right he would welcome a second fight.
"Whether he likes it or not I am his mandatory challenger," Maidana claimed. "So I hope we meet again before next September or he will have to resign the title and publicly admit that he does not want a rematch. If he doesn’t want it, fine with me. I’m always ready to fight anyone for the right money."
Maidana added that he had been on vacation in his hometown of Margarita spending time with family and friends for a few weeks after the Morales fight but that he is now back training in Buenos Aires. He would love another fight, be it Khan or whoever, to take place in either August or September, and he is always staying in top shape.
Maidana had spent time training in Las Vegas for his last two fights but will be looking to shake things up a bit for his next camp.
"We are thinking of Puerto Rico or Big Bear in California. Both are great places for a fighter to really focus. We’ll make a decision as soon as we have a fight date."