When Amir Khan (28-3, 19 KOs) began his professional boxing career in 2005 he possessed a combination of speed and charisma which brought back memories of fellow Brit Prince Nassim Hamed. After a Manny Pacquiao (54-5, 38 KOs) left hook sent Ricky Hatton (35-3, 32 KOs) into early retirement in 2009, it appeared as if Khan would be the heir to the British boxing throne. Instead, after losing two out of his last four he’s been forced to campaign for big fights based on his skill set rather than his achievements.
Khan began his career winning 18 straight before hitting a speed bump in Breidis Prescott (or shall I say being hit by one). Prescott (27-5, 20 KOs) knocked the silver medalist out in round one of a fight that Khan was heavily favored to win. The Bolton native rebounded by defeating Andriy Kotelnik (31-4, 13 KOs) to win the WBA junior welterweight title. He would go on to defend that belt five times, mostly against B-level or past their prime fighters and barely survived his only true test against Marcos Maidana (34-3, 31 KOs).
When negotiations failed to produce a unification bout with then WBO junior welterweight champ Timothy Bradley (31-0, 12 KOs), Khan took on a juiced up Lamont Peterson (31-2, 16 KOs) and lost a controversial split decision. He was then stopped by Danny Garcia (27-0, 16 KOs) in round four of their title fight. Following the back to back defeats he fired hall of fame trainer Freddie Roach and hired Virgil Hunter. In his lone contest this year he returned to the United Kingdom only to struggle his way to a narrow point’s victory over bloated lightweight Julio Diaz (40-9, 29 KOs).
Yet somehow by the grace of the Queen of England herself, Khan has managed to maneuver himself to the forefront of the Floyd Mayweather (45-0, 26 KOs) sweepstakes. He’s ditched a proposed December 7 bout with Devon Alexander (25-1, 14 KOs) and instead is reportedly sitting tight in hopes of a May 4 fight with “Money”.
There’s no doubt that Mayweather would welcome such a contest when you consider the worth of the British pound in boxing today. He had a taste of it when he fought Hatton in 2007 and wants more before he retires. The question is, how does Golden Boy promotions convince over a million potential pay per view buyers that Khan who’s been knocked out twice and has never fought at welterweight deserves to be in the same ring as the best boxer in the world.
“The Money Team” may also be over estimating the value of a fight with Khan, who has a solid fan base but not the army that crossed the pond to witness Hatton take on Mayweather. Not the crowd that chanted “there’s only one Ricky Hatton” while their fighter was on his back staring up at the lights of the MGM.
In a move unworthy of a cash cow, Khan was dropped from Britain’s premier boxing carrier Sky Sports in 2011, after PPV sales for his fight with Paul McCloskey (24-2, 12 KOs) didn’t project well. And when he fought Garcia in Las Vegas the bout sold an unimpressive 3,147 tickets.
Khan lacks the blue collar appeal of Hatton, who spent most of his time in between fights at a pub watching his beloved Manchester City soccer club play. There’s also something to be said about the 26-year-old who entered the game with the intentions of retiring by 28, as if to use the sport as nothing more than a bridge to other avenues. Now, instead of earning a marquee spot by boxing the sports top fighters, he’s talking his way there.
By dodging Alexander It seems as if Khan has abandoned any efforts to show fans that he is whom they thought he was coming out of the 2004 Olympics. Instead, he’d rather tell anyone who would listen why he’s different from the 45 opponents Mayweather’s already beaten. And unfortunately his strategy appears to be working. Reports are circulating that he’ll likely be chosen to oppose “Money” in May. That being said it’ll be an uphill battle to try and convince the public that he’s anything more than a rest stop on Mayweather’s journey to someone bigger in 2014. Hopefully that someone is a certain Filipino congressman. If it is then the ends justify the means and we can probably deal with the occasional mirage that is Amir Khan.