Amir Khan returns to prime-time boxing tomorrow evening, Saturday, as he collides with American southpaw Devon Alexander for the WBC silver welterweight trinket on a star-studded bill at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Victory is essential if Khan is to realise his ambitions of having an explosive 2015 as he could become one of the sport’s top earners next year.
Should he, as is expected, slay Devon ‘the Great’, then one of three super fights could await him next summer.
1: a May-per-view showdown with boxing’s pound-for-pound ring legend Floyd Mayweather Jnr, 2: a slowly-simmering grudge match with former sparring partner and Wildcard Boxing Club stable-mate Manny Pacquiao or 3: (and a fight that will always likely be there for the Briton) an all-England ruckus with fellow welter Kell Brook, which could feasibly sell-out Wembley Stadium.
Those fights are in order of Khan’s preference but it is because of this pre-fight focus of his that Amir could be found guilty of looking past a legitimate opponent.
The last time Khan overlooked a foe he suffered a blemish on his ledger, as Lamont Peterson edged him over 12 threes in Washington DC three years ago. In Khan’s subsequent match, he was conclusively kayoed by the superior Danny Garcia.
Since then, he has not faced an elite-level opponent and he will need to use all of the ring craft he has learned from head coach Virgil Hunter if he is to negate Alexander’s best assets – speed of hand, counter-punching ability, precision, technique and timing – as the Englishman steps up for the first time at welterweight and the first time since suffering back-to-back defeats.
Khan, though, has his own strengths – his mitts are even faster than Alexander’s, he can use good foot movement to make best use of the seldom lulls in activity between his near-constant flurrying and he has a cool, crisp, orthodox jab.
Alexander lacks the true concussive power that can crush Khan’s dreams… few left hooks at 140-pounds are harder than Garcia’s – the shot that frazzled Amir two years ago – but speed and timing can also dent punch resistance, so the main key to victory for Khan will be to ensure he sticks to Hunter’s game-plan and fights with his head, rather than his heart.
Khan is no doubt loving seeing his name in lights down the Vegas strip but if he’s not careful, he’ll end up on his arse looking up at them.
Prediction: Khan to prevail in a 117-111 type decision.