Amir Khan is tired of waiting around. He wants someone, somewhere to fork over a high seven-figure or low eight-figure payday for his ring efforts– and he wants it now.
Could it be that the Bolton, Lancashire native is trying to cash out on a career that has gone nowhere near as smoothly as many believed it would?
When the talented 17-year-old Khan won silver in the 2004 Athens games, becoming the youngest British Olympic boxing medalist in history, big things were expected.
Khan had the charisma and raw athleticism necessary to take him to the very top of the sport, but much to the consternation of everyone around him, he has yet to put it all together in one cohesive package.
After growing up in the game, Amir Khan is still very much less than the sum of his parts as a fighter. He has fast hands, fast feet, world class athleticism, but is still, at 28 years of age with ten years of professional experience, mentally inconsistent.
Khan is still, essentially, the same fighter he was at 22. He’s still winning his biggest fights on talent, alone, using his speed to stay out of harm’s way and his size to tie up his opposition on the inside while scoring with god-given hand speed when at a safe distance.
Unfortunately for Khan, he’s also still the same fighter who was caught by Breidis Prescott and Danny Garcia and had no answer for how to turn things around.
The combination of world class talent and world class weakness makes for a compelling ring presence, but it hardly speaks of a fighter on the verge of elite-level stardom, alongside fighters like Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather.
Maybe Khan’s not trying to cash out with one final payday at all as he calls out guys like Mayweather and Pacquiao. Maybe he realizes that, given his up and down history, the only way to get the acclaim he feels he deserves is by beating a legend.
But Khan has had a tough time convincing the sport that he’s a worthy opponent for either Floyd or Manny.
Even when winning a fan poll to determine Mayweather’s next opponent in early 2014, Mayweather passed on the bout to take on Marcos Maidana, instead. Khan had registered a victory over Maidana in 2010, but he still carried the baggage of two unavenged KO losses, a decision loss to Lamont Peterson, and some shaky moments against the aged Julio Diaz in what was meant to be a “stay busy” bout.
The perception of Khan is that he’s weak, vulnerable, and, therefore, unworthy, for the truly elite. The only way to change that perception is if he legitimately beats (or brings war to) a guy like Mayweather or Pacquiao.
And that is the Catch-22 of being Amir Khan. He needs the truly big win to validate his career, yet seems incapable of keeping it all together long enough to actually get the big fight.
On any given night, Khan is talented enough to beat anyone in his division– maybe even Mayweather or Pacquiao– but he’s more Jay Cutler than Tom Brady, capable of some thrilling highlights, but lacking the consistency that goes hand-in-hand with talent at the elite level.
So, Khan will keep screaming for Mayweather and Pacquiao while beating guys like Luis Collazo and Devon Alexander. Eventually he may get his wish and corner one of this era’s elites. He’ll make his big money, but won’t likely become an elite, even if he scores an unlikely upset.
Khan is simply not consistent enough, not versatile enough to be an elite. And at 28, he already seems set in his ways. The best even trainer Virgil Hunter has been able to do with Khan is to turn him back into the punch, grab, and dash fighter who first emerged on the U.S. scene in 2010.
Sure, Amir Khan looks like a star. He certainly carries himself like a star. And if you see the right highlight package, you would think that he also fights like a star.
But Khan hasn’t really changed in the ring, hasn’t really gotten better. Everyone knows it, maybe even Khan, himself. And that’s why he truly feels the need to fight Mayweather or Pacquiao as soon as possible– knock off a legend to become one or, at the very least, pad his retirement nest egg for the imminent end of the line.