I was literally in the process of writing a post setting out possible opponents for Floyd Mayweather and listing Amir Khan as an option but a somewhat unlikely one.
Saying that a Floyd Mayweather Jr -Amir Khan fight would “have a huge crowd of Brits showing up wherever the fight would take place,” Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefersaid that he would “have to see if that fight can be done.”
“With Amir, there is no secret that he and his team are pursuing a Mayweather fight, and Floyd Mayweather, right now, is enjoying his time off. We’re working on it to see if, in fact, it can be done.”
I’d stress this doesn’t necessarily make it a done deal; Mayweather Jr has floated possible opponent names in the past to see what the reaction is only to choose someone else (Devon Alexander was the last to get that treatment), but with Schaefer and Golden Boy saying it rather than someone from the immediate vicinity of Mayweather Jr this is bit more solid a commitment.
When the first serious reports of this bout happening appeared back in early October, I put my thoughts down and frankly there’s nothing that’s happened in the interim to change them significantly.
Khan’s last two appearances at world level are two loses, first a narrow and admittedly somewhat controversial decision loss to Lamont Peterson and then a brutal stoppage to Danny Garcia. As much as Khan likes to try to downplay these (and his recent efforts are to mention Peterson’s later failed drug test and claim that Garcia “got lucky”) those images are burnt onto boxing fans minds. Since then Khan has changed trainers (from Freddy Roach to Virgil Hunter), won a routine and one-sided bout with untested prospect Carlos Molina (not the more famous 154lbs title holder but his namesake) and just about escaped with a victory over gatekeeper Julio Diaz in a bout where he was hurt repeatedly and dropped. Frankly Khan hasn’t been impressive in any of his recent bouts and boxing fans know and remember that. We’re often treated like fools but we’re not fools. Not in today’s world. Many people criticise Mayweather’s choice of opponents but as a general rule he picks someone coming off an impressive performance. Alvarez had just beaten the best opponent he’d then faced while unifying against Trout, Ortiz and Guerrero had both beaten Berto and even Mosley was coming off his demolition of Margarito.
Khan had none of that. He was coming off just about beating Julio Diaz.
The fact is right now Khan isn’t a deserving opponent for Mayweather. Perhaps if he’d actually faced and beaten Devon Alexander in impressive fashion he’d be at least somewhat worthy, but that bout fell apart (with Alexander now facing undefeated prospect Shawn Porter in the near future). Even then, I’m not entirely convinced he was the most deserving man for the job; Danny Garcia has talked of moving to 147lbs and the winner of Maidana/Broner will have to be in the conversation (although Broner has said he would never face Mayweather and I suspect Golden Boy would like to see that bout mature) as will Alexander if he beats Porter. Perhaps more outlandishly Tim Bradley is supposedly coming to the end of his promotional deal with Top Rank and if he does leave Arum then he would become an option.
In terms of what he brings to a bout outside money, Khan’s a long way down the pecking list. And I’m not convinced that money would even be that great. Mayweather generally likes to face Hispanic opponents so he can tap into the Mexican-American fanbase in the US and I assume the idea is that while Khan cannot offer that, he can offer the lucrative UK TV market. But Khan isn’t a particularly loved figure in the UK boxing scene (and not even in the “love to hate him” way Mayweather operates) and certainly brings nothing like the attention Hatton does, despite Schaefer’s words. It will get attention over here… it’s Mayweather against a Brit after all… but I don’t see millions staying awake till 5am like we did with Hatton.
People will of course start talking about Khan’s speed… hell, to quote a bit from my half-written piece, “some fans are intrigued by the idea of Mayweather facing someone as fast (or possibly even faster) as him for the first time since his bout with Zab Judah in 2006” and you can see Schaefer do that already. What he and the others who suggest it conveniently forget to mention is that for all that speed Khan wasn’t able to land significant shots to the likes of Julio Diaz. When he took on Paul McCloskey… the only guy he’s faced who has a similar defensive style to Mayweather, albeit far worse… he struggled to land cleanly at all, punching at air for most of the rounds and winning through his own workrate and McCloskey’s lack of activity. Speed means little without accuracy or technique and over recent bouts Khan has lacked both.
I’m still not convinced this actually happens and isn’t just Golden Boy stirring the pot before springing another name on us, but if it does happen it’s one of the most disappointing opponents Mayweather has faced in recent times, arguably since he first moved to welterweight and took on Shamba Mitchell or Henry Bruseles at 140lbs. I’ve defended Mayweather’s matchmaking in the past, especially against the accusations that he’s ducked fighters (where most of the examples are frankly pretty laughable) but there’s little to defend here.