By Sean Crose
So yeah, it looks like Britain’s Amir Khan has won the “Mayweather Sweepstakes.” No announcement has been made yet, but the Englishman won the Twitter poll Floyd held against him and Argentina’s Marcos Maidana. What’s more, a fight with the European fan favorite promises to bring in a lot of Euros for Floyd, since Khan is enormously popular in England and elsewhere.
Lastly – and maybe most importantly – Khan doesn’t seem to pose the same threat to Mayweather as, say, Manny Pacquiao does. Or Timothy Bradley does. Or Erislandy Lara does. Or…
Still, Khan is the man Mayweather has apparently chosen and there’s no point in boxing’s worldwide fan base to keep wringing its collective hands over it. Let’s just accept that Floyd doesn’t want to take risks anymore…and wonder if he actually may have underestimated Mr. Khan.
First things first, Khan is fast. Lighting fast. “Oh, wow,” fast. Perhaps even faster than Mayweather. The guy can also be accurate with his shots. Oh, and he can hit. Unlike a lot of speedy fighters, Khan likes to move in.
Of course, there’s accusations against the man’s chin, accusations Khan adamantly denies. But it’s not Khan’s chin which should be the main concern. It’s his overall performance against quality competition. Danny Garcia, Lamont Peterson, and Marcos Maidana have all either beaten the man outright or given him a hell of a run.
None of Mayweather’s opponents, on the other hand, have really made him struggle. At least none have since Jose Luis Castillo. Mosley caught him – once – but Floyd still fought on successfully, ultimately winning the bout with ease. Miguel Cotto clearly gave Floyd some kind of trouble, as well, since the pound for pound king has become overly cautious since their 2012 meeting. Floyd was never in danger of losing that bout, though. He won the thing, hands down.
So, how can Khan possibly best Floyd when they meet in May? Well, let’s think about it. In order to emerge victorious, Khan will have to really employ his considerable assets for all they’re worth. That means he’s going to have to test his speed early on in order to find out whether or not Floyd can keep up with him.
He’ll also have to be aggressive. Trainer Virgil Hunter may have made Khan a more patient fighter in recent outings, but that may not be the way to go against Floyd. Vegas judges seem to love high punch counts, after all. If the bout goes the full distance, Khan will need to have been exceedingly aggressive. He’ll have had to have been a whirlwind of speed and motion for twelve full rounds.
Most importantly, though, Khan must be disciplined. He cannot, under any circumstances, let Floyd knock him out. That’s right, folks – Floyd can indeed knock people out. He doesn’t do it much, but he can. Just ask Ricky Hatton. Or Victor Ortiz. Thing is, he generally doesn’t need to. If Khan gives the guy an opening, however…
Here’s the truth – and it may come as a bit of a surprise: Khan has a better chance of beating Floyd than Saul Alvarez ever did. That speed of Khan’s helps even the playing field – a lot. Did anyone believe for a second, for instance, that Alvarez had anything going for him other than his heart and size last September? The guy had his hands full with Austin Trout, after all. How was he going to keep up with the flash that is Mayweather?
Khan, on the other hand, may well be able to keep up with Floyd. Will he be able to beat him, though? Honestly now, does Khan really have a legitimate shot to dethrone the world’s pound for pound great? I’d argue that he does, but not much of one. Floyd, in my mind, is just too professional and slick in the ring. In the end, he’ll just end up frustrating the British superstar.
That doesn’t mean Khan will let Floyd have an easy go of it, however. Chances are this may be Floyd’s toughest fight in years. Who knows? Perhaps Mayweather’s age will finally start to show. Or perhaps Khan will simply have his number. Lots of things are possible.
Even the upset of the decade.