By Sean Crose
Amir Khan is unique in that he has talent to burn, yet he has a difficult time employing that talent in high pressure situations. He made Marcos Maidana look like a sparing partner during the first round of their fight, yet found himself in a war as the bout raged on. He then allowed himself to be caught with a howitzer during his battle with Danny Garcia and ended up down and out on his back. If that weren’t enough he didn’t do much to impress his critics during his last fight with Julio Diaz, either. Lastly, he skipped a chance to battle Devon Alexander in order to win the “Mayweather Sweepstakes” last year, only to end up looking like a fool.
Now, under the guidance of trainer Virgil Hunter, Khan prepares to battle Luis Collazo on the undercard of Saturday’s Mayweather-Maidana tuneup – I, uh, mean superfight. Collazo is no chump. He gave Ricky Hatton all he could handle a while back and just this past January put once rising star Victor Ortiz somewhere close to Neptune in a shocking and overwhelming performance at the Barclay’s Center. In other words, Khan’s got a real opponent on his hands as opposed to some tomato can designed to make him look good.
First things first, then: can Khan win?
Of course he can win. Will he, though? I think so – so long as Hunter has succeeded in improving the man’s defense. See, I’m of the mind that Khan’s defense may be the one and only thing that keeps him from the top of the heap. He’s the fastest fighter out there at 140, perhaps even faster than Manny and Floyd. And I think he might be able to be just as fast, or nearly as fast, at 147. What’s more, the guy’s aggressive. Real aggressive. He can hit, too. He’s got nineteen knockouts under his belt, after all.
Still, it may have been Khan’s very aggressiveness which had gotten him into trouble in the past. Sure, he could be exciting, but like Manny Pacquiao and Wladimir Klitschko, Khan proved he could be flattened if nailed by the right punch or combination. Therefore, Hunter had the obligation during camp to make the man become less hitable.
In other words, the noted trainer should have helped morph Khan into a fighter which, while aggressive, is always going to keep his vulnerability in mind. Such self-awareness has paid off incredibly well for Klitschko. It’s also paid off handsomely for Pacquiao in recent battles, too.
Will Khan be a more self-aware fighter on Saturday, then? Will he be the fighter he should be – lightning fast and aggressive, but also intelligent? We’ll all find out soon enough. What then, though? Say Khan ends up looking great against Collazo, say he carries the night – will Mayweather, provided he defeats Maidana, be quick to choose Khan as his next opponent?
The Daily Mail has reported that Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaeffer has claimed that a sharp looking Khan can expect a fight with Mayweather in the future. Sounds great, right? Not so fast. First of all, it will be up to Mayweather, not fans and analysts, to decide what a “good” performance from Khan is. Maybe I’m wrong, but I feel that an impressive Khan could actually frighten Mayweather. And Mayweather has made it clear he’s never going to step into the ring with someone who frightens him. Sadly, he’s just not that kind of champion. In other words, Floyd won’t be too keen on fighting the Khan who floored Maidana with a body blow during the first round of their matchup.
Look at it this way: Floyd has openly stated he’s now sees boxing as a risk-reward business. And a great looking Khan is a serious risk. Does anyone really think Mayweather will put his perfect record on the line against a Khan who seems back on the fast track to success? Sure, Khan is now a part of Al Haymon’s crew, but so are Danny Garcia and Adrien Broner, two lucrative pugs who (at the moment, at least) would be far easier opponents than a prime Khan would be. As ridiculous as it sounds, Khan may hurt his chances of finally fighting Mayweather if he looks fantastic on Saturday.
Yup, the plight of Amir Khan is an odd one indeed. Then again, so is the plight of boxing during the waning days of the Mayweather era.