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The Hellraiser Weekender: Amir Khan, A New Chapter

by Adam Thorn

Often melodised as being one of the most talented boxers the United Kingdom has produced, Amir Khan has not had it easy of late. An Olympic silver medalist at only seventeen, he turned professional with Frank Warren having avenged his defeat in that Olympic final, and until running into Breidis Prescott in 2008 looked like a force of nature, building up a record of 18-0 (14). Early Amir Khan was an exciting fighter, always dangerous, never far from danger, the Prescott fight proved his talent precocious and precious. To be handled with care. That defeat sent Amir off to America, to team up with Freddie Roach, alongside whom he emerged as a force once more.

Khan captured the WBA Super Lightweight title in 2009, outscoring Andreas Kotelnik. He then obliterated Dimitry Salita in round one of his first defence and went onto defeat Paulie Malignaggi, Marcos Maidana, Paul McCloskey and Zab Judah before a controversial points loss to Lamont Peterson. In that fight, which Khan seemed to have done enough to take the win, there was a mysterious hat wearing man allegedly seen tampering wit the cards before the winner was announced. Peterson then tested positive for testosterone. How it was allowed to stay as a loss was baffling; and surely demoralising, too.

Then came Danny Garcia, and despite a good start, Khan was blasted out in similar fashion to the Prescott loss, bringing back all those doubts about his chin. Two losses in a row, one controversial, the other reputation damaging, and more background changes followed. Out went Roach, in came the defensive expert, Virgil Hunter; mastermind behind Andre Ward. Some decent wins followed, including dominant wins over Luis Collazo and Devon Alexander. But then in May 2015 a less than convincing win over Chris Algieri, followed by a lot of publicly courting Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather (and to be fair, being led on) and a year out of the ring.

“King Khan” was last seen in the ring starting brightly, again, before being stopped cold by the much bigger Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, in an ill advised move to middleweight in May 2016. Khan had been suffering hand issues in the fights prior to that loss, and again in the wake of it. He had surgery last year which he claims has resolved the issue, hopefully he is right. Fourteen wins of eighteen early in his career, but Khan has not truly knocked anyone out since Judah, hand issues will not help power.

By his own admission, Amir Khan has had something of a turbulent eighteen months since that loss to Alvarez. Despite not being in a boxing ring, the man from Bolton has had public fallings out with his family and wife. It is a shame, Khan is affable and erudite, his woes should have encouraged more sympathy that they did. After a lot of unwanted publicity, he’s keen to get back to what he does best, boxing. But questions remain; can Khan come back to being the destructive force he was? Can he fully realise a talent many doubt he had?

Speaking last week to BoxNation, Khan was training alongside his brother Haroon, at Jamie Moore’s gym, which is near to his hometown. Seeming happy and looking fit, Khan said he was, “moving forward” with his personal life, and, “looking at a December ring date” which he’d, “like to be in the UK” having not fought here for six years. Admitting he didn’t anticipate going straight back in at the deep end, Amir would be looking for the December fight to be a, “tune up”  fight with, “another in February”. Seeing Khan back in the ring would be most welcome, and the welterweight division has some exciting options available to him, but who would be potential warm up fights, and what could his big fight be next May?

Potential Tune Ups

Frankie Gavin

Assuming he fights in the United Kingdom, and wants to test himself at least a little, there are a few good options available to Khan for tune ups. Despite having been out of the ring, he’s still going to be a top level operator, and there seems little point in taking an opponent who’s simply coming in to get a hiding. In his returns from adversity in the past, Khan has not taken a knock-down opponent. So what what are his options?

Frankie Gavin

Although Frank Warren was teasing Bradley Skeete as an opponent for Khan, it is likely that Skeete would put himself in the “big fight” bracket, and realistically he is too tricky for a tune up fight, and should be looking for titles. An Englishman who would provide a good test, also has excellent amateur pedigree (like Khan), would be a draw for TV viewers and mean a shared opponent with Kell Brook, is Frankie Gavin. Brook did not struggle with the Birmingham fighter, but he’s a popular, talented man, and fighting Khan would be a good payday and great comeback choice; if not the easiest. Althoughnone of theses are flatout easy choices.

Ashley Theophane

Another fighter with an excellent international reputation, who could potentially be drawing to the end of his impressive career, Ashley Theophane. The Briton is part of the Money Mayweather team, and a fight on his home soil, against a big name like Khan could be an attractive offer, and a good test for Khan.

Mohamed Mimoune

He’s European champion, and his name is known in the UK having shocked Sam Eggington recently, is Mohamed Mimoune Would “the Problem” be one for Khan, though. Mimoune is not a noted puncher, with only two wins of his nineteen coming by stoppage. He could potentially give Khan a good workout without too much concern about the chin, if you buy the theory that he is chinny. He’d also provide a title, which would help sell the fight.

Brandon Rios

Rios is a former WBA lightweight champion, so would be a very good level, if beatable opponnent. Not to mention his awful part in the video ridiculing Freddie Roach’s Parkinson’s disease, Rios would be not only a decent test but a source of justice for Khan. Boxing is a noble sport, but one which brutally gives court to those involved. Rios would be a big sell, a good, but dangerous undertaking, and a very high key fight for a tune up.

In a similar bracket to Rios is Victor Ortiz, a rated name who probably doesn’t have as much to offer as their reputation implies. If Khan wants a selling name, Ortiz may also be a decent opponent, with a style that’ll suit Khan down to the ground. Brandon or Ortiz are perhaps a better choice for warm up number two, in February as Khan has posited, but they’re still both good level fighters, who Khan could exploit to put himself back on the map.

Potential Big Fights

Options for Khan’s planned fight in May, which he says will be a big one. Manny Pacquiao is not considered because the fight just doesn't seem likely anymore.

Kell Brook

Kell Brook

Sadly, we are still here speculating about the Khan vs Brook fight. It’s probably the fight most people, certainly in the UK, would like to see Amir have, and yet probably the least likely to be the big fight he has in May 2018. Khan versus Brook is, if it ever happens, high unlikely to be Khan’s first big fight. Realistically speaking, in terms of their legacy, both Khan and Brook need this fight. Amir will want leverage, understandably, and a belt helps that. In which case gThe best that can be said is that

Jeff Horn

Surely, although underrated, from a fighter’s perspective Jeff Horn is the weakest world welterweight champion going. He would provide a belt, a good win and a stern but willing test for Amir. There’s also no guarantee Khan would win, depending on the level of the opponent he chooses to come back against. It isn’t a glamorous fight, but a belt is a belt.

Danny Garcia

Revenge, sweet revenge. If Khan is willing to risk a lot, that being his reputation, there is no bigger “big” fight which fits within what reasonably might be attainable for a man 18 months out of the ring. A Garcia rematch is tantalising, Danny’s father drew criticism in the build up to their first fight, and the desire to correct that result, and rub salt in the wound, must tempt Khan. Garcia is still a top level operator, despite holding a belt. This one would sell.

Although a dream comeback for Amir is not a certainty, with enough luck, lack of injury and the right opponents the likelihood of one increases. With any luck King Khan could see a successful new chapter of his career.

Posted: 21st Oct 2017

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