Hellraiser Boxing News | Amir Khan: Back To Business
Amir Khan is back! After two years away from the ring, and a trip to the jungle, the popular Bolton man will face off against Phil Lo Greco. Matt Lewis takes an early look at the fight set for April 21st in Liverpool.
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by Matt Lewis
Since the 7th of May 2016, welterweight and the divisions either side have undergone a changing of the guard of sorts. The likes of Floyd Mayweather, Tim Bradley and Miguel Cotto have called time on illustrious careers, while Manny Pacquiao still battles on, but as a shadow of his former self. Fighters who were still hot property that Summer (Danny Garcia, Andre Berto, Viktor Postol and Kell Brook amongst others) are now all rebuilding after high profile losses, and new title holders in Errol Spence and Jeff Horn look to improve on their fledging reigns as world champion. Terence Crawford, new to welterweight, has other plans for them.
It is therefore safe to say that, after nearly a two year layoff, Amir Khan will find boxing a changed sport. He returns to the ring on April 21st against Canadian Phil Lo Greco, who has never been in a scheduled 12 rounder before and has come up short against the top operators every time he has faced them. His only victories of note (against Brandon Hoskins, Rafael Cobos and Slawomir Ziemlweics) simultaneously tell you nothing, and all you need to know, about the calibre of fighter he has beaten in his 12 year career. A shut-out defeat to Shawn Porter in 2013 was soon followed by a knockout loss to Errol Spence Jr, and since then Lo Greco has gone 2-1 against opponents plucked from a familiar obscurity.
This doesn't mean he boxes badly; it just means that Khan is, quite rightly, the heavy favourite. At 31 and with a little ring rust to shed, his speed may have started to lose it's edge, but he is surely still quick enough to deal with someone like Lo Greco, who is courageous but somewhat unrefined. Indeed, if Khan's rapid punching can flummox someone like Canelo Alvarez (at least for 5 rounds) then the Canadian, who is 3-3 in his last six, shouldn't pose much of a threat.
One observer at Boxing News 24 claimed that, “even a ring rusty Khan will be boxing circles around the slow-as-molasses Lo Greco”, while Boxing News has described 'The Italian Sensation' as being “everything Amir Khan looks for in a comeback opponent.” He's certainly everything Eddie Hearn looks for in a marketing tool; the pair nearly came to blows at a press conference after Khan threw water into his opponent's face, and since then they have been going through the time-honoured process of whipping up a media storm on Twitter to sell the fight.
Of course, this was never going to be a hard sell with someone like Khan as one of the combatants, and naturally a little drama will only fuel public interest. But... as always... the boxing community has to take such drama with a pinch of salt, and it would appear that we are learning to do so. The anti-climax of Mayweather-Pacquiao after a sensational build up has since made everyone wary that they weren't always buying what they wanted to be sold to them, and Khan vs Lo Greco is already showing signs of being built into something it simply isn't.
Whittling it down to basic facts, losing is not an option for Khan, especially when winning would be the first step on the way back to centre stage; a return to the MGM Grands and the Mandalay Bays and the million dollar pay days, which he could earn against a number of potential opponents. Kell Brook is the obvious choice: both are going into their next fights coming off destructive losses, Khan to Alvarez and Brook to Errol Spence, and although these defeats may have cooled matters between them somewhat, the fight would still surely prove to be one of the biggest all British showdowns in recent years.
For Lo Greco, it would surely be one of the greatest upsets in recent memory. Khan is still one of the fastest fighters around his weight class, and although his chin does have an 'off' button somewhere, Lo Greco is unlikely to be the man skilled enough to push it. If he does, the 33 year old will claim the biggest scalp of his career, and potentially move toward something special. That could be a career high payday against another welterweight contender, but in the upside-down world of boxing matchmaking, one can imagine him facing off against new champion Lucas Martin Matthysse for the Argentinian's first defence if the dates line up.
Eddie Hearn has put an interesting card together in support of Khan's return: Sean Dodd defends his commonwealth lightweight title against Tommy Coyle, Ryan Mulcahy and Bilal Rehman (both undefeated at 10-0) face off for the former's Central Area super-lightweight belt, while Conor Benn, Natasha Jonas, and Tom Farrell still wait on confirmed opponents. Anthony Fowler and Scott Fitzgerald, both talented amateurs, will also appear on the show.
Posted: 6th Feb 2018
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