One of Britain’s more widely read newspapers, The Daily Express, is reporting tonight that the world’s undisputed pound-for-pound number one, Floyd Mayweather, is to fight Amir Khan on May the third of 2014. Speculation has been rife that Khan would be matched with Mayweather after his making considerable noise about meeting “Money” during his professional association with Freddie Roach and Manny Pacquiao, an association that ended when Khan changed trainers after his brutal defeat at the hands of Danny Garcia.
That brutal defeat, one of three suffered by Amir Khan, is the main reason this announcement—if true—is mired in controversy. Khan is talented, speedy, hits reasonably hard and has the size to fill out firmly at 147 lbs., the weight at which the fight is likely to be staged. He is also extremely vulnerable, short of both punch resistance and, to a lesser degree, stamina.
Khan’s losses don’t tell the whole story. He has improved in terms of strategy since his savage first round knockout at the hands of lightweight puncher Breidis Prescott in 2008, but the struggle he faced against Lamont Peterson in late 2011 was, in part, due to a tactical inflexibility as well as his innate vulnerability. This vulnerability was underlined firmly in summer of 2012 when he was beaten—one might even say outclassed—by light-welterweight king Danny Garcia, who bounced him off the canvas and stopped him in just four rounds. The tale o’ woe does not end with losses. Khan suffered terribly to secure one of the few marquee wins of his career, against Marcos Maidana in 2010 and was even dropped by powder-puff puncher Willie Lomond on route to a knockout victory.
Nevertheless, Khan came again over and again, and for this he deserves his credit. Currently ranked number four at 140 lbs. by the Transnational Boxing Board, he has beaten Carlos Molina and Julio Diaz in his last two fights and maintains relevance in his division. He’s a professional, and a good one, and that is not in doubt.
What is in doubt is his viability as a potential Mayweather opponent. In short, he has none. Fighting Mayweather is not only worth millions, it is also the most difficult proposition that exists in boxing. Feeding him with an underqualified opponent is inexcusable for several reasons. Firstly, Mayweather has enough financial and sporting clout to draw any name in the sport to the second corner. Secondly, at thirty-six years of age, time for him to cement his legacy, already considerable, is running out. Finally, nobody but the best will be able to provide fans with anything other than a prolonged spar. Anyone who doubts this need only take a look at Mayweather’s one-sided defeat of Saul Alvarez this September.
Khan is, however, in many ways, a reasonable foe for boxing’s cash-cow. He’s fast, and because Mayweather doesn’t tend to score one-punch knockouts, Khan’s strengths may line up neatly against Money’s weaknesses. But he has not earned this opportunity, should it come. He is 2-2 in his last four, and one of the men who has defeated him in a one-sided knockout defeat, Danny Garcia, is also a possible problem for Mayweather—and he’s earned the shot.
The Daily Express is a middling UK newspaper. It is neither a redtop-tabloid, not to be trusted, nor a broadsheet, a source close to impeccable. It stands in the middle-ground. Other sources are either reporting the story as it was presented in the Daily Express or reporting associated noise, including the words of Golden Boy’s chief executive Richard Schaefer who is said to be “hopeful” that the fight could be made.
If it is made, it is another harsh indictment of boxing’s ability to deliver the best fights. Khan is under-qualified and other, more qualified fighters—amongst them Danny Garcia, the winner of the imminent Manny Pacquiao-Brandon Rios fight, and Juan Manuel Marquez conqueror Timothy Bradley—are idling by their respective telephones awaiting the call to face Mayweather.
Khan, who was involved in a minor car-crash recently, is quiet. So, too, is Mayweather. It is also true that Mayweather has form in this area, flirting with the unacceptable Devon Alexander before agreeing to match Alvarez. Whilst Mayweather-Khan might promise a little more excitement than Mayweather-Alexander, it is not in keeping with the spirit of competition.
Or that old fashioned notion only rarely to be found intruding on the dealings of promoters and alphabet governing bodies—justice.