Word out of Vegas is that Amir Khan continues to be Mayweather’s first choice for his September swan song. This despite accusations coming out of Khan’s training camp that the self-styled “best ever” is looking for a way out of the fight. Despite Khan’s latest attempt at trying to shame Mayweather into the September fight, the truth is that the proposed Mayweather-Khan fight is entirely dependent upon Khan’s performance against Chris Algieri on May 29.
Showtime is now in preliminary negotiations for Mayweather’s September fight, and executives there confirm that Khan is, in fact, on the radar. Al Haymon, advisor to both Khan and Mayweather, appears keen to make the fight happen. The only hold-up at this point is Khan’s weekend fight with Algieri. The hope is that Khan will score a dramatic win that will segue nicely into a potentially huge pay-per-view bonanza for what Mayweather is claiming publicly will be his last fight. Sources within the Money Team, however, contradict the notion that this will be his last fight, suggesting that in selling the September fight as Mayweather’s retirement fight, it will generate more interest than usual.
The hope is that with a stellar Khan performance against a limited Algieri, the fight can be sold. Mayweather sources also confirm that there is concern over Khan’s fighting style. While Khan does bring in heavy international and growing U.S. fan bases, he has evolved into a somewhat problematic fighter. That is, since leaving Freddie Roach and the Wild Card Gym for Virgil Hunter’s Northern California-based gym, Khan has become a bit overly cautious and given to holding when he perceives danger. While all fighters are trained to hold when under duress or in order to catch their breath, Khan appears to be all too keen to hold when even the slightest danger presents itself. Holding, on the order Khan demonstrates, is clearly suggestive of deep-seated fear – bad news for any fighter. Everything changes when one fights afraid.
While Khan continues trying to shame Mayweather into the September fight, Showtime executives, Haymon himself and the Money Team, all immune from such amateurish tactics, would like to see a new and more offense-minded Khan – less anxious and keen to hold. In fact, Haymon selected the relatively light-hitting, sacrificial lamb Algieri for the express purpose of giving Khan the breathing room he needs in order to impose his sometimes dramatic offensive arsenal. When Khan is right mentally and is not afraid of getting caught with counter-shots, he is an incredibly imposing offensive juggernaut. There are very few fighters in the fight game who can match him for speed, accuracy and power when he chooses to go to war.
The problem for Khan is less a physical and technical one than a mental one. The one glaring physical problem he does have, however ,is formidable indeed. His chin has been exposed as one of the more problematic amongst the so-called “elite” fighters of the division. The dramatic fashion in which he has been knocked out in the past is a major concern for his training team. The relatively recent habit of incessant and unnecessary holding is a direct result of a personal loss of faith in his own ability to endure significant punches to the head. Khan’s former trainer Roach feels that it was a mistake for Khan to fire him, as his offensive production has gone down.
The problem with a defense-first approach for Khan is that, unlike Money May, Khan’s strengths as an elite fighter, and what got him to the dance, as it were, are his incredible offensive abilities. Under his current training team, Khan is now a lesser fighter; certainly less exciting and with all the holding, actually quite boring. Mayweather and Showtime are hoping to see a different Khan this time. In fact, for the upcoming Algieri fight, word is that if Khan holds in the manner and frequency he has in his last few fights, Showtime may well opt out and look for another opponent.
Khan’s latest complaint that Mayweather is looking to get out of the fight is actually Khan’s way of trying to shame Mayweather into the September fight. The fight with Mayweather, however, is up to Khan himself. If he will execute an exciting, offensive-minded fight, and win in dramatic fashion, he will secure himself the fight he has yearned for these long years. If the fight does not take place, he will have no one to blame but himself.
Commentary by Matthew R. Fellows
Daily Mail: Floyd Mayweather wants me to look bad against Chris Algieri so he can say I’m not good enough to fight him, claims Amir Khan.
Daily Star: Amir Khan warns Floyd Mayweather: You’re running out of excuses not to fight me.
Rapid News Network: Amir Khan suspects Mayweather of finding excuses to avoid ‘speculated bout.’
Photo Courtesy of Sheila Steele’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License