Word out of the Vegas-based Money Team is that a Mayweather-Khan fight is on the docket, due to the self-serving British fighter – true to form – deciding it was in his best interest to throw his trainer, Virgil Hunter, under the bus. Preliminary discussions are advancing and while both Mayweather and Khan are advised by the shadowy Al Haymon, money could be a sticking point. Mayweather is the self-proclaimed “A side” and will demand the lion’s share of the proceeds. Word is that Khan plans an aggressive negotiation process where he will demand better numbers than the typical Mayweather opponent.
While the Algieri fight was set up in order to give Khan a platform to make a public case for what had been essentially settled in private months ago, the fight ended up being more difficult for Khan than anyone in the Haymon, Mayweather and Khan camps had anticipated. Troubled by the media response to his performance, Khan found a way to blame everyone but himself. Many observers were stunned at the relative ease with which Algieri appeared to land his right hand and rough Khan up.
The subsequent fear on the part of promotional principals is that the fight might end up being perceived as a mismatch. Indeed, had there been any appreciable strength behind those all-too-frequent Algieri punches, Khan may well have been knocked out. Algieri punches like a kickboxer in that the kind of from-the-floor leverage boxers generally produce is not present.
At the end of the day, the ratings for the fight were high enough to seal the deal. While many in the media figured that the Algieri fight was make or break from a performance standpoint, as it turned out, the real focus was on ratings. The Haymon/Mayweather camps figured that the outcome of the fight was assured and it was assumed that Khan’s rapier-like jab and impressive offensive arsenal would appropriately materialize, giving the paying public the impression that he was a legitimate threat/test for Mayweather.
Truth be told, at this point, Haymon and Mayweather are interested in one thing – bottom-line profitability and being able to sell the fight being of paramount importance. As it turned out, from a performance standpoint, Khan threw a bit of a wrench into the proceedings, making the coming promotion a bit more problematic than it needed to be.
With the ease with which Manny Pacquiao dispatched Algieri, it was assumed that Khan would have no difficulties likewise dispatching the limited Algieri. In retrospect, as Khan considered his performance, he was rightfully embarrassed by not just a lackluster performance, but by a performance that may well have knocked him out of the Mayweather sweepstakes if not for the fact that it was essentially a done deal well before his gloves were laced up. While Mayweather is indeed on the September docket, and as the self-serving Khan throws his more-than-capable trainer, Hunter, under the bus, Khan knows he stunk up the Barclay’s Center. His suggestion that somehow he was over-trained is his feeble attempt to undo the damage done to the prospective promotion and to otherwise rehabilitate himself in the eyes of boxing fans.
The popular British fighter’s post-fight claim that he started training in earnest too early and that a fourteen-week training camp was too much is a bit of a stretch. He is claiming that Hunter has essentially been calling the shots and that in light of his problematic performance against Algieri, Khan wants to reestablish himself and take charge over his own training regimen.
The problem with this type of rhetoric is that Hunter has always given him latitude when it comes to the particulars of training, and his fourteen-week training was a decision made through consensus-driven collaboration. In fact, it was a decision based on the awareness that Khan needed to look extraordinarily good leading into the proposed, and by-then already decided upon, Mayweather-Khan fight in September.
In the end and now in hindsight, Khan appears to be a self-serving liar willing to throw the innocent Hunter under the bus. Those who know him well or have had dealings with him admit that this is standard operating procedure for Khan. What he did to Freddie Roach should have given Hunter pause before he signed on the dotted line.
Per elements within the Money Team, not contracting with Khan for the September fight was never really an option. Khan has frankly been coy with the press, acting as if he does not know what he does in fact know, which is the fact that he will be offered a contract to fight Mayweather in coming weeks.
Indeed, as Mayweather sits pretty on the docket awaiting the fight, and as the self-serving Khan throws Hunter under the bus and blames everybody but himself for a sub-par performance, there is literally no one else on Haymon’s radar. Khan’s popularity is high. He is coming off of a win and has a back story that will drive the so-called retirement party that is Mayweather’s 49th fight. While many naively assume the September fight will be Mayweather’s last, well-trusted insiders confirm that an April swan song is a sure bet. Additionally, despite Mayweather’s mean-spirited rhetoric to the contrary, Pacquiao continues to be the most likely opponent.
Commentary By Matthew R. Fellows
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Photo Courtesy of William Murphy’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License