The Pugilist: Khan could face Mayweather soon

Thu, 28 Jul 12:48:00 2011

Our boxing expert James Garner believes Amir Khan could face Floyd Mayweather Jr as early as next year.

- Khan could face Floyd soon

Last Saturday night Amir Khan didn't take any risks, and Zab Judah didn't take enough of them - the younger fighter triumphed inside five rounds.

It was the most emphatic defeat that Judah has suffered and it prompted Ring Magazine to promote Khan to the top of their light-welterweight rankings, thus displacing Timothy Bradley.

Bradley had turned down the chance to fight Khan in the hope of landing a big payday against Manny Pacquiao.

Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr are not only far and away the two best welterweights in the world today, but the two best boxers altogether.

Khan, a training partner of Pacquiao, is now being seriously considered as a Mayweather opponent, not least because of a lack of credible names at welterweight. Even if Khan, 24, were to box for another decade it is hard to envisage that he would ever again have the chance to fight a boxer of such magnitude.

Mayweather has looked down the weights for opponents before, comfortably beating Juan Manuel Marquez, the lightweight champion, and Ricky Hatton, then the light-welterweight champion.

Meanwhile, Pacquiao's whirlwind demolitions of Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito have underlined just how far the sport's top two fighters stand apart from the rest.

Nobody really thinks that Timothy Bradley has a chance against Pacquiao or Mayweather and this only accentuates the criticism that he is receiving for declining the Khan fight.

However, the improving Khan can legitimately be compared to the two big two, if only in terms of potential.

Above all, Khan may have the right style to one day beat Mayweather. Zab Judah evaded many of Khan's shots but, even when Khan was missing, Judah was simply unable to fire off counters.

Mayweather is another counterpuncher, and although he has far better fluency between his defence and his attack than Judah, he would face the same problem against Khan. The British fighter can ambush and retreat so quickly that there is only a very small window in which the counterpuncher can get to work.

If Khan really could beat Mayweather, and trainer Freddie Roach has been talking up his chances, then he needs to plot his future carefully because the defining fight of his career may already be close at hand.

In an ideal world, Khan might take three years before ascending to the highest level. However, when the highest level literally refers to just two men, both aging, and one your training partner, things are not so simple.

Mayweather is 34 already and he fights Victor Ortiz in October so he will be 35 before the earliest possible date for a Khan showdown. Whilst Mayweather remains undefeated it would be an enormous achievement to beat him, and yet, were Mayweather to look old against Ortiz, that would begin to diminish the achievement.

If Khan is serious about fighting Mayweather then the ideal tune-up opponent would be Juan Manuel Marquez, 37, but he is signed to fight Pacquiao. Otherwise there is the talented Robert Guerrero, 28, who returns to light-welterweight next month to fight Marcos Maidana.

Other potential opponents include the aged Erik Morales and Maidana, for a rematch of last year's thriller. It is hard to see what Khan would learn against either of those two that would help him against the Moneyman.

Also, it would seem odd for Khan, rather than Pacquiao, to fight Mayweather. One is perhaps a $100m fight, and the other is a $200m fight.

If Pacquiao and Mayweather do finally agree to fight next year then Timothy Bradley would surely have little choice but to fight Khan for all four light-welterweight belts. That would seem the ideal outcome for boxing fans.

It will likely come down to what Mayweather wants and he is a difficult character to read. We do at least know that he loves money and he hates losing.

If Mayweather hates losing enough he might retire without facing Khan or Pacquiao. If he prioritises money then he will surely fight Pacquiao. It is just possible that Khan lies in the right place on that risk-reward spectrum, and will get the chance of a lifetime as early as next year.

James Garner / Eurosport

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