Dead End – All Roads Lead to Money Mayweather?
The hype in Las Vegas reached fever pitch this week as the media, Goldenboy Promotions and the WBA Light welterweight champion’s trainer Freddie Roach debated about Amir Khan’s bright future and his date with destiny should he win in impressive fashion against the hard punching Argentine Marcos Maidana on Saturday night.
There is a growing sense that the young fighter from Bolton, who turned 24 on Tuesday can go on to emulate his stable mate Manny Pacquiao and become the pound for pound king within the next two years. Whilst Amir Khan has many detractors in the UK following his fall from grace against Breidis Prescott, he has started to attract the attention of the American press. Reports of him getting better of Manny Pacquiao during their heated sparring sessions in the build up to this fight have been doing the rounds and Freddie Roach, who has all but given up on Pacquiao ever fighting Floyd Mayweather Jnr has thrown down the gauntlet by suggesting that he now has two fighters capable of beating the sublimely talented Mayweather – Manny Pacquiao and Amir Khan!
Mayweather Jnr has turned down the opportunity to take on Manny Pacquiao in what would be financially the biggest fight in boxing history on several occasions, despite Pacquiao making concessions to every demand made by Team Mayweather including random drug tests. It would appear this it not enough to entice the self-proclaimed “Greatest fighter ever” to step up to the plate and take the challenge. The cat and mouse game has become so tedious that despite best efforts promoters Top Rank, Goldenboy Promotions and HBO the fight looks unlikely to happen anytime soon, which is a bad thing for boxing but possibly a great opportunity for Amir Khan.
Amir Khan is now being touted as the next big challenge for Floyd Mayweather Jnr and though this fight would have been inconceivable a year or so ago, Mayweather’s insistence to move the goal posts when negotiating, his mounting legal issues and lack of activity leave him with fewer options than he would care to imagine. Having recently insulted US paymasters HBO when he declared that the latest round of negotiations where a figment of their imagination and Mayweather’s well publicised racist and homophobic rant against Pacquiao on the internet mean he could be skating in thin ice. He has benefited enormously from his association with HBO and Goldenboy Promotions, having been paid tens of Millions of Dollars to fight the likes of Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton and more recently Shane Mosley, but his list of possible opponents is dwindling should he turn down Pacquiao a third time.
He is the number one Pay Per View attraction in boxing, but in order to maintain this status and not be surpassed by the brilliant Manny Pacquiao he needs to get back to doing what he is best at and that is boxing. His success has been carefully orchestrated and having invested heavily in his career Seth Abraham the head of boxing at HBO will not settle for many more of Mayweather’s irrational demands. The fight the fans and the network are in unison, they want the Mayweather v Pacquiao showdown to happen. It would be a great shame if arguably the two best fighters in the world could not come to an agreement and settle the dispute as to who is the pound for pound champion once and for all.
Floyd Mayweather’s decision to only compete in mega events and not fight on a regular basis means that Amir Khan represents the perfect opponent should he opt for an alternative challenge. The fight will draw a massive audience in the UK ensuring that all parties are paid handsomely for the promotion and one can only assume that Floyd Mayweather Jnr will feel that Amir Khan represents a far less daunting proposition than fighting the human typhoon, the destructive Manny Pacquiao.
To remain undefeated, make as much money as possible with the minimum of risk appear to be the main goals of Mayweather Jnr, now that he is in the twilight of his career. The showdown if it took place as rumoured on the eve on the Olympics in London in 2011 would be an intriguing encounter between a 36-year-old who has dominated in numerous weight classes and the young heir apparent, Amir Khan who would be only 26 years old.
The proposition of the undefeated American facing an opponent in his twenties is something he has not done since he fought Zab Judah for the vacant IBF welterweight title in 2006 and for good reason. Like Zab Judah, Amir Khan possesses the attributes that Mayweather struggles with most, speed and slick boxing skills. Having been knocked down early in the fight (the referee called it a slip) and losing the first five rounds , Mayweather managed to overcome this deficit as Judah tired later in the fight and claimed a close victory on points. This fight is the best example to illustrate Freddie Roach’s belief that Amir Khan’s would be too much for Mayweather Jnr at this stage in his career.
“Amir has the perfect style to beat Floyd, because he has speed, and Floyd has trouble dealing with it.” explained Freddie Roach this week in the media.
Couple this with the younger mans conditioning and high work rate, it’s quite rational thinking to believe that Amir Khan could beat Floyd Mayweather Jnr. In his last fight against Paulie Malignaggi in which Amir Khan won by an 11th round TKO, the WBA Light Welterweight Champion threw a total of 653 punches with a 40% success rate. Of the punches thrown, 369 were jabs and 284 were power punches. The fight with Oscar De La Hoya proved if there is a chink in Floyd Mayweather’s armour it is that he struggles with a fighter who possess a good jab and Khan throws these accurately and in abundance. When we discussed the scenario of facing Mayweather Jnr in the future, Amir Khan insinuated that he would follow the same game plan as De La Hoya, but instead of losing he would emerge victorious.
“Luckily being in my peak, I’ll be stronger, I’ll be in the best shape of my life. Being with Freddie, but bring younger than De La Hoya and having Alex Ariza who would get me conditioned for that fight, we would be ready for it. But first I need to concentrate on the fights I have ahead of me and slowly the bigger fights will come and that’s why I want to fight Maidana, because after I beat him the big fights will follow” explained a philosophical Khan.
But as we know possessing the tools to complete the task is one thing, having the ring generalship and mental focus to achieve it is a separate matter. Mayweather may throw less punches on average than Khan, but he has proven that his accuracy of punch and boxing brain are second to none. His uncanny knack of adapting and counteracting his opponent’s style as the fight progresses have helped him emerge victorious 41 times without defeat.
History has taught us one thing, nothing can be taken for granted in boxing and currently Mayweather Jnr appears to be unravelling at the seams as his legal woes mount. This week he was in court again following an altercation with a security guard and in January faces the real threat of a lengthy prison sentence should he be found guilty of coercion, robbery, and grand larceny charges following a dispute with his estranged girlfriend and mother of his two sons, Josie Harris. Life with the Mayweather clan is never simple, his uncle and head trainer Roger Mayweather is also facing the possibility of a return to prison and the irrepressible promoter Don King is circling to take brother Floyd Mayweather under his wing in his hour of need.
There may well be a few bumps in the road before we see “Money” Mayweather box again, if at all, but one thing is for sure Amir “King” Khan has the opportunity to answer his critics and become a genuine crossover star. Being mentioned in the same sentence as Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jnr is something few British boxing fans would have expected following his chilling defeat in Manchester two years ago. The hard training has now been done and the plan has been cultivated by Freddie Roach for Amir Khan to shine in his fight with Marcos Maidana this weekend. The placid young man from Bolton has the chance to prove that he has what takes to move to another level and stake his claim to fight Floyd Mayweather Jnr.
As the brash American says “All roads lead to Floyd Mayweather!”
The next 18 months should be very interesting, will Amir Khan succeed on route to his proposed superfight with “Money” Mayweather? And more importantly if Floyd Mayweather’s self-destructive behaviour continues his so-called road paved with gold may well turn out to be a dead-end?
Only time will tell.
By Eoin Mundow