‘All eyes will be on me’: Amir Khan, ahead of Alexander bout, believes he’s next in line in boxing

Speaking to The National's Omar Al Raisi, boxer Amir Khan says he still wants a shot at Floyd Mayweather (or Manny Pacquiao) and hits back at his critics.
Amir Khan won his last fight against Luis Collazo in May, his third win in a row since losing to Danny Garcia in July 2012. Scott Heavey / Getty Images
Amir Khan won his last fight against Luis Collazo in May, his third win in a row since losing to Danny Garcia in July 2012. Scott Heavey / Getty Images

After a controversial defeat to Lamont Peterson in 2011 and a devastating loss to Danny Garcia in 2012, Amir Khan has spent the past two years getting his career back on track, and next week, he will headline at Las Vegas’s MGM Grand, the home of boxing, for the first time.

If he beats Devon Alexander on December 13, the doors should open to a pay-per-view fight with the likes of Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao, Tim Bradley or Juan Manuel Marquez.

“I’m working very hard to put on a show against Alexander, this is a big fight card ... so all eyes will be on me,” said Khan, 27, who was born in England.

“A good performance against Alexander will push me towards that goal.

“I want Floyd next, you all know that. If it is easy money for him, then why doesn’t he take it [the fight]? If he still dodges me, then I want Pacquiao. I want to be in the mix with the top names.

“A Danny Garcia rematch is something I still want. He has turned down a re-fight offer three times so far, so I don’t really know. The rematch will really be a big fight.”

Khan shot to prominence when he became Great Britain’s youngest Olympic boxing medallist, winning silver at the 2004 Athens Games at age 17.

He is a former two-time world champion, but he has received his fair share of criticism during his professional career.

Last month, IBF and WBA super middleweight champion Carl Froch questioned Khan’s ability to compete in the welterweight division.

“Every time Amir Khan has fought anybody in the top five he’s been knocked out,” Froch said. “Tell me anybody he’s beat who has been ranked in the top five.”

Khan has thick skin.

“At this point in my career, I can take criticism and I don’t really worry about what others say,” he said. “I’m happy with my career. I’ve fought Marcos Maidana, I clearly beat Peterson, who was on drugs and [that] was confirmed by the authorities [when Peterson failed a drugs test]. [Paulie] Malignaggi and Zab Judah, were top-10 fighters when I beat them, and now Alexander.

“Carl Froch is always criticising someone every other day, same with Kell Brook. I think they are just looking for publicity and to be in the papers. When they need that, they use my name.”

Criticism has not been confined to fellow fighters. ESPN’s Stephen A Smith says Khan is not a “worthy” opponent for Mayweather.

“I never met Stephen or spoken to him, so I don’t know what his deal is,” Khan said. “He is obviously interested in a Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, so he is pushing for it. Styles make fights, there are still some people out there who think I don’t deserve a fight with Floyd, but I’ll let my boxing do the talking.”

Khan indicated a few months ago that he had offered a fight to Manny Pacquiao, but the Filipino’s camp turned down the offer in favour of a bout with Chris Algieri, who Pacquiao beat by putting on a masterclass.

“This is a fight I want; I want to fight both Pacquiao and Floyd,” Khan said. “[Promoter] Oscar De La Hoya came up with this idea, I obviously wanted it from sometime now, so we offered the fight to Pacquiao’s promoter, Bob Arum, but they turned us down for Chris Algieri.

“I still want the fight, I’m here. It’s one fight at a time, so I’m focused on Alexander at the moment. After that, we will see where we stand.”

There has been speculation that Pacquiao v Mayweather might finally happen in May 2015. Reports suggest that Mayweather was offered a guaranteed purse of US$100 million (Dh367m) and Pacquiao $80m for the fight. Khan believes Mayweather will have the edge if that fight transpires.

“Mayweather will win this fight on points,” Khan said. “Pacquiao is not as explosive as he used to be and his style would be easy for Floyd to deal with.

“Pacquiao just comes right at you and attacks. That’s what Floyd wants from his opponents.

“If we talk about my style, for me, Floyd will be an easier opponent than Pacquiao. It will be tougher for me to fight Pacquiao than Floyd because of our styles.”

A couple of months ago, HBO poached the Mexican Canelo Alvarez from Showtime to be their new PPV star. Alvarez confirmed that he would fight on PPV on “Cinco de Mayo” (5th of May), which is celebrated in Mexico and by Mexican-Americans in the US, the same dates Floyd Mayweather fights on Showtime.

HBO, a rival US TV network to Khan’s Showtime, has set Timothy Bradley v Diego Chaves on the same day as Khan v Alexander in an apparent move to hurt ratings.

“Yes I know that Bradley is fighting on the same day as my fight against Alexander, but I think this will be a loss for HBO. If you see the fight card, we have myself, Alexander, Keith Thurman, Victor Ortiz and you see Bradley’s card isn’t as exciting as mine,” said Khan.

“I’m fighting at the mecca of boxing, MGM Grand, Las Vegas, I am on the billboards, on the MGM Grand hotel, there is buzz around Vegas about my fight. So we will do better in gate revenues and TV ratings, for sure.

“Bradley is a good fighter and I want to fight him in the future. I offered him a fight in 2011 but that didn’t happen, I hope in the near future it can happen.”

Amir “King” Khan has the fan base, he is the quickest boxer in the world, and with his explosive boxing style, a convincing win against Alexander will put Khan on his way to becoming a future PPV star.

Follow us on Twitter @SprtNationalUAE

Published: December 4, 2014 04:00 AM


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