Derrick "Smoke" Gainer, Next For Amir Khan?

Amir KhanBy James Slater: Amir Khan's next opponent, scheduled to face the unbeaten prospect on September the 6th, has yet to be officially announced. However, according to highly respected U.K publication Boxing News, next up for the 21-year-old lightweight sensation will be former world champion Derrick "Smoke" Gainer.

Kahn's promoter, Frank Warren, has gone as far as saying Gainer is "odds-on" to land the fight, even though no official announcement has been made thus far. Gainer, at age 35 (he'll be 36 later this month) may have seen better days, but he remains a decent fighter. "Smoke" was originally offered the opportunity to face Khan a while back. Turning down the job because it meant he would be unable to train with good friend Roy Jones Junior - who was set to face Joe Calzaghe on September 20th - Gainer is again favoured to tackle Khan now that the Calzaghe-Jones fight has had its date changed.

Gainer explained why he originally had to turn down the September 6th date.

"With Roy fighting on Sept 20th, it would be hard to have our people travel to England and back with Roy winding down his camp for Calzaghe at that time," Gainer said a few weeks back. "I'd love to fight him, so I hope they offer the fight to me again. Doing in later this year or early next is fine with me."

Well, as we know, the Jones-Calzaghe fight has been put back to November 8th, so Khan-Gainer is, apparently, back on. Will the former WBA featherweight champion be able to test Khan?

A southpaw, Gainer has a good 41-7-1(24) record. Boxing up at lightweight in his last two bouts - both wins - Gainer will feel comfortable at the weight. The veteran is also hugely experienced, having been in with a number of world class fighters. "Smoke" has been in with the likes of Kevin Kelley (twice), Diego Corrales, Freddie Norwood, Juan Manuel Marquez and Chris John. The southpaw won his WBA belt in the Norwood fight (W TKO 11) and after making three successful retentions he lost it to Marquez three years later in 2003 (L TD 7). Of his seven career defeats, only two - to Kelley and "Chico" - came via KO.

If he's got enough left, comes in in a confident mood and doesn't run into anything early doors, Gainer might give Khan a tough night's work. Inactivity may be Gainer's biggest problem though. Having only had three fights in the last five years, with none of these bouts coming this year, the former champ may be overly rusty going up against hotshot Khan.

Arguably Khan's biggest named opponent so far in the 21-year-old's career, Gainer cannot be easily dismissed as a poor choice of opponent. Indeed, should Khan blow him away quickly, he will have done very well.

Article posted on 09.08.2008

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