Superkid Khan Brings His Future Forward

25.02.05 - By Richard Fletcher: WHEN I was 18, I had spots, no confidence and still lived at home. Amir Khan might still be doing the last thing on that list but he's now at the centre of a tug-of-war that could determine how quickly he turns his fame into a fortune. Until Thursday of this week, no-one had reason to doubt that Khan would remain an amateur boxer until 2008, when Britain's Olympic silver-medallist hoped to go one better by winning gold in Beijing.

But now it's all changed. A row over ticket allocation for Khan's latest Amateur Boxing Association qualifier in Norfolk, England, has led to suggestions that the swarthy-skinned superkid could now turn professional within months rather than years.

Khan pulled out of his quarter-final fight against James Martin at the 800-capacity Ocean Rooms in Gorleston when ABA officials refused to grant more than ten tickets to the fighter's family and friends.

The ABA later tried to resolve the dispute by switching the fight to an afternoon slot, meaning more tickets would be available. But Khan's camp rejected the offer and accused the ABA of going back on its promise to support Khan, which it made after the Olympics.

Now there are reports Khan will have his last unpaid bout on April 18 before signing with promoter Frank Warren, with whom his team has been locked in deep negotiations for some time.

If it happens, Britain could have its own million dollar baby. Khan undoutedly has the talent and charisma to make rapid strides in the professional game and he told a press conference this week that he now wants to be a world champion by the age of 21.

That, by implication, rules out the next Olympics, which always looked an ambitious target anyway. In the next three years, interest in Khan would level off if he stayed amateur and if he went to Beijing and missed gold, his credibility and marquee value would inevitably suffer.

By turning professional now, Khan is guaranteed to profit financially from what he did in Athens last year, when only the Cuban veteran Mario Kindelan stopped him becoming Olympic champion at the age of 17.

The youngster is in huge demand worldwide, a reality his connections will be acutely aware of, and now seems certain to pursue the sort of lucrative future that might not be open to him after Beijing.

Khan is the next big thing, be sure of that. But the timing of his next move could be as critical as the next punch he throws.

Article posted on 25.02.2005

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