Amir Khan – King of What?

I have long been a vocal supporter of Amir Khan, but he seems to be doing his utmost to alienate anybody who still has the belief in him to back him against his many detractors. He has now had a minimum of 2 opportunities to sign up to a World title fight and he has rejected them both. His last fight was against an opponent who was, with all due respect, completely irrelevant. His excuses are changing every time; I want Mayweather, I want Pacquiaio, I want World title fights, and now apparently Kell Brook is not worthy of a fight with King Khan. It is becoming harder and harder to argue that Khan is one of the top fighters in the Welterweight division and, perhaps more importantly, I no longer want to try.

Back in December, Khan took a fight which went a long way to making him relevant again, when he fought Devon Alexander. Before this fight he had already beaten Luis Collazo; who is a good gatekeeper for the welterweight division but not much more, and prior to the Collazo fight he had beaten Carlos Molina and Julio Diaz since his defeat to Danny Garcia. The Alexander fight was his first since that crushing defeat that actually instilled excitement in Khan’s fans. Alexander was still a highly-rated technical fighter and there were more than a few who fancied the American to put another defeat on Amir’s record. What transpired was arguably one of Khan’s best performances. He beat Alexander to every punch and looked scintillating in short bursts, clearly showing off the hard work that had been put in the gym with world class coach Virgil Hunter, and he eventually won a wide points decision. Finally, King Khan’s fans had some ammunition to use against the hordes of casual boxing fans who had written Khan off as soon as he was knocked out by Breidis Prescott back in 2008. It finally gave some, if only a little, legitimacy to Khan’s claims that he deserved a money-spinning fight with Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather, and it really did increase the attention the Brit boxer received in the press. You would be forgiven for thinking that, once the Mayweather vs. Pacquiaio mega-fight was announced, Khan would be desperate for any other shot he could get at a World title. One would even think he would be absolutely delighted when Kell Brook sensationally took Shawn Porter’s title in a big upset, as the two had long traded insults about who would beat who.

So, Khan beat Alexander, Brook recovered from some horrific injuries he suffered in a stabbing shortly after winning the title, that means a fight will surely be made between the two best British welterweights for a world title in England, right? Well, Kell Brook had a mandatory to get out of the way which he did in emphatic fashion, but just when it seemed inevitable that we would see him fight Khan next, we hear that Khan has rejected a multi-million pound offer from Eddie Hearn to set up the battle of Britain. This set tongues wagging; was Khan scared? Did he have a better fight lined up? Is Eddie Hearn telling the whole truth about the offer he made? None of these questions needed answering as soon as it was confirmed that Khan’s next fight was going to be against Chris Algieri.

Chris Algieri was fantastic against Provodnikov at light-welterweight in a very tight affair, but he got absolutely destroyed by Manny Pacquiaio at welterweight. It is almost impossible to argue that Algieri is a big name; he only had two fights that could be considered as ‘big events’, and one of them was a frankly catastrophic defeat. A fight between Khan and Algieri is not something that many boxing fans were desperate to see and there were even fewer people backing Algieri to win. The only possible reason Khan could think of to prevent a massive backlash from his fans was that if he did a better job on him than Pacquiaio did, perhaps Mayweather would be under a little more pressure to fight him. What transpired was nothing short of an embarrassment. Pacquiaio knocked Algieri down 6 times on the way to a conclusive points victory. Khan struggled to a tighter victory with no knockdowns and his fair share of facial damage. This was not in the script; on top of turning down a world title fight that he constantly tells us he will win with ease, he has now failed to register one knockdown against a former light-welterweight who looked as though a light breeze could take him to the canvas against Pacquiaio.

After Khan beat Algieri and Brook beat Frankie Gavin in an equally uninspiring match-up, you would be forgiven for thinking that all obstacles were now out of the way. The fighter’s constant bickering in the media has raised public interest in the fight to the level required to fill a big stadium and it is currently the biggest potential fight that involves British fighters. Amir Khan has long said that he would beat Kell Brook easily and the feeling is mutual, but now Khan has pulled a new excuse out of the bag. He genuinely believes that Brook is not a big enough name for him to worry about, despite the fact that Brook has a world title and he beat Shawn Porter in his own backyard. This is one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard him say, and believe me there are some serious contenders for that crown. The sheer fact that Khan says he can beat Brook easily should be more than enough to tempt him to take the fight regardless of the world title, so it makes absolutely no sense to berate Brook’s standing with boxing fans as it should not even be a factor. I can not name another fighter on the planet who would turn down a world title fight they believe there is no chance they can lose. The only reasonable explanation would be that perhaps King Khan is not as confident as he wants us to think. Most frustratingly, I believe Khan would beat Brook. Kell Brook has been excellent in recent years and is of course undefeated, but I do not believe he has anything that Khan has not faced before. Brook is a technically sound fighter with reasonable power, but he is not too slick to be hit and he is not a one punch knockout artist. From my point of view, Khan’s speed and experience should be enough to see off the challenge of Special K, although Brook definitely has a chance. It makes this whole sorry saga all the more disappointing. Also, I am not sure who Khan even has his eye on to fight next. A fight with Pacquiaio is off the agenda for this year thanks to the surgery he had after the Mayweather fight, and a fight with Mayweather just does not look like it will happen, so who else is there at welterweight who he believes is a bigger name than Brook? The only other person I can think of is Keith Thurman, who is hotly tipped puncher but has not yet entered the mainstream, but I do not think that this is a fight that Khan particularly wants anyway as Thurman has a fearsome knockout record.

As somebody who genuinely enjoys watching Khan and also genuinely believes he is among the top fighters in the world at his weight, it is immensely frustrating to see him taking such a strange direction in his career. He looked incredible in the Alexander fight, but since then he has gone off track. I can’t see Mayweather suddenly deciding that he does want to fight Amir, so if he does not take the “easy” fight with “small-time” world champion Kell Brook, Khan could find himself facing the insurmountable task of keeping his fans interested in any fight that he takes; and it is already a task that appears to be too much for him.