Let’s call it a dress rehearsal.
Amir “King” Khan (28-3, 19 Kos) puts his flashy fists up against the deliberate southpaw attack of New York’s Luis Collazo (35-5, 18 Kos) on Saturday, May 3. It’s the semi-main event at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, and a prelude to a showdown with Floyd Mayweather if he can prove star worthy.
“Yeah, I mean it's all about performing in a good fashion, really, putting a great fight on, and you know putting a great performance on and a great fight for the fans,” said Khan, whose last fight was against Julio Diaz. He was knocked down once, some say it was really twice.
Khan must show that he’s prime-time ready for a mega fight against the king of mega fights “Money” Mayweather. The critics are gathered like hungry vultures ready to pounce on a poor performance from the prizefighter. Aside from Mayweather, Showtime executives, and Golden Boy Promotions, more importantly the fans will decide if he’s star worthy.
So far, Khan’s performances have been like a two hour standing bowl of chicken noodle soup.
Brooklyn’s Collazo jump-started his career with a sizzling knockout win over Victor Ortiz. That was completely unexpected to most. Though he’s very technically proficient, in the past Collazo has lost to the first stringers like Andre Berto, Shane Mosley and Ricky Hatton. His win over Ortiz was the first time he beat a solid major fighter.
“He's got great speed; but I think he might be a little bit slower than Andre Berto was,” said Collazo. “And that was a big fight for me. Come fight night we'll definitely see if his speed is going to be a factor or not.”
Speed is one thing that Khan indeed possesses and it’s taken him to wins over Marcos Maidana, Zab Judah, and Paul Malignaggi. He seems to have a hold over Brooklyn fighters. Will that continue against Collazo?
“We don't want to go into and take easy fights, I mean we want to fight the best out there, and it shows that Luis Collazo is one of the best out there by knocking out Victor Ortiz in his last fight, and proving himself,” said Khan. “I think he's earned his, he's earned a big fight, and so that's the reason that we want to fight, him, because we really believe that he is one of the dangerous guys at 147, and that's a fight that I need, and to get me up there, and get me back in the ring again.”
Khan’s lightning combinations can be blinding and overpowering as he displayed in his win against Carlos Molina in Los Angeles. But it can also be a major flaw against someone looking to fire a counter blow between those five-punch combinations. Think Danny Garcia and you get the idea.
So is Khan prime-time ready for Mayweather?
Personally, I can see Khan using his speedy jab to jump ahead in the early rounds if he were to meet Mayweather. But like Judah, once Mayweather got the timing down and Khan were to grow over-confident in his combinations, those counter rights would change the fight and eventually have the Brit looking for a way out.
Collazo is the perfect fight for Khan. First, he’s a southpaw and that’s always a problem for any boxer. Natural tendencies have to be reversed and escape routes are changed. Khan will need to re-adjust all of his attack routes and exit doors.
Plus, Collazo will be willing to sacrifice himself to get the win. He has little time at age 33 to be fighting a safety-first excursion that might be his last. Expect a much more aggressive and active response from the Brooklyn prizefighter.
“I think everybody learns from their mistakes. You just don't want to make them again. Before I was on my time, now, I'm on God's time,” said Collazo to one boxing writer during a conference call. “Like you said, May of 2006 I fought Hatton, and now it's May 2014 and I'm fighting Khan. It's amazing.”
Both Khan and Collazo know a loss can send them to the netherworld of boxing. Any dreams of fighting Mayweather or any major champion will be dashed by a defeat.
“I don't go to sleep thinking about, oh, I might get the Floyd fight. Of course not, my main focus is Khan, and May 3 is going to be the night,” Collazo said.
For Khan, he needs to nail this dress rehearsal or go home.
“The whole focus is going to be on Luis Collazo, and I'm not really going to get into all that, the hype about it happening in the future,” said Khan about a potential fight with Mayweather. “I mean, if it happens, it happens. I'm just going to be focused on one thing, and what I need to do is keep winning.”
Raise the curtain.