Everyone in boxing seems to have an opinion about Amir Khan. By now, you have surely heard about Khan’s quest to dethrone the best in the sport and his rise to stardom, and also the takedowns, from those who deride his game and nitpick his choice of moves.
The Bolton native says nothing was handed to him. And he listens to boxing fans more than one would expect.
Kell Brook is itching to fight Khan. The Bolton native didn’t hold any punches when discussing a potential fight against the undefeated Brook. “There are levels to boxing,” he told me. “I think Kell Brook needs to understand that he is at a level below me.“
I spoke with Khan on Saturday afternoon to discuss the possibilities of fighting Brook, the winner of Mayweather/Pacquiao, and his potential next opponent, Chris Algieri. On Thursday, Khan made an announcement on his wife’s YouTube account stating he is fighting Algieri on May 30th. Two days later, Khan retracted his statement. Khan says, “The Algieri fight is not 100% confirmed.”
Khan spoke to me about the reactionary potential opponents; fight fans, and media surrounding his career. Khan also talked at length about boxing politics, how undeserving opponents, especially Brook, get thrown into the mix when they have not earned the opportunity.
“All I want is Kell to prove himself fighting A-list fighters, like I have done. Right now, he is just riding on my back. He is riding my name. I know it’s business but please stop fooling people and making me look small. Eddie Hearn and Kell Brook make me look like a liar.”
In an in-depth interview about his history in the sport, and what the future holds, Khan attempts to explain better his career as a whole.
Ray Markarian: A few days ago, you made an announcement on YouTube saying that you are fighting Chris Algieri on May 30th. But you just told me the Algieri fight is not confirmed. What is going on with the Algieri fight?
Amir Khan: I made the video on YouTube because we thought the fight with Chris Algieri was a done deal. But I have been speaking with my team and there are some more options on the table. We are waiting things out. I hope to get my fight finalized this week.
RM:So, the fight with Algieri hasn’t been confirmed?
AK: No. Nothing is 100% confirmed yet. We could make an announcement in another couple of days. We don’t know if it’s Algieri just yet. My opponent on May 30th has not been confirmed. Nothing has been agreed upon. There are a lot of names out there. We just have to make the right decision.
RM:What about Adrien Broner? You think Broner wants the fight? He was calling you out.
AK: No. I don’t think he wants it. I think he hyped it up on social media. I told him that I am a 147-pound fighter. He was very respectful and said he wants to meet at 144 or 145. Why would I go to meet him at 144 or 145? If he wants to fight me then he should come meet me at my weight. I am getting messages that he really doesn’t want the fight. He is talking big on the social media. But when it comes down to taking the fight on May 30th, or even May 23rd, we hear nothing. He doesn’t want anything.
RM: What about Juan Manuel Marquez?
AK: Nothing. We haven’t heard much from them.
RM: What about the fight with Miguel Cotto? I know there were rumors about you fighting Cotto.
AK: Here’s one thing I want to the public to understand. I am the one that is challenging everyone. It’s me calling out these big names. The fight with Miguel Cotto would be great for me. But I heard he is working a deal to fight Bundrage. I think he has a date set in June. I want to fight at the end of May. And I can’t do June because of Ramadan.
AK: Obviously I take Ramadan very seriously. I don’t want to rush into it. That’s why I want to fight at the end of May. I want to start preparing for Ramadan in June. Even though it doesn’t start until like the 17th, it’s important, and I want to start for preparing for it. So basically I am the one that wants to fight all the big names but people are trying to bring me down saying that I want to fight an easy option in Algieri. But like I said, the main reason we are considering Algieri is that the fight is going to be on primetime TV in the US. And it makes a lot of money for me. So, why not take the fight?
RM: OK. But, why wouldn’t you make a lot of money fighting Kell Brook?
AK: Kell Brook?
RM: Yeah. I think that’s the main question.
AK:Well, it’s all timing. I want to fight in America. And I want to fight before June. Brook is looking at mid June or the end of June. Here’s the thing with Kell Brook… I have always said it from day one; I have had all the toughest fights. I have gone through the gauntlet. I earned my stripes and I did it the hard way, fighting the likes of Maidana, Judah, Garcia, Peterson, Malignaggi, and Alexander. I am fighting all the top guys. I have proven myself. Brook can’t go into a fight with Amir Khan after beating Jo Jo Dan. All due respect to Dan. I respect every fighter, but Dan is a nobody. You think I am going to say, “Oh yeah, fight me next.” It doesn’t make sense for him (Brook) to fight me after the Jo Jo Dan fight. Why doesn’t he prove himself? I mean, look, he is fighting all of these C-Class opponents. Now he really thinks he has a chance to fight me? Why should I give him the opportunity to fight me when he has not taken a hard fight?
RM: Brook hasn’t paid his dues?
AK: Exactly. Don’t get me wrong, because there is going to be a lot of money on the table regardless. There will be a lot of money on the table fighting Kell Brook. But there will be a lot of money fighting Algieri as well. The reason I respect Algieri is because has faced some tough guys, like Provodnikov and Manny Pacquiao. I really believe the fight with Algieri makes more sense, in a way. Algieri has been in with the top guys. What if he beat Pacquiao? I mean, he lost the fight, but if he won then he probably wouldn’t even fight me. It’s not my job to defend Chris Algieri. But my opponent on May 30th hasn’t been confirmed. I am just saying that if it is Algieri, then here are the reasons why we would fight him.
RM:Algieri went 12 rounds with Pacquiao. That’s true. You have to respect him for that.
AK: Exactly. His last three fights were against some top guys, Provodnikov, Pacquiao, and Emmanuel Taylor. You can’t really disrespect him. I will tell you one thing, He is better than Jo Jo Dan. And I am hearing another thing about Eddie Hearn. I heard Hearn is looking at Brandon Rios or a guy named Antonin Decarie for Kell Brook’s next opponent. But Rios is naturally a 140-pound fighter and Decarie is another unknown name. It seems to me that Kell Brook’s team is picking the easy option. I think they are scared to lose to an A-Class opponent and lose the opportunity to fight Amir Khan. The only reason he wants to fight me is for the big payday. Otherwise, he would probably face some decent opponents. He is scared of losing the title. That’s all it is.
RM:Does the public criticism get under your skin?
AK: No Ray, it doesn’t bother me. I want to speak to you to get the message out to the general public. Sometimes the general public doesn’t really understand the boxing business. I do not disrespect any fighter. We work in a very tough profession. I think that people do not see how hard our job really is.
RM: The business outweighs the sport.
AK: It is a business. Eddie and Kell are fooling the fans and the media. Look at my last 10 opponents and look at Kell’s. Regardless if I won or lost. They say I am afraid. They put my name down of being afraid. All I want is Kell to prove himself fighting A-list fighters, like I have done. Right now, he is just riding on my back. He is riding my name. I know it’s business but please stop fooling people and making me look small. Eddie Hearn and Kell Brook make me look like a liar. If Kell really wants to fight me then he should fight a few A-list opponents and build his name. Instead of looking at the small picture look at the bigger picture. We can make the Amir Khan/Kell Brook fight like Mayweather/Pacquiao, if we do it smartly. But that’s only if Kell fights the likes of Maidana, Thurman, or Marquez. He has to prove himself against top guys, you know?
RM:You said that you would fight Kell Brook in a “winner take all of the purse” type of fight. You would really do that?
AK: Yes of course. That’s how confident I am. And I want to prove to him that at the end of the day, boxing is not about the money to me. I am blessed to have made a lot of money in this sport. I have been very lucky to surround myself with great people. I have been lucky in life. But boxing is not all about the money to me. But I know for him, (Kell Brook) it is all about the money.
AK: And when I said, “winner takes all” I didn’t say it was going to be my next fight. It could be the end of the year or early next year. So, when and if I ever fight Brook that’s what I want to do. That’s how confident I am that I will beat him.
RM:I know you continue to say that Brook hasn’t really fought anyone but he beat Shawn Porter. Porter was an undefeated champion, you know?
AK: Yeah. He beat Shawn Porter. But it was a 50/50 fight. That was the only top guy he fought and it could have gone either way. That was a very close fight. A lot of people thought Shawn won. A lot of people thought Brook won. So, if that is the only A-Class opponent he fought and it wasn’t a clear victory, then I think he still needs more experience.
RM: So, you’re saying that Brook fought one “name” fighter, and won a close fight, but hasn’t truly proved himself?
AK: Exactly. Obviously, Kell has beaten one big fighter. But you can’t just beat one decent name and say you want to fight the world. You know what I mean?
RM: I hear you.
AK: You really think Brook has a chance with Manny Pacquiao or Mayweather? They don’t even know who Kell Brook is. You know what I mean?
RM: So, you paid your dues and Brook hasn’t paid his dues? That’s basically what you’re saying?
AK: He hasn’t earned it. That’s what the general public needs to understand. Kell Brook hasn’t done it the hard way. He has done it the easy way. But he is trying to win over the fans by putting me down. He puts me down and says he wants to fight me but we all know, realistically, he wants to fight me because he knows he will make more money. He just doesn’t want to risk losing to an A-Class opponent. If Kell Brook fought me it will be a life changing experience for him.
RM:You mean financially?
AK: Yeah. A fight between Amir Khan and Kell Brook will change his life. So, should I give him that opportunity? I don’t know.
RM: The cards are in your hands, huh?
AK: The cards are in my hands. Exactly. But you cannot disrespect who I fight and what I have done in my career. I have done more than what Kell Brook has done. Everyone knows I call out the big names but I don’t do it disrespectfully. I pay my respects to proven warriors. Kell Brook hasn’t done half of what I have done.
RM:You are looking out for yourself.
RM: So, why is Amir Khan doing what is best for him and not worried about what Kell Brook wants?
AK: Well, here’s the reason. Let’s be real. I have faced everyone that they have asked me to fight, from my mandatory to the top guys; I didn’t have to take these fights against the big names. But I did. That’s the type of fighter that I am. But you can’t disrespect me because I might fight somebody else. Algieri is a tough fighter. No fight is easy. Like I said, Algieri is better fighter than Jo Jo Dan. If it’s ok for Kell Brook to fight Jo Jo Dan, and his next fight might be against some guy named Decarie, why can’t I fight Algieri? Why are they disrespecting me?
RM: If Chris Algieri fights Kell Brook, who wins?
AK: It’s a toss up. That’s a close fight. At the end of the day, Algieri is a good fighter. He went the distance with Pacquiao and showed a lot of heart in that fight.
RM: OK. So, in your opinion, what will satisfy the public?
AK: Man, I am just hearing so many things. Eddie Hearn said that I turned down a fight with Tim Bradley, the title eliminator. I would never turn down that fight. That’s crazy. That fight has never been offered to me.
AK: And if the Bradley fight was offered to me, I would take that fight in a heartbeat. Everyone knows I have offered to fight Bradley a long time ago. Bradley said he doesn’t want to fight. So, why would Eddie Hearn go out there and say I refused the fight against Bradley? Hearn doesn’t know anything. That (Bradley) fight hasn’t been brought to my attention.
RM: We are talking about Amir Khan fighting Hall of Fame fighters. You are one fight away from fighting Hall of Fame fighters.
AK: Well, my name is getting mentioned to fighting the winner of Mayweather/Pacquiao. But I have Kell Brook calling me out. There are levels to boxing. I think Kell Brook needs to understand that he is at a level below me.