Amir Khan is an extremely gifted athlete and a supremely confident one, too. He’s won world alphabet titles at 140, made lots and lots of money and, along the way, has become one of the sport’s most recognizable stars.
Khan is a very good fighter. But is he really as good as he thinks he is?
He should hope so. While Canelo Alvarez isn’t a fighter of Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao’s caliber (at least not at the present), it doesn’t seem out of line that he will be heavily favored over Khan when the two fight for Canelo’s lineal middleweight championship on Saturday night in Las Vegas.
Khan told The Sweet Science he will shock the world this weekend. If anything, I admire his courage and confidence headed into what will very likely be a one-sided fight for Canelo.
Khan told me he feels like he got a head start in training for the fight. He said he was staying in shape for hopeful bouts against Mayweather and Pacquiao, so when they didn’t materialize, it left him heading into the fight against Alvarez having been in camp for four or five months. In short, he feels sharper than ever.
Was he miffed he missed out on Mayweather and Pacquiao fights before they retired?
“I was. I would have been happy to fight them. I would have been strong. That would have been the perfect weight for me.”
Like Khan, Mayweather and Pacquiao are naturally welterweights, while Alvarez is more a junior middleweight plus. Khan told me he believes he would have beaten both Mayweather and Pacquiao if he had been able to convince either man to fight him.
“Styles make fights in boxing, and I think both of their styles would definitely have suited me, and both would have been great fights for the fight fans.”
Khan is sincerely disgruntled he didn’t get Mayweather or Pacquiao in the ring. In fact, he seems genuinely offended by it.
“Both guys I respect. They’re both great guys. But they didn’t treat me right by not fighting me.”
I admit I don’t really understand what he means. Yes, Khan has some excellent physical attributes, and he is very skilled as a boxer in many ways. But is he on the level of Mayweather or Pacquiao? Heck, I’m not even that sure he’s as good as Kell Brook.
Unlike Khan, Brook has actually won a world title at 147. And while Khan has fought bigger names over the course of his longer career, he certainly doesn’t project a huge favorite should the two men ever fight each other.
Khan, by the way, told me not to count on it.
“One thing with Kell Brook is that we offered that fight to them before this one, and instead of playing games like he did [in the negotiations], he needs to focus on taking some good fights.”
True to form, Khan said he considered Brook inferior to him. In his mind, Khan is a Mayweather or a Pacquiao, and Brook is just another contender-type people will forget someday.
“He’s won a world title but he hasn’t fought anyone decent. I think it’s time for him to prove himself. I’m way ahead of him in the sport of boxing, so it’s pointless to put my name next to his. He’s not proven himself since he beat Shawn Porter, and that was a very close fight anyway.”
Ironically, it’s Brook who is undefeated and Khan who has suffered three losses, two by devastating knockout. And Khan has had his fair share of close wins over lackluster competition, too. Still, the brash 29-year-old from Bolton is on a five fight win streak, and has been able to fight (and talk) his way into a bigtime pay-per-view bout against Alvarez.
You have to tip your hat to the guy. He wanted a big fight, and he made it happen.
“I’ve always wanted to be in a big fight. I want to give all my fans around the UK and around the world a big fight and this is the time.”
Does anyone out there give Khan a real chance in this one? I suppose I could see him fighting better than I’ve ever seen, boxing brilliantly and keeping Alvarez at the end of his punches while not making any major mistakes over 12 full rounds, to win a decision. But it seems very unlikely he’ll be able to pull it off. If Chris Algieri’s punches can make their mark on Khan, I’m pretty sure Canelo’s will, too.
Still, stranger things have happened in our sport.
For argument’s sake, let’s say he does win against Canelo. Is he foolhardy enough to defend his newly acquired lineal middleweight championship against 160-pound monster Gennady Golovkin?
“I think it just depends, really. I know I have a lot left to do at 147, so I think I’d like to drop down and win a world title at 147 and then maybe move up to light middleweight. Or maybe I consider 160. It just depends. I’ll have to see how my body feels after this fight and see what options I have and we’ll take it from there.”
So at least he’s not crazy. He didn’t outright say it, but he didn’t even dare utter Golovkin’s name in the response. Khan knows he’s not really a middleweight, so if he beats Canelo, expect him to drop back down in weight.
“I’m just going to make sure I’m at 100 percent, and I’m going to win this fight against Canelo.”
In the end, I suppose it doesn’t really matter what I think about it. If Khan really is as good as he thinks he is, he should be able to beat Alvarez on Saturday night, or minimally it should be a very close fight. If Khan’s extreme confidence in himself is truly warranted, this won’t be the blockbuster blowout many expect it to be.
“Now it’s time for me to show how good I really am, and where I belong.”