You might have heard that Amir Khan and Marcos Maidana are the two fighters thought to be the two possibilities for Floyd Mayweather to fight in his next bout, which will unfold on May 3 in Las Vegas.
I had the opportunity to talk at length with Khan, who resides in England and also in the US, where he does much of his training. We talked about Mayweather’s fan poll, Khan’s credentials to fight Mayweather, the media, Khan’s Army and Khan’s Army of haters. We also touched on Khan’s fight with Marcos Maidana and his drawing power with people outside of boxing.
Over the course of the chat, it became clear to me that Khan idolized Floyd Mayweather. But today is a new day; Khan believes he has more boxing skills than Floyd Mayweather, and if he gets the chance to fight Floyd, it goes without saying, in my mind, that his idolatry of Money will go out the window. I sense that he would force more of a fight than recent foes have, and with his penchant for trading, would give fans who buy the PPV better bang for the buck than they got in the Robert Guerrero and Canelo Alvarez fights.
Read on as I pick the brain of the man that is ready to perhaps sign on for the biggest fight of his life.
Ray Markarian: What do you say to the people that say you don’t deserve the Floyd Mayweather fight?
Amir Khan: Well, styles make fights. People can say he has beaten guys with speed and power. He has done a great job against everyone. He has beaten guys with decent footwork. Well, we bring all of those ingredients to the table.
AK: I never want to leave the sport not knowing how I would have done against the best fighter out there.
RM: What does a Floyd Mayweather fight mean to you?
AK: Well, at the end of the day you have to look at his record. He has fought the best out there. To have the opportunity fight a guy like him… He is the best fighter I watched growing up, you know. I always wanted to see how I could do against the best.
AK: I remember in the amateurs, I fought the best amateur in the world and he beat me. He was a Cuban guy. I got beat the first time we fought at 132 pounds. But I had to fight him again just to know how I would do against the best. The second time I fought him, I beat him. So then I thought, this is the best time to turn professional because I never want to leave a sport thinking that I never fought the best and I never beat the best.
RM: So, if you didn’t fight Mayweather you would regret it for the rest of your life?
AK: Yeah. Definitely. I’d regret it because there is stuff that I have that would cause him so many problems. My style is unorthodox. It’s just different. Yes, I’ve lost. Yes, I’ve been knocked out. But I don’t think I have ever lost a fight when it comes down to boxing. And I have never been in a boring fight. When I come to fight I come to fight.
RM: Tell me about the flaws that you see in Floyd Mayweather’s game.
AK: He has never faced anyone as quick and explosive as me. I definitely know that. If you look at his previous fight with Victor Ortiz, speed and explosiveness gets to him. Ortiz got beat but when he would explode towards Floyd it was effective. Speed and explosiveness gets to him.
RM: Maidana rushes his opponents too…
AK: Yes, he does. I mean, look, Maidana is a good fighter. I have nothing against him. I beat him before. But I don’t want to talk about that. His fight style is slow and flat-footed. At the end of the day this fight needs to sell on pay per view. Floyd is going to walk him and beat him up. Floyd is going to dictate from the first round on. But with me, he can never dictate a fight. I won’t let him control the fight.
RM: But Floyd has controlled all of his fights. Is that fair to say?
RM: Why can’t Floyd dictate a fight with you?
AK: I just won’t let him. That’s the style I have.
RM: Can you explain that to me?
AK: Floyd beats people with single shots, accuracy, and good footwork. He can’t dictate a fight against me because I beat him with footwork and speed. I can keep up with him in many departments. When people can’t keep up with him they get disheartened. He will never dishearten me.
RM: Adrien Broner and Robert Guerrero are names I have heard as possible opponents for you if you don’t get the Mayweather fight. Is there any truth to those rumors?
AK: You know, to be honest with you Ray, Virgil Hunter and I have been focusing on one thing. When I heard that I was a possible opponent for Mayweather, I have focused on just him.
RM: Do you have any control over what is going to happen as far as his decision to fight you?
AK: Look, we are normally the big fish. We control things. We pick opponents. And we dictate the negotiations. With Floyd, we have to put our hands up because he is the bigger name. He is the bigger draw. We have to listen to what he says. Remember when he was fighting Oscar De La Hoya? Oscar was the main man like Floyd is now. Oscar was dictating everything. I remember Oscar made Floyd wear Reyes gloves when he didn’t want to wear Reyes. So, we are in the same position as Floyd now. And every dog has his day, you know. I want to beat Floyd the same way he beat Oscar.
RM: So, what is the hold up with the fight?
AK: Look man, if they want to fight, I’m here. OK. We’re working in the gym. Floyd knows that I am preparing for him and no one else. And if for some reason he doesn’t fight me, then I really believe he is worried. There is no other reason why he wouldn’t fight me. If I am so vulnerable, then why doesn’t he fight me?
AK: If you look outside of hardcore fight fans there is no way he does better numbers than me. I bring fans from the UK, Asia, and the Muslim community. If boxing is a business, and this fight is about giving people an exciting fight and making the most money, then Floyd Mayweather vs. Amir Khan is a no brainer.
RM: You bring up an interesting point, because it seems like the boxing public has a love/hate relationship with you. What do you say to the people that think you sound desperate for a Floyd Mayweather fight?
AK: I’m not desperate. I am just responding to the fans. Look, I am not comparing myself to Floyd Mayweather with his fancy cars and big houses, but I have a great personality. I love to engage with the fans.
RM: But sometimes there are people that question your credentials and challenge you on Twitter and you don’t have a problem responding to them.
AK: Look, I’m a young man. I’m not running around here pretending to have the answer to the world. I know I have put my foot in my mouth sometimes when I have said things. I understand that. Everybody that has been my age has said things that they regret. We’ve all said and done some foolish things. But as long as I continue to grow it doesn’t matter. But besides all that, I’m ready to fight Floyd Mayweather on May 3rd.
AK: And I am ready to beat Floyd Mayweather.
AK: Right now Floyd can minimize me. He can show a picture of me getting knocked out. I have been stopped. I acknowledge that. But a lot of guys he fought have been stopped too. I think most of the guys he fought recently besides Mosley, Guerrero, and Canelo, were knocked out before he fought them. That shouldn’t be a reason why he doesn’t fight me. And if you want to be truthful, let’s ask Danny Garcia or some of the other opponents that I fought if they want a rematch. I don’t see anyone really anxious to rematch me. I have tried to rematch Garcia and Lamont Peterson. I don’t see anyone anxious to have a rematch with me. Both of them would make big money to fight me again. People say, “Why didn’t you give Prescott a rematch?” Prescott never put himself in a position of business to get a rematch.
RM: This is a business.
AK: Right. Two fights after the Prescott fight I was a world champion.
AK: It’s my job to continue to grow as a fighter.
RM: I hear you.
AK: You know, no fighter in the world can say that - I called Amir Khan out and he didn’t want to fight me. I have never said no to any fight. Whenever Golden Boy said fight Zab, fight Maidana, fight Peterson, fight Garcia, I always said yes. That’s the type of guy I am. It just shows that I’ll fight who ever they want me to fight. If I were a businessman I would have taken other routes. And sometimes I haven’t made the right business moves by fighting guys when I don’t need to fight them.
RM: So, is the possible Mayweather fight a business decision?
AK: The rewards of money come with fighting Floyd Mayweather. I appreciate that. He is such a high-profile fighter. But it’s also about pride. I want to beat Floyd. I know where that fight could take me. A lot of people say that Floyd is invincible. I know for a fact that he will get hit numerous times against me. I’m too fast for him. Look, financially I’m set. I am blessed. I have made a lot of money in boxing and planting money in real estate. I am very fortunate that way. I have a great team around me. But this fight is also about pride for me. I think he knows that.
RM: Why do you think he knows?
AK: I think that’s why he is making me wait so long. It’s a mind game to him. He knows this is a challenging fight for him. I am not coming to get a paycheck. I am coming to beat him.RM: I hear you. When’s the last time you heard from anyone in the Floyd Mayweather camp or even Golden Boy? When’s the last time you got an email, or voice mail or text from someone on Floyd’s side about the fight?
AK: Well, it was roughly around the time the poll was done. I spoke with Richard Schaefer. He told me to be patient. They are working on things. And we don’t know what Floyd is doing because Floyd is the boss. And he is acting like a boss.
RM: Did you idolize him growing up?
AK: Oh yeah, Ray. He is a great champion. I still like watching him. He is a great fighter. The only reason I want to fight him is because I see something in his style that I could take advantage of.
RM: Your uncle Taz told me that you have a poster of Floyd Mayweather on your wall.
AK: Yeah, I have a poster of him in my gym in the UK of when he fought Gatti. The fight was called Thunder and Lightning. It was a great performance. It was for the WBC title. Ever since then, Floyd has gotten bigger and bigger. And let me tell you something that no one sees - I am never the underdog in a fight. This fight I have so much to prove. I am the underdog.
RM: Virgil Hunter told me that he has no strategy, or overall plan for you in a fight against Floyd Mayweather. He just wants you to watch Floyd. Hunter told me that he is challenging you to memorize Floyd. Tell me more about that.
AK: Well, you have to think. When people fight Floyd they only look for that one big punch. I am not looking for that big punch. I know I can beat him with boxing skills. I am not going to beat him with power. I am going to beat him with skills.
RM: What do you make of the fans poll on Floyd Mayweather’s website. Do you think it was legitimate?
AK: I do think it’s legit. I read something that Floyd Sr. said that Khan would be an easy fight for Floyd Jr. Well, if that is the case then put your son in there. If you want to listen to the fans on your poll, then listen to what the fans have to say. If he is really a man of his word then we got the fight. It’s almost stupid really, why put a poll on your website for the fans to vote for your next opponent and then not listen to the votes? Other websites had polls too. But that doesn’t really make a difference. It’s his website that counts. The other people that voted on other websites might just be regular sports fans. The fans that voted on Mayweather’s poll are true boxing fans.
RM: Was there some sort of agreement among you Floyd Mayweather and Golden Boy Promotions to pass on the Devon Alexander fight in December?
AK: No, there wasn’t an agreement. You know, after Floyd fought Canelo I called Richard Schaefer and said, “I’d fight Floyd Mayweather next.” I was interested right away. Richard thought it was a great idea. He said you know what, that would be an amazing fight.
RM: I see.
AK: So, we spoke about it. But it wasn’t an official agreement. And I kept it quiet. I didn’t tell anyone. I just kept training. Now the fans are getting anxious. I know it’s between me and Marcos Maidana. That’s what I know.
RM: I have read recent reports that say Mayweather/Maidana is already confirmed. What do you think?
AK: You know Ray, I have read and heard the same thing. But I have not heard anything from Mayweather. He is the only person I am waiting for. We are waiting for him to decide.
RM: I think Floyd’s decision is between you and Marcos Maidana because Maidana beat Adrien Broner.
AK: Yes. He beat Broner. But I have beaten Marcos Maidana. Why does he want to fight my leftovers? I knocked Maidana down and beat him in a unanimous decision.
RM: What if he picks to fight Maidana? Where you do go next?
AK: If he picks Maidana it will be a push back for me. To be honest with you, whoever my next opponent is will get hurt.
RM: So, in other words, if he picks Maidana you will be disappointed.
AK: Yeah. All of the hard work… There is so much I want to prove in this fight. There is a lot I want to prove for my future. It’s not about proving it to myself. I want to prove it to my fans and the haters. I can honestly make peoples' mind change after this fight.
RM: You want to prove that you can beat Floyd Mayweather to the ones that doubt you?
AK: Well, deep inside of me, I know I got it. I mostly want to prove it to all the haters out there that talk smack. Because the haters can say what they want, but they have never seen me fight against a guy that could outbox me. No fighter can outbox me. Floyd won’t do it either. I can’t see Floyd out-boxing me.
You can send Ray an email at Raymond.Markarian@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter here @raymarkarian.