Mayweather v Pacquiao fallout: What next for Khan?

WBN 02/03/2015

Esther Lin

Amir Khan made no secret of the fact that he wanted a shot at Floyd Mayweather this year, especially when a showdown with Manny Pacquaio was looking increasingly unlikely.

Bolton’s Khan was adamant he deserved the much sought after payday with ‘Money’ Mayweather, especially following his dominant victory over Devon Alexander at the tail end of 2014.

The fight the boxing world really wanted was of course Mayweather vs. Pacquiao, but the ebbs and flows of negotations meant that nobody knew if it would ever come to fruition. Khan chimed in to throw his hat in the ring. There were even rumours of a Miguel Cotto rematch for Mayweather, and a potential bout with Pacquiao for the Brit. 

In terms of prestige, fan enthusiasm and potential PPV revenue, the best bout won outright. It’s been many years in the making – some say too late – but it’s finally happening. That’s all well and good for the paying majority, although for Khan it takes away two of his most desired matchups. He even went as far as to say Pacquiao was the “easier fight”; whether he actually believes that is another story. 

Promoter Eddie Hearn is now looking to a summer bout with undefeated Sheffield fighter Kell Brook, something Khan has been less than enthusiastic about in the past. 

“It’s a natural fight,” said Hearn, of course trying to stir the pot and do his job in putting the bout together. “Khan is the fight we want next, and the nation wants it as well.”

With no offence meant to Brook – who stands above Khan in the rankings and holds the more prestigious IBF world title – Khan had his sights set on the top dogs and anything less than that would feel like a step backwards. In terms of worldwide acclaim he’s probably justified, but there’s still plenty for him to gain. Early odds on betfair have Khan at 4/9 and Brook at 13/8, though many fans and pundits would likely have it closer on paper. 

Hearn also said that Khan “won’t get more to fight anyone else”, suggesting that the payday would be sizeable, and with domestic interest he might not be far off the mark. A huge stadium show and a buzz that would easily eclipse Froch vs. Groves, it’d be the biggest domestic fight in many years. The winner would be in with a much more legitimate shout of facing the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao victor, so there’s another carrot for Khan to take a bite at. 

Despite pressure from Brook’s side, “King” Khan has also shown interest in other potential matchups. Cotto was on his radar and would arguably move the needle more internationally, though the scale of anticipation would be nowhere near as big in the UK. Juan Manuel Marquez and Timothy Bradley were also in his crosshairs, universally respected names. 

There is no easy fight to come for Khan. You get the feeling that he is swerving a domestic fight for ego reasons, but also as a potential fallback plan if the international victories don’t come. Cotto’s left hook would leave a lot of question marks, so stylistically there could be better fights. In terms of overall appeal, money and his chances, it won’t come much more tailored than Brook. Not to discredit his chances by any means, that would be an extremely close encounter to call, but it does seem like a logical step. 

An ageing Marquez would be a shrewd move, albeit with significantly less interest. His speed is flagging and that would leave gaps for Khan to exploit, but there would be very little fanfare. Others have suggested Bradley would serve as an ideal contest. Again though, it is not without its pitfalls. Khan seems most motivated by Cotto, believing his style matches up well, trying to outbox the puncher. Those renowned whiskers would be tested and that leaves any fan with major concerns.

For now, Khan will have to watch the world’s best from the stands – begrudgingly given Mayweather’s taunts. That’s as close as he’ll get to the dream matchup for now, but with the right fight and the right performance, 2015 could still deliver it.