Newly-crowned champ Shawn Porter, an Al Haymon-managed fighter along with Maidana, Alexander and Mayweather, got the assignment. Khan, the non-Haymon, odd man out, sat in waiting, training for Mayweather in the U.K. and in the Bay Area. It’s a decision that may haunt Amir Khan forever should a chance to fight Mayweather never come again.
“Even though even though I was kinda told, I was advised kind of, to take time out to prepare for Floyd Mayweather, I can focus all my attention on that one style. I was told to pull out of the Devon Alexander fight; that way I could focus on Floyd Mayweather. So I thought I had that fight in the bag. So that’s the reason I pulled out. I do regret it now. I should’ve taken the fight on. Now I would be IBF welterweight champion. I would have had one fight at the 147 [pound] division. Alexander is a perfect style for me. It was a winnable fight.”
Rumors swirled that the Mayweather fight was all but a done deal. Khan split time between the U.K. and the Bay Area training and building his body up to prepare for a 147-pound campaign in general and Mayweather specifically. Having covered him in several camps in two cities, I can confidently say he was as in as good of shape as I have seen him if not better. His first day back at the sprint training track with Remi Korchemny, Khan was barely off a record time in his previous camp.
But no official announcement from Mayweather was made as the Super Bowl came and went.
“From there, we went back and forth,” explained Khan. “I signed sent contracts back, assignments and contracts from the U.K. back in December, so I kept it quiet. I didn’t really tell anyone. And I thought we’d be talking about Floyd Mayweather-Amir Khan. Then Floyd started playing games.”
Instead of an opponent announcement, Mayweather tweeted he would do a fan poll on his website with Maidana, the recently crowned WBA welterweight champ and Khan, a former 135 and 140-pound titleholder who had yet to fight at 147 pounds as the choices. Khan won on a poll on Mayweather’s site. Maidana won on various media polls. In the end, Maidana “won” the poll.
“[Mayweather] wanted to give the fans a chance to determine who his opponent would be. Then I won the poll. I think it was the ‘official’ poll. He is the one who tweeted it would be on his website. I won the poll by 57% and the fans wanted to see me fight Mayweather,” Khan lamented. But he learned that like in politics, polls don’t mean much, especially in the dictatorship that is Mayweather Land. “I was getting no feedback from Golden Boy and Mayweather or his team. It was all just quiet.”
At that stage, Khan knew he did not have the fight and accepted that all the build-up, all the hoping and the hard work getting into shape was ultimately for naught. Khan, perhaps taking out the last of his frustration, tweeted that he would not get the fight but rather Maidana would. The move preempted the inevitable Mayweather tweet about the fight and essentially told the fans what they were getting for this year’s first “May-Per-View.”
“I said \’Look, guys; it’s not going to be me. It’s going to be Maidana. I wish them both the best. They are both great fighters.’ And I will now sit down with my team and see what my next move is,” said Khan.
Khan feels the poll was a way to justify not facing him. In recent years, no matter how he sells it, Mayweather picks his own opponents and none of them are worthy challenges in terms of style. Saul Alvarez was inexperienced, weight-drained and too slow and passive to be a true threat. Robert Guerrero is much the same with the exception of experience. Victor Ortiz was a head case with a questionable chin and ring I.Q. Shane Mosley was old. At the time, Juan Manuel Marquez was too small and slow at welterweight.
But despite losses, Khan represents a fighter unlike any Mayweather has faced in years. He’s tall and fast, experienced and skilled. And unlike Guerrero, Alvarez or Ortiz, Khan is well-rested, not coming off a fight and in tremendous shape.
“The poll, I definitely think [Mayweather was hoping] Maidana was going to win that. The poll makes it more convincing, so he can say, ‘Look, the fans want to see it. That’s the reason. I’m giving the fans what they want,” opined Khan.
Khan said he was fine with losing out on the fight if the poll had been fair if Mayweather had been true to his word.
“I probably would have put my hand up and said, ‘You know what? That’s fine,’” said Khan. “‘End of the day, we are people’s champions and if you want to be a people’s champion, you have to listen to the fans.’ Well, Floyd didn’t do that this time. He misled the fans in a way by saying, ‘I’ll pick who you say.’ They picked me and he didn’t go with that pick, so it’s something Floyd has never done before.”
Khan was also surprised that the best boxer in the world would pick Maidana, who has been beaten by Khan at 140 pounds and by Devon Alexander at 147 pounds not too long ago.
“Or what was his excuse?” wondered Khan, “that he is fighting on Cinco de Mayo [weekend] and he needed…Maidana is not Mexican, so I can’t see it being that.”
The fact is fans and media find it easier to buy and sell a fight with Marcos Maidana, a fighter who has lost but did so on his feet and with his senses on point. In Maidana, they can root for the underdog with one-shot knockout power and none of the speed or craft to deliver it against a defensive master like Mayweather. They can root for the man who beat Adrien Broner, a fighter who had done nothing at all at 140 or 147 pounds.
Khan was more political in his assessment.
“Or maybe it was the win over Broner. Maidana had a great win. I take nothing away from him. Who knows? Maybe in the future, I will get my chance to fight and show the world what I can’t [show] Floyd Mayweather [right now] and show the world what I can do,” he said.
Khan feels he is ready for his close-up under the bright lights of a pay-per-view fight. At this level, it’s almost not about the fight anymore. It’s about the characters and the supporting casts they bring.
“It’s what people would want to see, really. What sells the fight is what they see on the documentary. Like on the ‘All Access,’” said Khan, referring to Showtime’s pay-per-view infomercial reality show. “When they see how hard Amir Khan works, how good he is looking in training and what my personality is like, I mean, I am a people’s champion. People take a liking to me and they’d want me to win. Then they see the styles and they will see the different styles, what I have and what I bring to the table against Floyd Mayweather. Other guys, who have slow footwork, slow hands, so Floyd is able to hit them and be quicker than them. This time, Amir Khan is quicker than them in foot and hand speed.”
While Khan has been stopped before, he has never been stopped at 147, a weight his naturally larger frame might be better suited to. Dehydration to an unnatural weight class can cause all sorts of havoc on the brain and body. At 147, Khan looks healthier, stronger and just as fast. He’s been giving a lot of solid work to Alfredo Angulo, who is preparing for Saul Alvarez this weekend. You don’t hang in there with “El Perro” with just speed.
“So I think with Floyd, he doesn’t have the power to knock me out,” assessed Khan, “then it becomes a technical fight. And when it becomes technical, we know what we can do. That is one of the reasons I took so much time off so I can work on myself as a fighter. My own style, improving the defensive side, [my footwork].”
For now, Khan meets with Showtime and Golden Boy Promotions this week to see about his future. Having his own TV contract with the network, Khan has his own dates to worry about now that he is out of the Mayweather sweepstakes this year. Mayweather tends to fight in May and September. Khan will be barely recovering from Ramadan by late August/Early September, so he would not be ready for that date. If Golden Boy decides to move Saul Alvarez to September, a Mayweather-Khan outing in late-2014 is possible.
And as for the offer to face Broner on the undercard May 3rd?
“FM is full of shit. Just like ’ my next opponent ’ Poll,” tweeted Khan in response. However, later, he added, “If @AdrienBroner wants it let’s do it. Maidana knocked him down twice. Il (sic) knock him out!”
The focus in the immediate future is staking a claim at welterweight: Broner, Porter, whomever.
“I want to cement my place in the 147 [pound] division. I will have to take on any guy out there. That’s the type of fighter that I am,” said Khan. “I have never ducked away from any fight, even if it’s in their hometown. I’ve left a lot of money in the U.K. to come over because I want a legacy. I want to capture a title at 147.”
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