By choosing to fight Maidana – Jeff Powell’s verdict
Amir Khan has been royally shafted by the king of world boxing.
By anointing Argentina’s Marcos Maidana as his next opponent, Floyd Mayweather has left Khan with a broken promise and a career in need of being fast-tracked back out of limbo.
The Bolton boy was pre-selected as long ago as October to meet Mayweather on May 3 in what would have been the richest fight ever to involve a British boxer.
Lucky boy: Floyd Mayweather was pictured surrounded by girls at his own birthday party
The money man: Floyd Mayweather has opted to fight Marcos Maidana in May rather than Amir Khan
On the front foot: Mayweather beat Canelo Alvarez on points in his last fight
The process had begun a month earlier, at the Las Vegas weigh-in for Mayweather’s clash with Canelo Alvaraez, with Khan being feted on stage.
Two mornings after Mayweather won that fight in impressive fashion, on an American Airlines flight from Vegas to New York, I sat next to the key executive for his US television broadcasters.
He told me Khan had been ear-marked because he would bring something excitingly different to Floyd Jnr’s unbeaten equation – speed – but that it would be unwise for him to jeopardise the Mayweather jackpot by going through with a world welterweight title challenge to Devon Alexander scheduled for December.
Let down: Khan had put pen to paper on a contract to fight Mayweather
Talks began soon after. So keen was Khan to clinch the fight – and so convinced he could win it – that he told his team to ‘give Mayweather whatever he wants.’
Within weeks the terms had been approved by Mayweather’s leading advisers.
Khan did as he was encouraged and pulled out of the Alexander fight, then signed the contract.
So what went wrong?
After it was detailed on this website that the deal was done in principle, that same TV magnate was quoted as denying he had spoken to MailOnline. I prefer not to believe that.
He has always been truthful with me and those reports came from American journalists irked at being caught off-guard by the revelation, which they sought to discredit.
I get knocked down: Khan is put on the canvas by Julio Diaz in his last fight in April 2013
But I get up again: Khan bounced back from his knock down by Diaz
The story, even though Mayweather has now switched to Maidana, was accurate at the time and has run and run thereafter.
It has been suggested that Mayweather was irritated first because the news got out, then by Khan announcing on Twitter that he had indeed signed on the dotted line.
Yet while he is a control freak it is absurd to suppose that a man this intelligent would base so important a decision on such a pathetic emotion.
Khan is accusing Mayweather of ‘running scared.’
The chosen one: Marcos Maidana (left) and not Amir Khan will fight Mayweather in May in Las Vegas
Now while it may seem incongruous that the greatest pound-for-pound fighter on the planet would swerve a young man from Bolton who struggled in his last bout after losing his two world titles, there may be a grain of truth in Khan’s claim.
The most serious questions asked of Mayweather in the ring have been posed by opponents with quick hands and movement. Oscar de la Hoya pushed him to a split decision despite, as veterans are prone to do, fading in the later rounds. Zab Judah, who Khan subsequently stopped, took him the distance.
Ladies man: Mayweather celebrated his birthday earlier this week in the company of his female friends
And although many of the public were sceptical of Khan’s chances several of the game’s sages – Freddie Roach, Manny Pacquiao, Andre Ward and our own Ricky Hatton among them – have been warning Mayweather that the fast young man from Bolton could give him trouble.
Did that seed grow in Mayweather’s deliberations in the intervening months – even while a late January date was set for his appearance in London on the promotional tour, even as Khan was invited to the Super Bowl in New York by US television in anticipation of an announcement the following day?
Doing the business: Khan put Maidana on the floor with a body shot when he beat him in 2010
Epic battle: Khan got the better of Maidana when the two met in Vegas four years ago
Or were the considerations financial?
Did the penny drop that Khan would not be followed to America by an army as enormous as that which used to march with Hatton across the Atlantic? Did they doubt Khan could help drive the pay-per-view subscriptions which feed Mayweather’s minimum $40million-a-fight, six-bout contract with the Showtime network?
If so, they may have miscalculated that Maidana will bring out the Hispanic community. Argentines are far from universally popular with other Latin Americans, while Khan would have brought to the table American Muslims and a pay-TV following in Britain as well as across the Arab world.
Mayweather tried to assess the potential with his online poll asking fans to choose whether he should fight Khan or Maidana. If that was an attempt to justify dropping Khan, it would have come as an awkward surprise that the Englishman garnered 60 per cent of the vote.
Who’s next? Khan could look to fight either Devon Alexander or Adrien Broner in his next fight
As they finally took the plunge with Maidana, his Money Team cited other polls which picked the Argentine. Yet the most significant of those was run by another US television station which obliged Mayweather by skewing the result, setting it in the context of a sustained and hostile campaign against the merits of Khan.
They and Mayweather give credit to Maidana’s recent victory over Adrien Broner while conveniently discounting that Khan beat the Argentine in a 2010 thriller – and neglecting that whatever the outcome his fights are always exciting.
Since Mayweather had long-delayed signing the Khan contract he is perfectly at liberty to box whoever he wants.
Running scared? Did Mayweather dodge Khan because he feared he might lose?
But he can expect to be accused of ducking two men now, Khan and Pacquiao.
Unless, of course, the persistent rumours about the long-awaited mega-fight against Pacquiao finally being agreed for September are correct and he is protecting that $300m bonanza by avoiding Khan’s speed.
Against Maidana, a 37th birthday present he has just given himself, he can be confident of reproducing the master classes against tough punchers which he performed last year against Robert Guerrero and Alvarez.
The big one: Could a super fight between Manny Pacquiao and Mayweather happen in September
Khan, who now admits with hindsight that instead of trusting in a promise he ‘should have fought Alexander,’ has put in months of training for Mayweather and knows he must put that to early use after almost a year out of the ring.
Kell Brook has thrown down a challenge for a battle of Britain but Khan is highly unlikely to respond, just yet. He will now put into action his Plan B, to return at the end of April or early May in America, against one from a list of candidates including Broner, Alexander and Luis Collazo.
Source : Daily Mail