As Bolton’s Amir Khan prepares to fight former world champion Chris Algieri in New York on Friday, it seems the American is the only fighter he isn’t getting asked about.
Kell Brook, Manny Pacquiao, Adrien Broner, Miguel Cotto, Saul Alvarez and, of course, Floyd Mayweather were all discussed as future opponents during a conference call with British hacks last week.
But Khan was keen to insist that his ‘whole focus is on the Algieri fight’ – a catch 22 fight for which he will not attain much credit in winning, but will surely struggle to recover from should it be the fourth defeat of his 34 fight career.
This may seem unfair – as well as being a former WBO Light-Welterweight Champion, Algieri’s only defeat came against Pacquiao, widely heralded as one of the great boxers of his generation.
But the manner of the American’s defeat at the merciless hands of Pacquiao indicates that Khan should very much be classed as favourite come May 29.
Pacquiao put Algieri on the canvas six times in their fight back in 2014, and although the 31-year-old made it to the final bell that time, Khan expects to end the fight sooner than his Filipino rival was able to.
“I want to do that one better obviously,” said Khan.
“I want to be the better man, be the better fighter, and beat him in a better way than his last opponent beat him.
“He won’t go down six times with me, I throw punches with power, a lot more than Pacquiao.
“It’s been a while since I knocked someone out. It could happen in this fight, but I’m not going to go looking for it.
“He’s going to come to fight and he’s going to be a new Algieri that we’ve all not seen before, because I know what a difference it makes when you’ve got a new trainer.
“I think it’s going to be a very fast paced fight, but if he comes forward, if he tries to fight me, that could be the biggest mistake he makes.”
To say that Khan is feeling confident ahead of the Algieri fight would be an understatement.
Although he recognises that he has been guilty in the past of focussing more on securing more illustrious bouts in the future rather than on avoiding the man swinging hooks at his face there and then, he knows that he is currently operating at a level that he has not previously surpassed in his career.
Gone are the days when a youthful Khan would forget his lightning speed and dazzling technique to engage in a mindless scrap with men who are more adept at brawling then boxing.
The 28-year-old flaunted his new found self-control in his last fight against Devon Alexander, a former two weight world champion who Khan comprehensively out-fought, out-thought and out-classed.
And the 2004 Olympic silver medallist attributes this development to being ‘older and wiser’.
“Adrenalin used to hit me and make me do something without thinking,” Khan admitted.
“Now I think about everything I do and I’m controlling myself.
“If I compare myself to where I was five years ago I’m way ahead of where I used to be and I think the Devon Alexander fight showed that.
“Against someone who threw a lot of punches but is also very awkward, he’s given everybody problems, I did everything right.”
However, even Khan’s insistence that the Algieri fight is all the matters right now couldn’t prevent conversation turning to the future.
It is common knowledge that Khan is desperate for a tilt at Floyd Mayweather, who extended his record to 48 fights unbeaten in a bout with Pacquiao earlier this month that was labelled ‘The Fight of the Generation’, but was about as memorable as Steve Buscemi’s cameo in Pulp Fiction.
Mayweather has stated that he will fight for his last time in September – a month that Khan finds difficult due to his Ramadan commitments.
The Boltonian flatly rebuked the rather unusual concept of him being able to change when Ramadan was taken – ‘that can not be done and it’s not true, I can’t change the rules’ – but did insist that he could find a way to work around it if the fight was in late September.
Nevertheless, he did make it clear that should the extremely lucrative bout with Mayweather not arrive, he has plenty of options, with Pacquiao, Broner, Cotto and Alvarez all piquing his interest.
He was less flattering when discussing domestic rival, and IBF Welterweight World Champion, Kell Brook, who will be defending his world title against Birmingham’s Frankie Gavin the night following Khan’s fight.
“I’m not even interested in the [Brook v Gavin] fight,” Khan said flatly.
“Kell Brook says he’s a World Champion but look who he’s fighting.
“I fought a lot of the top guys when I was world champion, that’s what it means to be the world champion, fighting the best fighters in the world.
“But it just shows how confident he is as world champion, a world champion has to be confident about going fighting the top guys in the world.
“That’s his problem, he’s not a world champion.”
Those words are sure to rankle with Brook, who himself has designs at a fight with Mayweather, but is surely behind his compatriot in the pecking order, due to Khan’s stature in the sport and his recent form in the ring.
And Khan, somewhat predictably but by no means without justification, thinks that he has done more than enough to have earnt the right to a stab at dethroning perhaps boxing’s greatest ever technician, and the eye-watering pay packet that goes with it.
“I think this is the last hope now,” Khan admitted.
“If it happens it happens, if it doesn’t happen then there’s other fights out there. I’ve done everything I’ve been asked to.
“They’re talking they’re going to fight me, they’re going to fight me, but when it comes to do that they don’t want to take the fight, they’ll go out and take another fight but not fight Amir Khan.
“If they think it’s going to be an easy fight, they know it’s going to make them a lot of money so why aren’t they taking it?
“He’s fought Maidana twice. I’m a bigger name than Maidana, I’ve been and beat the guy.
“Deep down you know they don’t want the fight because they know it’d be such a big problem, it’d be a tough fight for them and they don’t really want to risk that sort of fight.”
Perhaps Khan is right. Perhaps Mayweather doesn’t fancy a tilt at the one man in boxing who could match him for speed, can outwork him, can possibly take that unbeaten record from him when he is so tantalisingly close to matching the great Rocky Marciano on 49 and 0.
But one thing is for sure – if Khan doesn’t do a professional job on Chris Algieri in New York on Friday night, then Khan’s dream fight with Floyd Mayweather will have to remain a thing of his dreams for the rest of his career.
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