By Jeff Aranow: Amir Khan says he’s ready to fight welterweight champion Keith Thurman and clean out the 147-lb. division in 2018. Khan, 31, says he’s ready to make a comeback this year after being out of boxing since 2016.
Khan (31-4, 19 KOs) says he’s fully prepared to start fighting again. On Khan’s short-list of the top fighters a welterweight, he’d like to face Thurman, Danny Garcia, Lamont Peterson, Errol Spence Jr. and Adrien Broner. Before Khan looks to setup a fight with one of those fighters, he’ll be inside the ring in March for a warm-up type of bout to get his timing back.
Khan has some ring rust to shake off, as he’s not fought since his 6th round knockout loss to Saul Alvarez in May 2016. That fight didn’t end well for Khan, but he gave a good account of himself before getting knocked out in the 6th. As bad as Khan looked in the fight, he still had his moments before getting flattened by Canelo. Khan says that no one in the welterweight division could do to him what Canelo did, because they don’t have the size, power or the quickness.
It’s a tall order for Khan to beat Keith Thurman and Errol Spence Jr. Those guys are looking very good right now. Spence might be the best at 147. Khan would be wise to build his way up to the level of Thurman and Spence by facing Lamont Peterson and/or Danny Garcia in rematches, and show that he can beat those fighters. If Khan can get past Peterson and Garcia, then he can target the best at 147 in Spence and Thurman. Khan lost to Peterson in 2011 and Danny Garcia in 2012. Peterson is about to be softened up by Spence in their fight this month on January 20. It would be good timing for Khan to go after Peterson in his next fight after the contest with Spence.
“I’m going to be fighting around March, maybe towards the end of March,” said Khan via Fighthype. “I’m inspired. I’m motivated. It’s time to get back to work again and do what I do best, and get back into the ring. It’s time for another world title,” said Khan.
It’s down to the wire now for Khan. He cannot put off his career any longer without him ruining it. He’s been out of action for too long of a period for him to let any more time go by without fighting again. There aren’t a lot of welterweights that have been able to stay out of the ring for 2 years and come back to fight at a high level. Khan at least is still young and quick enough to have success in his comeback. Sugar Ray Leonard stopped fighting for long periods of time in his career, and he still did well when coming back against the likes of middleweight champion Marvin Hagler. If Leonard can do it, Khan can do it if he can dedicate himself enough to fight more than once a year or once every 2 years. The question is does Khan still have enough love for boxing for him to be successful with what’s left of his career?
”No excuses,” said Khan. ”Get right back into it. If you look at the 147-lb. division, it’s definitely ticking. You’ve got Keith Thurman, which I’d love to have. You’ve got [Errol] Spence. You’ve got the [Danny] Garcia rematch, and the [Lamont] Peterson rematch. There a lot of big names that I know are there to be taken,” said Khan.
It sounds like Khan is trying to talk himself into getting excited again. He’s talking about “no excuses,” which sounds like he’s trying to motivate himself for an ordeal that he’s not looking forward to. Just the fact that Khan has put his career off for the last 2 years says a lot about his motivation for boxing. If Khan truly loved the sport, he wouldn’t have procrastinated as badly as he’s done in 2016. Khan had plenty of opportunities to fight again, but he chose not to.
It’s true what Khan says about there being a lot of big names at 147 for him to fight. But he’s going to have his hands full attempting to beat them. Khan didn’t look sharp in his win over Chris Algieri in May of 2015. Khan made Algieri look like a big puncher. Aligeri was able to walk Khan down and get the better of him in the second half of the fight. Khan won by a 12 round decision, but he didn’t finish strong against a guy that had no power in that fight.
”A lot of people tell me, ‘You lost,’ but Canelo is a big, big guy, and one of the best pound-for-pound fighters. Yes, I lost. I was smaller against him, but guess what? I know I was beating him on the cards. A lot of people know I was beating him on the cards. Obviously, size matters,” said Khan.
Any fighter in the 147-lb. division would have problems dealing with Canelo’s size, speed and power. There’s nothing wrong with Khan getting beaten by him. The only guys that would have a chance of giving Canelo problems from the welterweight division are Thurman, Terence Crawford, Spence and Shawn Porter. Danny Garcia would likely be too small and reliant on his left hook to give Canelo any troubles. Spence, Thurman and Crawford would give Canelo big problems. They might even beat him if they could stay in the pocket long enough to wear him down. Spence would try and force Canelo into a war that would make him fight harder than he’s capable of doing. Thurman would use his hit and move style to try and out-box Canelo. Crawford would box Canelo as well, and follow the Mayweather blueprint in how to beat the Mexican star.
”At 147, I don’t think anyone can push me like Canelo did, because Canelo is a big, big guy,” said Khan. ”So, what I’m saying is the 147 division is the one that suits me.”
Spence and Porter would look to push Khan in the same way Canelo did by applying a lot of pressure. Khan would likely have more problems with Spence than he did with Canelo, because he’s more fearless, and more devoted body puncher. Khan would need to use a lot of evasive movement to stay out of the wheelhouse of Spence. Before Khan thinks of fighting any of the top guys like Spence and Thurman, he should get a few tune-up fights under his belt before he gets inside the ring with them. It would be a move doomed for failure for Khan to fight Spence or Thurman in his second fight of the year. Khan thinks he’ll be fine after he takes one tune-up in March, but it’s doubtful that he’ll get much from that fight. When a fighter has been out of the ring for an extended amount of time like Khan has, they need a lot of time to get their timing and conditioning back to where it was previously, if that’s even possible.
”I’m going to clean up the division, and I’m going to become world champion again. Mark my words,” said Khan.
If Khan could move back down to 140, he might have a chance of cleaning out that division. Terence Crawford has moved up in weight to 147, and there’s no one especially talented to fill the gap that he left behind. Mikey Garcia is moving up in weight to 140 to challenge IBF light welterweight champion Sergey Lipinets, but that’s just for one fight. Garcia will be moving back down after that. Khan’s main competition at 140 would be guys like Amir Imam, Maurice Hooker, Lipinets, Antonio Orozco, Rances Barthelemy, Kiryl Relikh, Regis Prograis, Viktor Postol, Josh Taylor and Jose Carlos Ramirez. Khan will have a tough time beating any of those guys, but you can argue he’d stand a better chance against them than he would Thurman or Spence at 147.