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Khan before a storm, pride before a fall

Amir Khan Devon Alexander Khan vs. Alexander Khan-AlexanderBy Ian Goodwin: This Saturday night at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas, former two time WBA, WBA and IBF Light Welterweight British champion Amir Khan (29(19)-3-0) will get back in to the ring looking to impress in what a tough test against Devon Alexander (26(14)-2-0) for the WBC Silver Welterweight title (TBC) and to underline his claim for a potential super fight in 2015 against the current P4P king & Champion Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Despite Bolton born “King” Khan’s professional record including victories over former world champions Marco Antonio Barrera, Zab Judah, Luis Collazo, Julio Diaz, Paulie Malignaggi & Marcos Maidana, many still hold a (legitimate) question mark over Khan’s heart & resilience after knock out defeats to arguably weaker opponents in the division.

I’ll share my analysis of the fight for you to discuss between yourselves, but lurking behind the press conference, in the shadows of arena corridors and floating above the fine wood of the negotiation tables, a question mark hangs over the ‘business’ decisions and rationale behind this fight (something I will deal with in a separate article directly at a later date).

The Fight
I’m personally not familiar with Alexander other than having seen his fights against Bradley, Maidana and Porter; he’s clearly tough and talented to hang with the top guys in the division; he handled ‘the old’ Chino with seemingly less trouble than Khan (who, two years prior, nearly got cleaned out by Maidana’s power at a lower weight); he gave Bradley a good fight until the stoppage (due to a trademark Bradley headbutt); but then lost to Porter undermining his top level credibility.

I wasn’t close to the Porter Alexander fight at the time – were there mitigating circumstances that a more informed fan could help explain? – but on paper that reads as a soft defeat in light of ‘the great’ performances in Alexander’s previous bouts.

Khan is a world class talent. His hand speed and power are up there with the best in the division. A fighter can’t learn ‘punch resistance’; you can learn to defend but you can’t change how you react when you catch a clean, hard shot and see stars.

Khan’s legs shake like Elvis, his eyes roll, he curls up behind weak defence, and in doing so looks venerable, hurt and gives any referee a reason to step in, fact (that compared to a fighter like Carl Froch, who’s natural reaction when hurt is to stand up, look focused and fight back).

If Amir Khan, the fast, strong and sharp talent, hungry for his career defining fight, gets in to the ring I can see a wide victory on points or even Alexander’s first Stoppage by KO.

If it’s a rusty, under-prepared and tentative Khan with signs of inactivity against top class opposition, hesitant to control the fight, desperate to land big shots and leaving his weak chin open for the hooks that Alexander landed on Maidana all night years ago, it will be a short and embarrassing end to his career.

For the record I’m backing Khan (currently 1/3 favorite outright) to win by decision.

Now to focus on my other point of contention…

The Business
The build up to this fight in the UK has been mooted with little press coverage and public excitement; I’m undecided but suspect this is due to either –

1/ Khan doesn’t have the support or interest of domestic fans and over-promoting a fight that isn’t a guaranteed return to glory for him would result in a complete loss of home team support and confidence if he loses.

2/ Golden Boy promotions and Oscar De La Hoya have made an odd error of judgement in choosing to aim their media and promotion cannon towards the U.S. with the rather myopic view of PPV sales revenue and building American interest in a future Mayweather fight with Khan, at the expense of UK revenue (or ‘buys’).

I’ll let you make your own decision on these points. But I’d call this is an error of epic proportion on the part of the networks and promoters involved.

Stop for a second and ask “how are TV sales of a fight judged and reported?” Revenue or sales?

Consider this; PPV’s in the U.S. cost $70 and the biggest fights hoping for 1m buys, the maths are simple, but it’s the volume of sales that are reported & lend to a fighter’s credibility.

In the UK a PPV costs £20 ($30) any sells equal volume (with obviously lower revenue). Froch Vs Groves II sold 800,000 in the UK. You all saw the Klitschko viewing figure of 10m reported last week. (I remember Eubank vs Benn in the 90’s being watched by a reported 1 BILLION TV viewers!)

Is the ‘Money’ era therefore coming to an end? I know for absolute fact that the egos in business are much bigger than those in sport, and there come a time when even money on the table, no matter how many millions are at stake, is insignificant to business rivals with locked horns.

In my experience, while those egos become distracted by the size of each other’s, ahem, influence, they lose sight on the bigger picture.

It’s going to be tough getting anywhere near 1m domestic PPV sales if the current trend of international talent continues.

It’s going to take a lot more than a red haired Mexican or a ‘great black heavyweight hope’ to turn the tides in this writer’s opinion.

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