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Hearn: Khan’s career will be over if he loses to Phil Lo Greco

Amir Khan

By Williams Mackay: Amir Khan is facing the end of his career if he loses to Phil Lo Greco in his return fight against the Toronto native on April 21 on Sky Sports, according to his promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Sport.

Always a straight shooter in telling it like it is, Hearn feels that the 31-year-old Khan (31-4, 19 KOs) will have no place to turn to if he fails to beat Lo Greco (28-3, 15 KOs) in their fight in 3 months from now at the Echo Arena in Liverpool, England. Hearn says that Khan has to not only beat the Canadian fighter Lo Greco, but beat him well. In other words, the fight can’t be competitive. Unfortunately, it could be difficult for Khan to destroy Lo Greco in a one-sided fight considering that he hasn’t fought in 2 years, and that he’s coming off of a knockout loss in his last fight. Normally fighters that are coming off of a long layoff and a bad knockout loss don’t look good in their first fight back. But Hearn feels that the opponent for Khan is so beatable that he must be able to defeat this guy with ease or else it would be time for him to hang up his gloves.

“I think if Amir loses to Phil Lo Greco, it should be the end of his career, because he wants to compete at the highest level possible, and Phil Lo Greco is not at that level,” Hearn said to Fighthype. “He’s got to look really good against Phil Lo Greco, and not just win, but win well. It’s going to be tough because Phil Lo Greco will be here to win, and of course the harder that will be for Amir returning after 2 years out coming back from a defeat,” Hearn said.

Khan probably won’t lose to the 33-year-old Lo Greco. That’s the good news. But as far as Khan looking great against Lo Greco like Hearn expects him to, it might not happen that way. Khan has not looked really good in a fight since his win over a shot looking Devon Alexander in December 2014. That was 3 ½ years ago. Khan looked bad in his subsequent fights against Chris Algieri and Saul Canelo Alvarez. Khan looked good against Canelo for the first 4 rounds, but then he faded in the 5th and got knocked out in the 6th.

It might not go over too well for Khan if Hearn tells him to retire from boxing if he loses to Lo Greco. Khan was talking about him still being in the prime of his career at today’s press conference with Lo Greco. It was all Lo Greco could do to keep from busting out laughing. He was visibly holding back a snicker when Khan told the boxing media at the press conference that he’s still at his best. Khan has a multi-fight contract with Hearn’s Matchroom Sport promotional company. If Hearn wants to give Khan a release from his contract if he loses to Lo Greco, it’s likely that one of the other promotional companies will snatch Khan up right away if only because of his name recognition rather than him still being in the prime of his career.

“Phil Lo Greco just went in beast mode with the personal stuff,” Hearn said about Tuesday’s Khan-Lo Greco press conference. “Amir probably shouldn’t have reacted like that. It makes the fight more interesting. If he came here to get under his skin, then he did a good job. When you start things like that, the game changes,”“I think it was part of his [Lo Greco] his plan. Phil Lo Greco is not an elite world class fighter. What he can do is mix it up at the world level with the right preparation. If Khan is still the same fighter that beat [Marcos] Maidana and [Devon] Alexander, he should beat Phil Lo Greco well. If he’s not, he’ll struggle against Lo Greco. So it’s going to be a good test to see where we’re at. This is 13 weeks of preparation [for Lo Greco]. This isn’t the Errol Spence fight that he [Lo Greco] took on 48 hours’ notice. I’m excited to see where Amir is at, and if Phil can back his mouth up. Amir is going to want to do a job on him, but sometimes when you fight with emotion, sometimes it’s dangerous. That’s what Amir has done before. He’s come out and fought with emotion; definitely in the Danny Garcia fight,” Hearn said.

Even if Khan looks good in this fight and beats Lo Greco in style, the wheels could still come off in his second fight of his comeback this summer if Hearn ups the level of his opponent to someone like Adrien Broner, Josesito Lopez and Sammy Vazquez. Those would be very risky fights for Khan with him history of having chin issues. Lopez and Broner can punch a little. Vazquez can punch as well when he sits down on his shots. Those would be very risky fights for the ring rusty Khan. It’s possible that he loses all 3 of those fights, and then we’re right back where we started from with Hearn letting Khan know that he needs to retire from boxing. The unfortunate thing is Khan needs to win his first 2 fights of his comeback so that he can go into his big money fight against Kell Brook in a good position where the boxing public in the UK will want to purchase that fight because they’ll see it as a fight between two of the best fighters in the UK. If Khan loses to Lo Greco or in his second fight of this year to Broner or whoever Hearn signs for him to fight, then he’s not going to be able to make a fight against Kell Brook for Khan. It won’t be a fight that Hearn can market. Hearn can try and go a quick rebuild job on Khan by putting him in with a number of decent level fighters over a 6-month period before making the fight with Brook. I don’t know if that would work though to get the boxing fans to believe in Khan enough to want to purchase a fight on PPV involving him and Brook.

When asked who Hearn was considering besides Lo Greco for the Khan fight, he said, “Josesito Lopez, Sammy Vazquez, and there’s a list of a dozen people. I looked at Phil Lo Greco for many reasons, but the main reasons are he talked his way into the fight. I thought,’ he’s the guy.’ I expected him to talk it up.” Hearn said.

It’s never a good thing when a promoter picks an opponent for his fighter based more on his ability to talk than his fighting ability. That’s what Hearn did in selecting Lo Greco for Khan. He liked the way Lo Greco talked, so he signed him up for the Khan fight, thinking he’d help sell the fight with his ability to talk it up. But at the first press conference for the fight, Hearn clamped down on Lo Greco when he upset Khan by talking about his wife. Instead of letting Khan deal with the issue himself, Hearn stepped in and told Lo Greco that he needed to keep the subject on boxing. After that, Lo Greco looked like he didn’t feel comfortable speaking anymore, because he was controlled in what he can say. Some promoters would have left it up to the fighters to decide what they would say. They wouldn’t step in and tell their fighter’s opponent what he can say and can’t say.

Hearn seemed overplay his position as the promoter by acting as a moderator at the press conference. If Khan can’t handle dealing with comments made by his opponents, then the glasses of water or any other objects should be kept out of sight during his press conferences, because he can’t be throwing these things whenever he gets his feelings hurt. It’s also not Hearn’s job to tell a fighter what he can or can’t talk about. Hearn handpicked Lo Greco because he liked the way he talks and how he generates interest in his fights, but then he tells him to stop being himself by trash talking less. Hearn should have picked an opponent that would just smile and say nothing during the press conferences with Khan so he wouldn’t get his feelings hurt and start throwing things.

“He doesn’t got to apologize. This is the fight game,” Hearn said in addressing the personal remarks Lo Greco made during today’s press conference about Khan’s family. “You can say what you want. They’re going to fight. When you bring family and wives into it [it’s not okay]. A little bit of water is fine. No one fought anyone. No one punched anyone,” Hearn said.

It’s not really Hearn’s job to tell Lo Greco what he can’t say. That’s not Hearn’s job. Lo Greco should be able to say whatever he wants without having the lead promoter for the event jump on his case to censor him because his struggling fighter got his feelings hurt. Khan should handle it without Hearn jumping in to try and protect him from Lo Greco. Hearn wasn’t protecting Lo Greco when Khan was ridiculing him during the press conference.

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