Amir Khan: I’m at the peak of my career
By Scott Gilfoid: Amir Khan insists that he’s at the peak of his career at age 31 as he prepares for what is supposed to be a tune-up this Saturday night on April 21 against the 5’6” Phil Lo Greco at the Echo Arena in Liverpool, England. Khan (31-4, 19 KOs) was knocked unconscious in the 6th round in his last fight by Saul Canelo Alvarez in 2016, and he’s been out of action ever since then.
Khan believes he’s now a more serious and complete fighter than he was when he fought Canelo. Khan has learned his lesson about mixing it up with his more powerful opponents.
Khan says he’s taking fewer chances now when sparring, and he’s more wary when it comes to getting out of the way of shots. It’s good to hear, but it still might not help him survive for long against the bigger punchers in his comeback. Even Lo Greco might have enough power to get Khan out of there.
Khan says he feels better physically at 31 than he did at 28. Let’s hope for Khan’s sake that he is better because he’s not going to last very long in this sport if he keeps getting knocked out by his opponents.
Khan does have a little bit of an excuse for his latest knockout. He moved up to middleweight to fight a guy much bigger and stronger than him in Canelo Alvarez. However, if Khan had faced a welterweight like Errol Spence or Keith Thurman, he likely would have been knocked out just as bad. With those guys though, they would have had the athleticism and the engine to get to Khan’s chin a lot faster than Canelo.
Khan has never been tested at 147, and you’ll still be able to say that on Saturday because Lo Greco is not a welterweight. He fights at 154 and he’s not one of the better fighters in the division. He was just one of the names that Khan’s new promoter Eddie Hearn put on a list of beatable fighters for Khan to pick from for his fight this Saturday.
“I’m 31, at the peak of my career and I don’t think those knockouts are going to be really bad,” Khan said to ESPN.co.uk. “I feel physically better than I did when I was 28. I’m a little bit more wary, I’m a bit smarter now. I’m letting my skills win me rounds in sparring.”
I hate to say it but Khan sounds like he’s out of touch with reality. His peak past him by in his rear-view mirror ages ago. He’s now just someone getting by on his hand speed, and that probably won’t take him very far.
Khan sounds deluded. The man is not at his peak, and he could get hurt if he believes that he’s still the fighter that he once was. At his best, Khan was able to barely make it past the likes of Marcos Maidana with the help of a referee that prevented the Argentinian from fighting on the inside after he had Khan hurt. There are much better fighters in the welterweight division than Maidana nowadays, and unless Khan is going to steer around all of them, he’s probably not going to do well in his comeback.
As far as Khan’s age goes, it’s doubtful that he’s at his peak. Khan is viewed as being well past his prime of his career, which for him was seven years ago in 2011 when he was 24-years-old.
One area that could limit Khan’s success in his comeback is his conditioning. He’s gotten tired by the 6th round in his last two fights against Canelo and Chris Algieri. If Khan can’t fix that problem in his comeback, he’s not going to beat too many fighters. He might not even beat Lo Greco if he gasses out after 5 rounds like he did against Canlo and Algieri. Khan looked exhausted after 4 rounds against Canelo. Khan started to take punishment from Canelo starting in the 5th, and that was really when it became clear that he wasn’t going to last too much longer unless he got his second wind.
“I’m letting my skills from now on win me fights,” Khan said.
Khan had better be fully focused on using his boxing skills this Saturday night against Lo Greco, because the Canadian is going to be looking to end the fight with a single punch at all times. Lo Greco is going to be highly dangerous inside the ring.
Lo Greco is listed at 5’8”, but it’s clear that he’s at least two inches shorter than Khan. When the two fighters stood side by side recently, the 5’8” Khan towered over Lo Greco. The height could be a factor in this fight if Khan is able to stay at range and bomb Lo Greco with single shots and jabs all night long. Lo Greco is going to need to get close enough for him to land his power shots, and that’s not going to be easy with Khan running around the ring looking to survive, Khan isn’t going to be stationary for too long because he’s well aware that he could get hurt if he stands and has a dog fight against Lo Greco. But it’s difficult for a fighter like Khan to be 100% dialed in for an entire fight. If he slips up at any moment in the fight, it could create an opening for Lo Greco to knock him out with one of his hard power shots.
I suspect that Khan’s punch resistance has gotten worse with his time out of the ring. When a fighter stops competing, they sometimes lose their ability to take head shots. If that’s the case with Khan, it could be a short night for him on Saturday against Lo Greco.
Lo Greco obviously doesn’t have the same kind of punching power that Canelo and Maidana had/have. But he definitely hits as hard if not harder than Briedis Prescott, Julio Diaz and Danny Garcia. Khan was badly hurt by all three of those fighters. Lo Greco only needs to get Khan in his wheelhouse and load up with something big to try and get him out of there early on Saturday. It’s got to be early though, because I don’t think Lo Greco is going to be able to hold up long if he’s hit a lot by Khan.