By Scott Gilfoid: Coming off of two years of inactivity a terrible knockout, Amir Khan (31-4, 19 KOs) has a great deal of pressure on him tonight to not only beat Phil Lo Greco (28-3, 15 KOs) in their catch-weight fight at 150lbs but to look good in doing so, according to Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn.
Khan is in a tough spot where he has to shine against his 33-year-old opponent Lo Greco, who was picked from the lower level ranks for Amir to get a sure thing win and look impressive. The problem is if Khan struggles to defeat Lo Greco, the boxing public is going to immediately pounce on him and label him as an over-the-hill fighter just making a comeback for a cash out fight against former IBF welterweight champion Kell Brook.
Hearn doesn’t help matters in that regard by being in such a hurry to make the Brook vs. Khan fight. Hearn wants to make the Brook-Khan fight next. Normally promoters want to bring back a fighter slowly after they’ve been out of the ring for 2 years before they put them in a big fight, but Hearn is using the opposite approach, and that looks to me like he’s worried that Khan or Brook will get knocked out again.
Obviously, the Khan-Brook fight won’t make nearly as much money as it could if Hearn waited a year before putting them in with each other, but he doesn’t want to wait. Hearn is moving in light speed to make that fight by the end of the year if not sooner.
“Inactivity is horrific for your career,” Hearn said to IFL TV in talking about Khan’s 2-year layoff from 2016 to 2018. “There are some fighters in the U.S, whose inactivity is shocking. It’s disgusting and they’ll never progress to where they should be, but to be out two years and to come back from a knockout…There are some fighters who are out because their promoters can’t get them dates. This guy has been out because of a knockout. Coming back from that knockout was always going to be difficult, but to do it after two years is really difficult. I think Lo Greco’s team is kind of thriving off that, thinking, ‘we can do this,’” Hearn said.
What Hearn isn’t talking about is the fact that Khan’s career started slowing down long before his 2-year layoff from boxing. Khan started to slow down after his 4h round knockout loss to Danny Garcia in 2012. Khan hasn’t been the same busy fighter since then. I hate to say it but I think Khan’s loss to Garcia caused him to lose interest in the sport. Instead of focusing on his career, Khan began to travel all over the place, acting more like a retired over-the-hill fighter than a world class guy that had simply been dealt with a bad setback.
Khan’s 2-year layoff from the sport after his loss to Saul Canelo Alvarez in 2016 was utterly predictable. I said it to myself at the time that Khan would likely set out of the ring for over a year before he returned, and I was right. I didn’t think Khan would throw away 2 years of his career though. That move surprised me a little. I figured that someone would have gotten in Khan’s ear and told him that he needs to get off his backside, stop traveling around the world, and get back to work. Oh well, what’s done is done. Khan will never get those two years back. He’s thrown them away. The only thing Khan can do now is try to learn from the experience.
If Khan keeps disappearing each time he gets blasted out, he’s going to finish his career. At this point, I doubt that Khan is even 50 percent the fighter he was in 2012. Khan’s deteriorating skills won’t be as evident tonight because he’s facing a slow 2nd tier fighter, who is dealing with his own inactivity problems. Lo Greco fought only once in 2017, and he’s been inactive for the last 10 months. Before that, Lo Greco had been inactive for 1 year. For all intents and purposes, Lo Greco’s career has ground to a half since 2016. That’s when he stopped being an active fighter. When Hearn and Khan picked out the Canadian Lo Greco for this fight, he was fat and looked more like an out of shape truck driver than a fighter. It was surprising that Hearn and Khan would pick out an over-weight inactive guy like Lo Greco, but they’re obviously looking for an easy mark rather than someone that is a real threat to beating them.
”A prime Amir Khan beats Lo Greco 98 times out of 100,” Hearn said. ”Amir Khan coming off of a knockout and inactivity for 2 years, it’s a different kind of fight. He’s a big favorite.”
Hearn is wrong. A prime Khan beats Lo Greco 100 out of 100 times. Khan is a better fighter than Lo Greco all around. Even after two years out of the ring, Khan is a huge favorite to win the fight, because Lo Greco is dealing with his own inactivity. I mean, it’s not as if Hearn picked out an active guy for Khan to fight tonight. This is like how Golden Boy Promotions selected an out of shape inactive James Kirkland to fight Saul Canelo Alvarez in May 2015. Before that fight, Kirkland had been out of the ring for a year and a half, and he had a gained a lot of weight. Lo Greco does have a chance to win tonight due to Khan’s inactivity. What gives Lo Greco the chance to win the fight more than anything is the devastating knockout loss Khan suffered against Canelo in 2016. Fighters suffering knockouts like that sometimes experience reduced punch resistance.
”There’s pressure to win and look great,” Hearn said about Khan. ”If he looks great, then we’re cooking with gas. It’s always important to look good. We don’t want questions to be asked after the fight. ‘Amir, he didn’t look good.’ After this fight, I want people on social media to go, ‘Wow.’ That’s the pressure for Amir Khan; not to just look good but to look good doing it,” Hearn said.
Hearn is kidding himself if he believes the boxing public will get excited if Khan looks good beating Lo Greco. The opponent isn’t good enough for Khan to get a lot of credit. That’s the basic problem. Hearn picked out such a beatable guy that it’s going to keep Khan from getting the credit he normally would receive after one-sided victory. For the fans to be impressed, Khan needs to at least be fighting a contender from the 147 or 154 pound weight class.