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Hearn: Khan shouldn’t be fighting if he can’t beat Lo Greco

Image: Hearn: Khan shouldn’t be fighting if he can’t beat Lo Greco

By Scott Gilfoid: Eddie Hearn is counting on former world champion Amir Khan (31-4, 19 KOs) being able to do a job on junior middleweight gatekeeper Phil Lo Greco (28-3, 15 KOs) this Saturday night in his comeback fight at the Echo Arena in Liverpool, England.

Khan is coming off a 2-year layoff and bad knockout loss to Saul Canelo Alvarez. Hearn believes he’s got the right opponent for Khan to be successful in his first fight of his comeback, but he’s not quite certain though. With Khan’s chin issues with him being knocked out in the past by Canelo, Briedis Prescott and Danny Garcia, he could fall apart at some point on Saturday night if Lo Greco lands one of his slow but heavy punches to the head. It’ll obviously make Hearn look bad in the eyes of a lot of boxing fans, because he’s the one that added Lo Greco’s name to the list of fighters for Khan to pick from.

“I think he’s a world class welterweight,” Hearn said to IFL TV about Khan. “Phil Lo Greco usually has 2 weeks of training for his fights. Here he’s had 14 weeks [of training]. There’s always a perception among fighters that all I have to do is hit Amir Khan on the chin and then I win, and that’s what Phil Lo Greco will be doing. He’ll want to exchange with Amir Khan, and he’ll want to trade. That’s how he feels he’ll win the fight,” Hearn said.

Hearn is technically right when he says Khan is a “world class welterweight,” but you can argue that he’s more of a fringe level world class guy at best. I mean, you can’t lump Khan up there in the top five at 147, because his chin is too shaky for him to be rated as a top five or even a top 10 guy. In my estimation, Khan is more of a bottom 15 type of contender at 147. He’s likely still capable of beating the slow, weaker punchers in the top 15, but not the guys that can punch and have some talent.

I don’t know if Hearn really cares too much about where Khan sits in the big scheme of things at welterweight. I get the impression that this is more about getting Khan that big money fight with Hearn’s fighter Kell Brook. Hearn is hoping to make the Khan-Brook fight at some point in 2018. If Khan implodes in that fight, which many boxing fans expect him to, then at least Hearn will have gotten that huge money fight out of the way before he walks away into the sunset.

”Amir boxes on emotion; that’s how he got beat in the past,” Hearn said in trying to explain why Khan is continually knocked out when facing the better fighters. ”That’s how he got beat by Danny Garcia. He got carried away. He left his chin exposed. Amir wants to do a job on Phil Lo Greco, and I know it, because you don’t say what he said at the press conference. That doesn’t go away,” said Hearn.

Hearn is getting a little too much mileage out of the incident last January between Khan and Lo Greco. That was where Lo Greco made a comment about Khan’s wife at the kickoff press conference that led to him being doused with a glass of water. Khan has since said that he’s going to punish Lo Greco for that. I don’t know how much more Khan can do to Lo Greco than he’s already going to do. The fight is supposed to be a mismatch, so what more can Khan do to him?

The moment the fight was first signed, it had knockout for Khan written all over it. The only thing Khan can do to really punish Lo Greco would be for him to string it out as long as he can so that he can give him a pounding, but I doubt that he’ll be able to hold back. Khan likes to show off too much with his combination punching, and if he does that against Lo Greco, he’ll probably stop him quickly on Saturday.

Khan does box on emotion, that’s true, but I don’t think that tells the whole story about why he was beaten in the past by Garcia, Prescott, Canelo and Lamont Peterson. Khan lost those fights more because of his weak punch resistance, and his inability to handle being pressured by his opponents. Peterson didn’t know Khan out in their fight in 2011, but he wore him down with body punching and pressure.

Khan couldn’t mentally handle the pressure from Peterson, so he opted to bend the rules by shoving him constantly. The fight didn’t even look like a real boxing match. It looked more like a playground fight where one kid shoves the other one nonstop. Khan deserved to be penalized by the referee twice in the fight for his shoving of Peterson.

”Amir has to stay disciplined,” Hearn said. ”He should be dealing with guys like Phil Lo Greco. If it’s the same Amir Khan, there’s no problem. If he isn’t, then he could be in trouble against Phil Lo Greco. The truth is no one knows what Khan has left. He may be just as good or better. I believe he’s the exact same fighter just with more hunger now back at his proper weight,” Hearn said.

Khan likely has enough left to beat the 33-year-old Lo Greco on Saturday. It obviously helps that Khan and Hearn have picked out a junior middleweight to boil down to 147. That should weaken Lo Greco enough to render him harmless. But even with Lo Greco likely weakened from coming down seven pounds from the 154 lb. weight class, he still could be very dangerous for Khan to deal with in this fight. We don’t know whether Khan’s punch resistance has been weakened from his last knockout loss to Canelo. That wasn’t a routine knockout loss. Khan was literally knocked out cold by Canelo in May 2016, and a knockout like that is cause for concern. A lot of fighters aren’t the same when they get knocked out the way Khan did by Canelo. The thing is, this wasn’t the first time Khan was knocked out in that manner. In his fight with Prescott in 2008, Khan was knocked out in the same way in the 1st round. Khan was able to come back from that bad knockout loss and win for the next three years before he was beaten again. Maybe it’s possible that Khan will be fine on Saturday and not show any lingering after effects from his knockout by Canelo.

“He’s a good fighter with excellent speed,” Hearn said about Khan. ”He’s very clever and he should be too good for Phil Lo Greco. It’s just the unknown and everything that has happened that gives Phil Lo Greco good chance. If he can’t beat Phil Lo Greco, then he shouldn’t be fighting, because he can’t win world titles,” Hearn said.

Let’s get one straight. Khan isn’t going to win anymore world titles in my opinion. I don’t know what Hearn is talking about. There are no world title belts that Khan can scoop up at 147. If Hearn throws Khan in the ring with IBF champion Errol Spence or WBA/WBC champion Keith Thurman, it’s probably going to end badly for him. Heck, I think even WBO champion Jeff Horn would do a job on Khan. WBA ‘regular’ champion Lucas Matthysse would be sad news for Khan. I’m guessing that Hearn is going to try and match Khan up against the winner of the July 15th fight between Matthysse and Manny Pacquiao. Both of those welterweights are old and showing signs of being over-the-hill. But even an old 39-year-old Pacquiao and 35-year-old Matthysse are probably far too dangerous with their punching power for the likes of Khan to beat them.

”Phil Lo Greco is a perfect world class gatekeeper,” Hearn said. ”You beat Phil Lo Greco to show you’re an elite fighter. You do it well. If you’re not, you don’t beat him. If you’re the British champion, you don’t beat Phil Lo Greco, but if you’re a world class fighter, you should be beating him nine times out of ten. It’s going to give us the perfect yardstick to see where he [Khan] is,” Hearn said.

I don’t agree at all that Lo Greco is the perfect gatekeeper. I think he was a decent gatekeeper three years ago when Spence fought him in 2015, but not now. Lo Greco has put on weight, and he’s not fighting a lot nowadays. Lo Greco only fought once in 2017, and that was against a journeyman. Lo Greco is not a gatekeeper. He’s a 2nd tier fighter heading to journeyman status.

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