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Amir Khan faces Terence Crawford on April 20

Amir Khan Terence Crawford

By Tim Royner: Amir Khan’s promoter Eddie Hearn isn’t happy with the announcement of his April 20th fight against WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford on ESPN PPV, as he wanted him to fight Kell Brook next. Khan-Brook is a bigger money fight than Crawford vs. Khan, and Hearn thinks that it could potentially keep the Khan-Brook fight from happening.

Hearn had previously said that it was “now or never,” as far as the Khan vs. Brook fight, and he still believes that, which means that if Amir loses to Crawford on April 20, then it could be the end of any discussion of a big money fight with Brook.

Crawford vs. Khan still doesn’t have a venue, but Top Rank boxing promoter Bob Arum is looking at possibly staging it at Madison Square Garden in New York. The fight will take place on April 20 on ESPN PPV, starting at 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT.

“I always said that it was now or never. I stand by that,” said Hearn to about the Khan vs. Brook fight. “If he [Khan] produces a good performance and Kell Brook continues to win…He’s massively up against it. fight doesn’t look good, and I think it’s a shame, because I’ve wanted it for five or six years.”

Hearn signed Khan with the idea of making the Brook fight, which would have been a tremendous money maker for both fighters. Hearn did his part in putting Khan and Brook in with two tune-up fights against lesser opposition, which they beat without any hiccups in 2018, but suddenly, Khan decided he didn’t want to make the fight with Brook for whatever reason.

There will news conference this Thursday in New York for the boxing fans to attend to see Khan and Crawford discuss their important fight on April 20 on ESPN PPV.

“I’m delighted to announce a much-anticipated world title fight with Terence Crawford, the current WBO welterweight world champion,” Khan said. “The decision as to fighting Kell Brook or Crawford has been one of the most difficult decisions of my career to date.”

The decision for Khan to fight Crawford for less money but more of a reward in terms of sporting accomplishment was a tough one for him to make. Khan could have made more money fighting Brook, 32, but he chose to take the fight with Crawford so that he could go after his World Boxing Organization 147 lb title. Khan wants to become a two division world champion, and he wants to be known as the guy that defeated one of the best boxers in the sport in 31-year-old Crawford, who is rated #2 by Ring Magazine in their prestigious pound-for-pound ratings.

Hearn says he admires Khan for taking the fight with Crawford instead of the bigger money match against Brook, Khan showed that he didn’t want to duck a talented fighter for the sake of a larger payday against Brook. However, Hearn says Khan has chosen not to give his UK boxing fans the fight that they wanted to see in him facing Brook instead.

From Khan’s perspective, Brook’s star power has dimmed dramatically with his losses to Gennady Golovkin and Errol Spence Jr. In both of those fights, Brook suffered broken eye sockets that led to him being stopped on his feet. Brook hasn’t done much with his career since those two defeats, choosing to take stay busy/tune-up matches against Michael Zerafa and Sergey Rabchenko. Those were two showcase fights that were setup by Hearn to make sure that Brook won and looked good to help increase the interest from boxing fans in a fight between Kell and Khan. Hearn did the same thing with Khan in matching him weakly against Phil Lo Greco and Samuel Vargas. Hearn could have put Brook and Khan in with quality fighters like Shawn Porter, Errol Spence Jr., or Danny Garcia, but they might have lost to them and that would have hurt their big money match.

Khan still wants to fight Brook, but only after he faces Crawford for his WBO title. It’s a brave move on Khan’s part, because almost no one expects him to beat Crawford. The fans, former fighters and current fighters are mostly predicting a victory for Crawford. They overwhelmingly see Crawford stopping Khan. What makes that prediction seem accurate is how badly Khan struggled last September against fringe level fighter Samuel Vargas in getting knocked down by him in round two, and looking less than impressive in inning a 12 round decision.

The wisdom of making Crawford vs. Khan a pay-per-view fight on ESPN has to be questioned. Neither fighter are super popular right now in the U.S, and it’s a strange move on Top Rank’s part to make this fight, of all fights, on pay-per-view. Khan hasn’t done enough with his career as of late for him to be an ideal opponent to be facing Crawford on PPV. Khan was knocked cold by Saul Canelo Alvarez in 2016. Khan sat out of boxing for two years after the loss to Alvarez. In 2018, Khan came back and defeated gatekeeper Phil Lo Greco by a 1st round knockout and fringe contender Samuel Vargas. Those were not great victories for Khan to help raise his popularity in the United States to the level where he should be fighting on PPV against Crawford or anyone for that matter.

Khan’s fight against Canelo in 2016 was a PPV bout that drew 600,000 PPV buys on HBO, but that was largely due to the popularity of the Mexican star Alvarez, and not because of Amir. Top Rank obviously has a number in mind of how many PPV buys the Crawford vs. Khan fight will need to generate before it breaks even. If the fight does lose a lot of money, Top Rank has deep enough pockets to cover the losses. But in the future, they need to focus on matching Crawford against fighters that are more popular than Khan for his PPV fights.

If this was Crawford vs. Canelo, Gennady Golovkin, Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather Jr., then it would be perfectly understandable for the fight to be staged on PPV, but not for Khan. That doesn’t make sense, and it has disaster written all over it. Khan and Crawford are going to need to bring some theatrics to their news conferences in order for them to attract interest from the casual boxing fans in their April 20 fight for it to bring in a lot of pay-per-view buys on ESPN. Crawford is a laid back type of personality, who doesn’t have a great deal of charisma or a gift of gab like some fighters have. He’s not someone like Conor McGregor when it comes to speaking to the media.

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