Amir Khan targeting Keith Thurman, Manny Pacquiao & Danny Garcia
By Mark Eisner: Amir Khan is eager to return to the ring after a long 12-month layoff from the ring, and he’s eyeing fights against Keith Thurman, Manny Pacquiao, and Danny Garcia. Even Kell Brook and Conor McGregor are contests that interest the former IBF/WBA light welterweight champion (34-5, 21 KOs)
The 33-year-old Khan wants to get back in the ring, fight two more times and then call it a day. For Khan, he’s frustrated right now with the pandemic getting in the way of his plans for 2020.
The Bolton native had hoped of getting in his last two matches this year and then retiring. But the way things are looking right now, Khan may need to put off his retirement plans until 2021.
The good news for Khan is he has an excellent chance of fighting in front of a live crowd this year. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has revealed that they’ll be allowing fans back into stadiums in the UK starting in October.
With that said, they’re going to test it out in August and September to see if it can be safely done. Requiring all fans to wear masks is likely one of the requirements for them to be allowed into the stadiums.
If crowds can return to boxing events, it makes Khan’s chances of fighting this year against Pacquiao, McGregor, Thurman, Brook, or Garcia are good.
Khan wants to get back in the ring
“I want to get back in. I’ve started my training camp again in my own gym,” said Khan to BT Sport. “I’m quite lucky I’ve got my own gym.
“I’m itching to go because I wanted to get my last few fights out of the way, and then call it a day and walk away from the sport. I am getting a little bit older.
“I’m 33 now. I wanted to get a couple of fights this year, but now the whole year is almost gone, and I’ve had no fights. I’d definitely like to mix it with the top guys. I’ve been in the top 10 in the world for the last 12 years.
“It would be nice to fight someone in the top 10, and maybe fight someone for a title once again. You’ve got the likes of Danny Garcia there, Keith Thurman there.
“You’ve got some good names that I still want to mix myself in with, and let’s see how this goes and plays once this is all finished,” said Khan.
If Khan is serious about wanting to fight Thurman, Garcia, or Pacquiao, he needs to start planning right now. He can’t afford to wait because those fighters will likely sign for a fight against someone else. Danny Garcia is already slated to face IBF/WBC welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr this year.
Pacquiao could wind up taking on Mikey Garcia, although there’s no agreement between them. Thurman is open to offers from any of the top fighters in the 147-pound division, including Kell Brook.
It would be a good idea for Khan to be open-minded about his next fight, and no close the doors for fighters like Brook. Those two need to fight because they’re running out of time to make this clash happen.
If Brook is the only big-money option for Khan this year, then he needs to grab it with both hands before he retires.
Pacquiao clash still interests Amir
“I’m not going to chase it,” said Khan on a fight against Manny Pacquiao. “If it falls into my lap, then I’ll take it. What a fight that would be. There’s so much we can talk about in that fight because we trained together, and we sparred over 300 or 400 rounds of sparring with each other.
“We know each other quite well. Yeah, man, I’d love that fight. I think I know a lot about him, and he knows a lot about me. That would be another good one, but if it happens.
“There’s always been talk about it, but it’s never seemed to materialize. That was nonsense,” said Khan when asked about the rumors that Pacquiao had put him on his backside. “I was never put down by Manny Pacquiao.
“We hurt each other in sparring. Manny didn’t spar anyone that was as quick as me, and that could move that well and the height as well. I was a lot taller than him. At the same time, I never fought anyone as quick as Manny Pacquiao and could move like him,” said Amir.
The pandemic would make it problematic for Khan to get Manny Pacquiao to agree to fight him, as he’s a senator in the Philippines, and it would look bad if he struggled this year.
Pacquiao is interested in becoming the president of the Philippines. So if he were to choose to fight in 2020, some of the constituents at home might see that as a selfish thing to do with pandemic killing so many people in his country.
Pacquiao will likely resume his boxing career in 2021, as long as a vaccine is produced and available for people around the world.
Khan wasn’t 100% for Crawford
“First of all, I wasn’t 100% in that fight,” said Khan on his fight with Terence Crawford. “I had a hand an elbow problem, and I couldn’t straighten my right hand.
“But the money in that fight was so much that it was hard to turn down. You never know it would ever happen again. When you’re talking tens of millions, I would need to fight three fights to make that kind of money.
“In training camp, I hurt my below and hyperextended it. I tried to get treatment on it, and I tried to get cortisone for it, but I wasn’t allowed that because of the drug testing. My range of movement wasn’t there.
“I still went in there, and adrenalin takes over. I was going in there to give my best. Crawford is one of the best I’ve faced, and his boxing IQ is amazing. I have respect for him, and it was great to share the ring with such a great champion.
“You have a large group around you when you’re winning, but when you lose, you’re done. That’s when they’re looking for the next person to jump on the bandwagon with. I’ve had close friends that I thought were for life that has left.
“You think these people are always going to be with you through thick and thin. I never thought that would happen to me. I’m always nice to people. And I’m never a person that says no to anyone. I’m always a yes guy,” Khan said.
Khan fought surprisingly well in his sixth-round knockout loss to WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford in April of last year. He was giving Crawford problems up until he was hurt by a low blow in the sixth round.
It would have been exciting to see how Khan would have performed had he been 100% healthy for the fight. All we can do now is speculate on how Khan would have performed if he’d not come into the match with the Nebraska native with a couple of injuries.
Khan: I tried to make the Brook fight
“The reason the Kell Brook fight hasn’t happened is because Kell Brook,” said Khan. The reason I got with Eddie Hearn was to get the Kell Brook fight. I tried to make the fight.
“Negotiations started between us. We’re talking numbers and pay-per-view splits. Everything started to go through Eddie Hearn. The next thing, he went up to 154. It was quite ironic.
“We were in negotiations for a fight for 147 for it to happen. My guy moves up to, and that left me puzzled. Why did he just move up to 154? Then he makes a statement that he wants to campaign at 154.
“He’s finding making weight hard. That wasn’t because I was taking a long time to negotiate. The negotiations started, and we were deep in negotiations, and then he moves up. Out of the blue, this happened.
“Obviously, Eddie Hearn being his promoters as well, he has to look after his fighters. He wanted to fight at 154. I thought he might then consider coming back down, and then he makes a claim that he’s not going to come back down to 147. See, I made the mistake of going up and down weights.
“I’ll never do that again. For me, 147 pounds is the weight, and I’m going to stick to that. I didn’t move away from the fight. When the negotiations first started at 147, that’s where Kell decided to go up to 154.
“So really it’s not me that’s hiding away from that fight. And then I had no choice to go for the fight against Terence Crawford, and then I had the big Saudi fight as well. I opened the doors to Saudi Arabia.
“I’ve always thought clean, and that’s why all these avenues have opened up for me. All these doors open up for me, and I get a good purse. Look, if that fight [against Brook] was out there still like I said, the 147-pound division is the weight division it has to be,” said Khan.
Josh Taylor will do well at 147 – Amir
“I think he’ll have a good future at 147 because he’s got a good boxing IQ as well,” said Khan of Josh Taylor. “He’s quick on his feet, quick on his hands, boxes well, fights well, and he’s got good power.
“I think a lot of fighters have that fear when they move from 140 to 147 that they’re going to lose power or they’re not going to be as strong. I think Josh should go for it because if he starts thinking about it too much, I think ‘Am I going to be strong enough?
“I’m going to be fighting heavier guys that are coming down from 160 or maybe even 170. I think he’ll do amazing. And I don’t think he’ll find any problems in that division. I think he’ll do really well and blend into it quite well,” Khan said.
IBF/WBA light welterweight champion Josh Taylor has two more fights left a 140 before he moves up to 147 in 2021. He’ll be defending against his IBF mandatory Apinan Sakkreerin next, and then facing WBC/WBO champ Jose Ramirez in a fight for the undisputed 140-lb championship.
Taylor has the youth, size, power, and the boxing skills to do quite well at 147. He could be the next star in that division. By the time he moves up to welterweight in 2021 or 2022, he’ll be ready to grab the baton from Crawford to be the #1 guy in the weight class.
Khan interested in Conor McGregor match
“Yeah, the name is mentioned all the time,” said Khan when asked if he’d be interested in fighting Conor McGregor. “I’m not one to say no to it. It’s such a big fight. It would be massive if that fight ever happened.
“I’m now towards the end of my career, and I just want to have my last couple and then call it a day. I’ve had a brilliant career, and I’ve done better than I ever thought I would do.
“The way that my career has gone, I’m happy with it. I’m going to move onto something else,” added Khan.
Conor McGregor vs. Khan would be a huge match-up in boxing, as it would attract a lot of fans from that sport as well as the MMA. Whether McGregor, 31, would be willing to face Khan is the big question. He might want to target a bigger name like Floyd Mayweather Jr, Canelo Alvarez, or Manny Pacquiao.
You’ve got to think that McGregor will exhaust his efforts at getting a bigger name before he looks to face someone like Khan.
McGregor fought well in losing his pro debut against Mayweather in 2017. In the 10th, McGregor ran out of gas and was stopped on his feet.
Mike Tyson might get hurt in comeback
“It’s nice to have Mike [Tyson] come back,” said Khan. “He’s such a legend. One thing about power it never goes from a fighter. The power will always be there. Maybe he might get tired a little quicker.
“The body’s not the same physically, but the power will be there. But really, you don’t want to see a legend come back because you’re always one punch away from getting hurt as well.
“I wouldn’t want to see him come back and get beat by a nobody. He’s had a brilliant career. I do feel for him. He’s probably missing what the sports are giving now. The amount of money that’s in the sport now, and the amount of hype that’s in boxing. So he probably misses that,” said Khan.
The 54-year-old Mike Tyson will be fighting some exhibition matches soon, and boxing fans will get a chance to see if he has anything left. If Tyson does poorly, it’s likely that he’ll end his comeback and go back into retirement.
Tyson must limit the number of rounds for his first exhibition match to three or four. His stamina is likely to be weak after years of inactivity and smoking.
He might not be able to do more than two rounds without gassing out badly. When Tyson is exhausted, he’s vulnerable to getting beaten even by marginal fighters. We saw that in his defeats against Danny Williams and Kevin McBride in 2004 and 2005.
Khan favors Fury to beat Joshua
“I think it would be a brilliant fight,” said Khan about the Anthony Joshua vs. Tyson Fury fight being talked about for 2021. “It’s hard to say. You’ve got Fury that is a better boxer and a more skillful fighter, and then you’ve got Joshua, who is a bigger puncher.
“I think if Joshua lands one early, he might put him down. You’ve seen it with Fury getting put down before. He’s got up from having huge knockdowns, so it shows that he’s got a good chin, and he can recompose himself. But also you have the Olympic background with Joshua.
“I think that might help on his side. Look, it’s a 50-50 fight. I think it’ll be a massive fight in British boxing. It needs to happen, and I think it’ll be brilliant for our sport. Yeah, definitely. I think AJ’s best chance is to go in there and go for the kill, really.
“No respect there. Just go in there with both hands blazing, and go and try and catch him with a good shot. Yeah, it would be quite hard and quite difficult, but I just feel that he’s got the power to do that. Whereas Fury is a good all-around boxer.
“He’s well rounded, and I’m sure he’ll keep it on his own game. But, as I said, in boxing, especially in the heavyweight division, one punch can change a fight. You’ve seen Fury get put down, and he’s gotten back up again. Does AJ have the power to keep him down? Who knows?
“That shows that he can change his style and come forward and go back and box both ways,” said Khan about Fury changing his fighting style against Deontay Wilder in their rematch last February.
“Yeah, that was a brilliant fight. He [Fury] boxed really well. To me, he is the #1 heavyweight in the division. So, I don’t feel that Joshua has been tested like Fury has been tested, so I favor Fury more in that fight,” said Khan.
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