Amir Khan delivered a boxing masterclass to underline his case for a showdown with Floyd Mayweather next year with a near-perfect 12-round unanimous decision win over Devon Alexander in the main event at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
The Briton outclassed his American opponent in the most mature performance of his career, showing vast improvements in technique, timing and defensive nous. It propels Khan towards a stellar 2015, when he could face the unbeaten American Mayweather in May, or Kell Brook, his British rival who holds the IBF welterweight title, in a summer showdown at Wembley Stadium, already ‘held’ for June 13.
Will it be Khan, or will it be Manny Pacquiao, the outstanding Filipino fighter who on Saturday made public his agreement to accept the challenge laid down by Mayweather late last week?
Khan, badly marked around the face, mainly from several head clashes, said: “I believe I’ve shown that Mayweather will have problems with my speed, movement and accuracy. I’m going to leave it to my team and let’s hope we get that fight.”
Khan is acutely aware that Mayweather-Pacquiao is the biggest prize-fight in boxing, expected to generate a quarter of a billion US dollars, and has been an on-off affair for four years.
“Mayweather has reached a dead end. He has nowhere to run but to fight me,” Pacquiao said. “This fight is about legacy, this is about making the fans happy and, above all, this is for the good of boxing.”
However, Khan and Mayweather would be the easier fight to create contractually, both prize-fighters sharing TV paymaster Showtime in the USA, and the same adviser in Al Haymon. But on the strength of this Khan performance, Mayweather may think twice about having to combat the speed of Khan, 28, 10 years his junior. ‘King’ Khan’s majestic display may have just tipped the balance against that contest.
Oscar De La Hoya, Khan’s promoter, was insistent that his charge had shown he is a more than worthy opponent. “It was the perfect performance,” De La Hoya said. “Amir Khan has been patient, and now deserves to get the fight next year with Floyd. It’s the best Amir Khan I have ever seen.”