Amir Kahn hasn't helped his case for a Mayweather fight, dropping two of his last four bouts. ( Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
If anyone is looking for Floyd Mayweather, you can find him inside Amir Khan’s head.
For nearly two decades Mayweather has been the master of the mental game, poking, prodding, doing everything he can to make an opponent uncomfortable outside the ring as he makes them look in it. Khan, the former unified junior welterweight titleholder long rumored to be a frontrunner to fight Mayweather in May, is the latest potential foe to understand this.
To recap: Last December, Khan believed he had a deal to fight Mayweather sewn up. In an interview at Showtime’s Manhattan offices, Khan was practically giddy. While acknowledging that he couldn’t confirm anything, Khan consistently referred to a fight with Mayweather in the present tense. Privately, members of his team said that virtually all the deal points were agreed to.
Things changed quickly on December 14th, when Argentinean slugger Marcos Maidana upset Adrien Broner. Suddenly Maidana—who Khan defeated back in 2010—was a player in the Mayweather sweepstakes. And Mayweather, never one to miss a chance to self promote, took advantage, publicly saying Maidana was a candidate, even putting a poll featuring the two fighters up on his website to give fans an opportunity to vote for their choice.
As the weeks have gone by, Khan has begun to come unraveled. After urging his Twitter followers to vote for him in the poll, Khan tweeted after winning that he was just waiting for Mayweather’s call. There was a measurable desperation in his words. And then, on Wednesday, Khan tweeted this:
Somewhere, Mayweather has to be laughing.
Despite Khan’s surrender, it’s entirely possible he could still be Mayweather’s next opponent. Mayweather is about one thing: Money. Though Maidana offers the more crowd-pleasing style -- and is coming off his biggest win -- he brings little to a promotion. He speaks minimal English which diminishes his value on a U.S. press tour -- To those that say Saul Alvarez didn’t speak much English either, Alvarez is exponentially more popular than Maidana. Khan, on the other hand, is well known in the U.S., popular in his home country of the U.K. and has 1.38 million Twitter followers to sell the fight to. Showtime has been one of the biggest proponents for Khan, as network executives wanted to cash in on Khan’s popularity while he was still a viable opponent.
Moreover, Khan may be a more dangerous opponent. Maidana’s brawling style is a hit with audiences, but it’s a solvable attack. Khan beat him in ’10. Devon Alexander virtually shut him out in ’12. Beating Broner was a nice feather in Maidana’s cap, and he has undoubtedly improved as he has grown more comfortable at 147-pounds. But a wild free swinger would seem to be a tailor made opponent for one of the best ring tacticians in boxing. Khan, on the other hand, brings a different level of hand speed and footwork, albeit with a weak chin.
Whatever happens, Khan has no one to blame for this mess but himself. His sense of entitlement towards a Mayweather fight is mind boggling when you considering he has lost two of his last four fights—a decision defeat to Lamont Peterson and a knockout loss to Danny Garcia—and his two-fight winning streak has come against low level opponents. Khan has yet to fight as a full 147-pounder, yet he believes he has earned a shot at the best fighter in boxing?
Khan put himself in this position, and now he has to live with the consequences. What he should have done was gone forward with a planned welterweight title fight against Alexander last December. Had Khan beaten Alexander, he would have been a strong candidate to face Mayweather. Instead Khan passed on the offer to wait on a phone call that has never come.
-- Chris Mannix