LONDON: Amir Khan’s goal for 2017 is to secure a big world title fight – but what are his chances, and who will it be against? The former world light-welterweight champion is waiting for his adviser Al Haymon to come up with a warm-up opponent for April or May. Khan (31-4, 19 KOs) has had his distractions outside the ring in recent weeks – including an alleged family bust up – but says he is focused on getting his career back on track. The Briton has not fought since stepping up two weight divisions to challenge Mexican Saul Alvarez for his WBC world middleweight crown last May, when he was knocked out in the sixth round. look at some of his options…
Danny Garcia-Keith Thurman winner
The victor of the world welterweight title unification fight between American Danny Garcia and Keith Thurman (27-0, 22 KOs) at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on March 4 now looks like being Khan’s No. 1 target for 2017. After talks broke down about fighting British rival Kell Brook, Khan says he has always preferred a rematch with Garcia. “They’re both big fights, both big-money fights, but the fight between me and Garcia is something that always hurts me,” Khan told. “I think Garcia is a harder fight than Kell Brook and it’s just that unfinished business I have with him.” There are obstacles to making Khan-Brook – and less to making a bout with Garcia or Thurman, who like Khan are both managed/advised by Al Haymon. For Khan, the perfect scenario would be for Garcia to beat Thurman for the WBC and WBA titles. Khan suffered a crushing fourth round knockout loss to Garcia in July 2012 at light-welterweight but insists a rematch would be different.”I’d be more focused and ready. I wasn’t serious going into the fight. So much was going on also,” Khan said. The chances of Khan fighting Garcia or Thurman in the second half of 2017 are good: he is the No. 1 challenger for the WBC title, held by Garcia.
The two Britons will not be meeting in a ring this spring and you would not bet on them fighting later in the year either after discussions once again proved unsuccessful last month. Khan says he is open to fighting Brook in the future, despite talks for a summer clash breaking down for the second successive year. Khan wanted a 70-30 split in his favour but insists: “My guarantee to him was more then any purse he’s ever made.” “We feel like the split should be 50-50 as Kell is world champion,” said Brook’s promoter Eddie Hearn. “I don’t think the fight is dead, but it probably is for May. I think 60-40 is too wide.” There are other obstacles to making Khan-Brook for later this year: Khan is intent on fighting at welterweight while Brook is contemplating a move up to super-welterweight. IBF world welterweight champion Brook’s promoter Hearn last week said the Sheffield boxer’s next fight is likely to be against his mandatory challenger, Errol Spence. Win or lose, it could be Brook’s last as a welterweight which would also make the chances of a Khan clash further down the line less likely.
The American is ranked at No. 2 behind Khan in the WBC rankings and is well known to boxing audiences in the U.S. and UK. Bradley (33-2-1, 13 KOs), 33, has not been in action since a one-sided decision loss in his third meeting with Manny Pacquiao on April 9. After Top Rank, who promote former two-weight world champion Bradley, and Khan’s influential manager/adviser Al Haymon settled a $100 million lawsuit, the former’s chairman Bob Arum said he and Haymon can do business together. And that could mean Khan-Bradley later in 2017 if other big name opponents are not available for either of them. The former sparring partners discussed fighting each other last year but nothing happened. And there is only an outside chance they will get it on this year, which could be 38-year-old Pacquiao’s last in boxing. The Filipino legend will defend his WBO world welterweight title against Australia’s Jeff Horn on April 23. If Pacquiao (59-6-2, 38 KOs) wins, he is more likely to face Khan’s British rival Brook in October. Pacquiao’s promoter Bob Arum told ESPN last month: “So the idea is if he [Pacquiao] fights in April and he stays in boxing shape we can fight perhaps again in July. “We have an offer in Russia. And then we have an offer and would be interested in fighting [fellow welterweight titleholder] Kell Brook in England in probably October. That’s a big fight.”