Amir Khan Isn’t Worth $1.25 Million Per Fight (Yet), And It Isn’t Just HBO’s Problem

Rick Reeno’s done some interesting reporting over at BoxingScene (usual caveats about clicking on BoxingScene links apply) on the monetary difficulties posed by the $1.25 million guaranteed minimums Golden Boy has promised junior welterweight Amir Khan. His latest piece takes the angle that HBO is to blame for that ridiculously high figure for a boxer who is completely unproven in America.

HBO has something to do with it, for sure. One has to wonder how much longer that deal HBO signed with Golden Boy for a set number of fights and dates will last. I can’t imagine anyone likes the damn thing anymore, and nobody but HBO or Golden Boy ever thought it was a good idea from the start. But it makes it so Golden Boy can offer bigger minimums than other promoters based on the belief that HBO will pick up the tab. That, though, is where HBO’s responsibility stops. HBO, you see, only offered $1.5 million for the entire May 15 Khan-Paulie Malignaggi show according to Reeno, and that put the fight in jeopardy.

Why would HBO offer more than $1.5 million unless it really had to? I’m not aware of the obligation HBO has to buy dates AND pay a specific high price. Golden Boy may have thought it could offer Khan such a big minimum based on its HBO deal, but it would have been unwise to assume HBO would pay any old price Golden Boy wanted — unless HBO somehow committed itself to a blank, infinite check that I’m not aware of.

Look, Khan, as talented as he is and as much potential as he has, isn’t a million dollar-plus boxer in the United States yet. His skill level, his Olympic pedigree, his top-notch trainer Freddie Roach and an interesting bio (Khan is a England-bred Muslim of Pakistani heritage) give him some of the ingredients of a future star here. But at the same time, he hasn’t done much more than appear on a U.S. undercard or two, and until he fights and beats a big puncher, people here are going to be skeptical of whether that 1st round knockout loss in 2008 was more indicative of who he really is than the stellar 2009 he had, which came mostly against opposition that couldn’t test his chin.

Golden Boy’s HBO deal gives it a competitive advantage against other promoters to allow it to offer higher minimums, yes, and Golden Boy used that to sign Khan. But $1.25 mil is simply too high. HBO was a contributor to that. But Golden Boy assumed too much. It strikes me as everybody’s problem. Everybody better hope Khan turns out to be worth the money and trouble, or there’s going to be more than just this mess on their hands.

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board ( He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.