On the heels of Amir Khan’s drubbing of the anything-but-super Zab Judah, rumblings began to emerge that Floyd Mayweather was being eyed as a potential Khan opponent… in the fall of 2012, of course. I’m really looking forward to that, along with Manny Pacquiao-Brandon Rios in 2013. I hear Canelo Alvarez-Andre Ward at a 165-pound catchweight is in the works for 2015. And Gary Russell, Jr.-Adrien Broner in ’17 shapes up to be a sizzling match-up of two great boxers with speed and power. But sometimes I wonder… what if, heaven forbid, the script should change?
For Amir Khan to realistically be fighting Floyd Mayweather in 2012, you probably have to assume — because mysterious things happen often in this sport — the following conditions:
- Khan does not suffer another loss.
- Mayweather Jr. remains undefeated.
- Pacquiao/Mayweather does not happen.
The first is a given. If Amir Khan loses, his career’s not over by any means but he’s certainly out for a Mayweather fight. Is there a possibility he could lose? Absolutely. His team has declared the plan to be one more fight at 140 lbs. then a move up to 147 lbs. (and even that opponent, Kell Brook, has already been pre-ordained), followed by a mega-fight with Floyd in 2012. Brook is not a great risk in my opinion. The winner of the Robert Guerrero/Marcos Maidana fight is. Should Guerrero get past the tough, rugged El Chino, I have no doubt Guerrero on his A-game gives Khan a very rough night. The “easier” path for Khan would be a winter spectacle against Erik Morales. All due respect to the incredible heart and craft of the wizard from Tijuana but he is made to order for the bigger, stronger and faster Khan. Should Team Amir take that route, Khan should get past Morales and Brook and have a clean slate for fall 2012.
The discussion gets more complicated when you examine Floyd Mayweather’s future docket, and that’s not even considering his legal woes. Mayweather first has to beat Victor Ortiz and that’s not a given. There seems to be a notion that Pacquiao and Mayweather could only seriously be threatened by each other. But a simple glance at the history of this sport and it’s pretty clear: Every great fighter loses if they fight long enough, and it’s not always to an elite opponent. A fighter like Mayweather who relies so much on his lightning-quick reflexes and superior speed is the exact prototype of the boxer who rapidly declines at a certain age. He’s often called a master technician. He’s also a world-class athlete, and no competitor can defy Father Time. It’s a question of when. This attitude that Mayweather’s invincible is almost as optimistic as denying the existence of death. If he fights long enough, he will lose.
Assuming he does get past Ortiz and he’s still running on a full tank, then what? Does Mayweather leapfrog Pacquiao for the third year in a row and just take the Khan fight in the fall? That’s one way it could happen. Can’t you see it now? Mayweather’s legal issues prevent him from fighting Manny in the spring and Pacquiao already has a fall fight scheduled when those legal problems clear up, so Mayweather fights Khan instead.
What if Mayweather/Pacquiao does happen? Shouldn’t that be the plan for Golden Boy and Top Rank, at least as far as Floyd’s involved? So in that scenario, Floyd has to beat Ortiz and Pacquiao… or does he? Probably not, because if Floyd loses a close decision to Manny, a Khan/Mayweather fight is still sellable. But if it’s a close fight, shouldn’t there be a rematch? And if Floyd were to win that, a rubber match?
Why even dangle the Khan/Mayweather carrot when one participant obviously has much more pressing business? Top Rank’s Bob Arum laughably mentioned Rios as a potential Pacquiao opponent for 2013. It seemed like an obvious way to drum up some hype on young Bam-Bam and let him know he’s in the mix for a date with the cash cow somewhere down the road. But in Khan’s case, there were reports of a specific plan, the Guerrero/Maidana winner or Morales, then Brook, then Mayweather. The plan presumes so many distinct variables will fall exactly into place, it’s ridiculous.
This is likely just a case of promoters and managers flapping their mouths to get their guys a little ink and instill a sense that their careers are headed for the promised land, lucrative multi-million dollar pay-per-view outings against the sport’s best. Or it could be indicative of a greater problem in the sport, this predetermination of a pecking order that often leads to preferential treatment and mismatches (although you certainly can’t argue that in the case of Khan and Rios who have been in there with some of the toughest contenders in their divisions). But this idea of a “grand plan” for guys like Khan and Canelo and Mike Jones… is it unthinkable that something could happen to change those things? What about letting the fighters fight the fights and letting the chips falls where they may?
The thing that really riled me is this. Like everyone else, I’ve been rabidly hoping the Mayweather/Pacquiao uber-fight gets made for what seems like years. All signs point to next spring as the perfect time for the mythical bout to occur. Why would anyone be talking about a Mayweather opponent for next fall? It presumes that Pacquiao-Mayweather is a one-and-done if it does happen… and it may sadly be true. Jake Lamotta and Sugar Ray Robinson fought six times, Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier thrice. We can’t get the best fighters of our era to fight once, and if we do, the event will probably be so complicated and the contracts so convoluted it very well could end up being a one-time affair, even if both fighters continue on with their careers. After all, how is Pacquiao going to fight Jones, Tim Bradley, and Rios if he’s waging a trilogy with the man considered his biggest rival?