COMMENTARY | From the WBC's decision to place Amir Khan in the no. 2 slot in their most recent welterweight rankings, it looks as though the former two-belt world junior welterweight champ from Great Britain may be preparing to test the waters in the 147 lb. class.
As testament to the utter irrelevance of the sanctioning body's rankings, Khan has never actually competed at welterweight, so the top two placement is dubious, at best. Some could even argue that no. 2 at junior welter, where Khan has fought the majority of his career and scored his biggest wins, would be a little generous after a 1-2 record in his last three bouts. But the Mexico City-based outfit has seen fit to push Khan ahead of thirty-eight other full-time welterweights in their rankings and, as a result, has placed him in a position where could challenge for a title almost as soon as he would like.
Khan's last bout, a one-sided RTD 10 win over lightweight import, Carlos Molina, was an effort to rebuild some of the confidence lost after back to back losses against Lamont Peterson (SD 12) and Danny Garcia (TKO 4). It was also Khan's first bout under the guidance of new trainer, Virgil Hunter, who replaced Freddie Roach following the Garcia loss.
The talented fighter has long been rumored to have an eye for the welterweight division, but the assumption was that he'd first get things worked out at the 140 lb. limit before making the climb to a division where the bodies are a little bigger and the punches are heavier.
The decision to move could've come after surveying the junior welterweight scene and finding an overcrowded, high-end division with lots of legitimate world class talent coming from all areas as well as a new crop of talent on the verge of breaking through.
When confronted with fighters like Danny Garcia, Lucas Matthysse, Lamont Peterson, and Brandon Rios, the decision may have been made to move up in weight and regroup a bit among the less jam-packed ranks of the welterweight class.
The 147 lb. division is extremely solid at the elite level, with Floyd Mayweather, Juan Manuel Marquez, Manny Pacquiao, Timothy Bradley, and Robert Guerrero making up the top five, but significantly less impressive in the second and third tiers. Khan could easily settle into a comfortable spot among the division's lesser fighters and feast on relatively easy prey while regrouping and/or looking to cash out with a high profile bout against one of the elites.
The move by the WBC also opens up speculation as to whether Khan may be in line for a shot at Mayweather, who remains the organization's full welterweight champ, despite not having competed at 147 since September of 2011. It's widely rumored that Robert Guerrero is next in line for Mayweather, on a scheduled May 4 date in Las Vegas, but it's conceivable that Khan could've been given his top two spot with an eye on 2014.
That would mean, though, that the WBC is somehow running interference for specific fighters-- Not exactly a foreign concept to fight fans who are familiar with the curious decisions made by boxing's sanctioning organizations.
It's a shame that any governing body's rankings have to be viewed with such suspicion, but the WBC opens themselves for these jaded jabs by assigning a ranking for, apparently, no other reason than because a fighter has decided he wants it. And given Golden Boy's seeming preferential treatment in keeping Saul "Canelo" Alvarez safe, sound, and well-protected as WBC junior middleweight champ, it's easy to make the assumption that another of their fighters, Khan, could be given similarly "friendly" treatment.
In boxing, who you know is more important than what you know. In Khan's case, the kid is talented and can certainly generate money, so all of those who can possibly make a buck off him will gladly accommodate his every whim-- even at the expense of the credibility of the sport, itself.
Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and a close follower of the sport for more than thirty years. His work can also be found on Fox Sports and as Editor-in-Chief of The Boxing Tribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing. For breaking news, additional analysis, and assorted crazy commentary, follow him on Facebook, @TheBoxingTribune or on Twitter, @BoxingBTBC.
The WBC world welterweight rankings