COMMENTARY | Right now, the hardest job in boxing is trying to play matchmaker for Floyd Mayweather. The brain trusts at Mayweather Promotions and Golden Boy Promotions have the difficult task of finding a viable opponent for the five-division world champ who can not only serve as a bankable draw, but can also be sold as a competitive foe for the pound-for-pound champ. Given the landscape of available opposition and the nature of the Top Rank vs. Golden Boy promotional turf war, this task looks to be nearly as difficult as actually beating Mayweather in the ring.
Sure, there are plenty of live bodies out there and if Mayweather were competing as a European fighter in Europe or as a star just one step below his current level, there wouldn't be a problem. Bring on Devon Alexander, Paulie Malignaggi, or Jesus Soto Karass.
But this is Mayweather and this is the biggest of all stages in boxing. Anything less than the very best will be ripped to shreds by the media and passed over by the boxing consumer.
Enter Amir Khan.
The 26-year-old Olympic silver medalist and two-belt former world junior welterweight champion from Bolton, Lancashire in the UK was born to be a star. There's just no denying the charisma present in the young fighter and it certainly helps his salability that he's an articulate, intelligent public speaker with a gift for making headlines. It's indeed a testament to his star power that he's been able to retain a good portion of his drawing ability while being in the midst of a major career slump.
One gets the feeling that everyone at Mayweather Promotions and Golden Boy would just love to find a way to create a major Mayweather-Khan PPV, maybe as a spectacle at a packed Wembley Stadium.
The idea makes infinite sense from a business perspective. The image of Mayweather walking into a sold out Wembley full of screaming fans would be yet another legacy-defining moment in the career of the future Hall of Famer. And him standing on the ring ropes after the fight, victorious and hands held high against the backdrop of tens of thousands of converted fans would be one of those truly memorable moments in the minds of fans and fight historians.
The only problem is that, competitively, Amir Khan is just not a viable option anymore.
The talented fighter with the bright future has fallen considerably and appears to be just small steps away from a permanent exit from the sport's main stage. With a 2-2 record in his last four bouts, Khan's most troubling flaw is an apparent diminishing punch resistance and a fixation on not being hit that has left him frozen and stiff whenever someone does land a punch.
In Khan's most recent fight, he had a life and death battle with faded former lightweight champ, Julio Diaz before taking a close, but unanimous decision. Despite the victory in his record book, Khan looked awful against a pug most true world class fighters would've steamrolled. Rocked several times during the twelve-round bout, Khan barely made it to the final bell.
This is not the type of performance that can help sell Khan as a viable Mayweather opponent.
A solid win over defending IBF welterweight champ, Devon Alexander would go a long way in rebuilding Khan's reputation, at least enough to sell a May showdown with Mayweather, but a win is not a guarantee and the bout, itself, may not be a guarantee to even take place. Recent unconfirmed internet buzz has Khan trying to leap directly into the Mayweather bout without having to face Alexander.
A recent report on FightNews even has Khan listed as the front runner to face Mayweather next, but in Las Vegas and not in the UK, due to tax reasons. The same report has Devon Alexander looking for a December replacement opponent to take Khan's spot.
Mayweather-Khan is going to be a tough sell for a lot of reasons, especially coming off a well-received seemingly risky match-up for Mayweather against Saul Alvarez. On paper, Khan may do better than some imagine, but perception is everything in this business and Khan is perceived as damaged goods.
Consider this fuel to the fire for those looking to brand Mayweather as the ultimate cherry picker.
Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and is the author of Notes from the Boxing Underground. 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.
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