Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao
Amir Khan can come in from the cold.
Britain’s former world light-welterweight champion seemed to have been frozen out when twice jilted as an opponent by Floyd Mayweather Jnr. He will be back in business – big business – to meet the winner of the upcoming Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao mega-fight.
This is why there has been such a lukewarm response from Khan to suggestions that he will be in a summer showdown with Britain’s new IBF world welterweight champion Kell Brook. It won’t happen. Instead Khan now knows he has bigger fighting fish to fry and may take a warm-up bout on the 2 May bill in preparation for his dream date with either Mayweather or one-time spar-mate Pacquiao. With the proviso, of course, that there is no autumn return match for the prodigious pair.
Both have intimated that Khan is next in line – and it is an engagement that he will relish with both of boxing’s Sunshine Boys, already well into their twilight years, now about to knock bits off each other in Las Vegas. He believes he is capable of beating either, and some agree.
Khan is still a big draw here. The audience for ITV’s boxing comeback with the Carl Frampton-Chris Avalos world title fight in Belfast peaked at two million. When ITV last screened a Khan fight, six and a half million tuned in even later at night.
Imagine Chelsea and Spurs arguing the toss almost up to the kick off over who should be the referee and his assistants in last weekend’s Capital One Cup Final, with one team refusing to play unless the officials of their choice were selected.
Yet such was the comparable scenario backstage at London’s O2 on Saturday night when Chris Eubank Jnr’s fight with Russian Dmitry Chudinov for the latter’s World Boxing Association Interim World Middleweight title was on the brink of being called off before it started.
The astonishing situation was this: The mutually agreed contract stated that there should be all neutral officials. This was what the Russians had insisted upon and the Eubanks were happy with it. Consequently officials from Sweden, Poland, Finland and Panama appointed by the WBA had been flown in and were there ready to officiate. The British Boxing Board of Control wanted at least two officials – namely the referee and one judge – to be British.
Learning this the Russians dug their heels in. No neutral officials, no fight. It developed into a sort of Mexican – or rather Russian – stand-off. It was a crazy situation, with heated words being exchanged in both languages. What really worried me as well as the police and security people at the time was what might happen had we had to tell the crowd there would be no fight.
It was a relief when, with the Russian camp ready to walk out, we managed to contact the Board’s general secretary, Robert Smith. The Board agreed it could go ahead with the neutral ref and judges, thus averting what could have been an ugly situation.
Having said all this I felt that the Swedish referee allowed the Eubank fight to linger far too long before stopping it in the final round. A British ref almost certainly would have stepped in sooner, and saved the Russian unnecessary punishment.
Eubank gave his most impressive performance to date in acquiring the Interim belt and has set himself up nicely for an eventual re-match with Billy Joe Saunders. What a blockbuster that will be.
Paul Butler is a little fellow but on Friday night he aims to become one of boxing’s big shots. With luck and the adroit application of his blistering combination punching, the mini-Merseysider will step into the sport’s history books as the first Briton in over a century to drop down a weight division and win a second world title.
They call the former IBF World Bantamweight champion, who challenges South Africa’s IBF World Super-Flyweight champion Zolani Tete at the Liverpool Echo Arena, the Baby-Faced Assassin. With good reason. Outside the ring he’s among the nicest young men you could meet, but once inside it he becomes a merchant of menace. He looks to do serious damage with every punch he throws.
Several British greats have gone up through the weights, but only heavyweight Bob Fitzsimmons has achieved the feat of dropping weights, from heavyweight to light-heavyweight to become a dual world champion, which he accomplished back in San Francisco in 1903.
The New Zealand-born ‘Ruby Robert’, as he was known, was actually ultimately world champion at three weights, middle, heavy and light-heavy, which may give the ambitious Butler something another target to aim for in the future.
For me, Butler is one of our best young fighters pound-for-pound. If he was a heavyweight we’d be raving about him. After tonight, I believe we will be.
Belfast Telegraph Digital