Amir Khan: What Brit can do to re-invigorate ailing careerWritten by Leroy Cleveland
A popular, quasi-mainstream international athlete, ultra-talented boxer Amir Khan has thus far failed to thrust himself into the sport's upper echelon of powerbrokers.
He's popular and respected, although underrated, but has never had the level of star power enjoyed by fighters such as Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao, Miguel Cotto, Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin.
Nearing 31, his career seems to be unraveling. He was brutally KO'd by Canelo is his most recent bout and hasn't fought since. And in the year and a half since he last stepped in the ring, his significant family drama has played out in the public like one big, horrific soap opera.
Who needs All My Children, Dallas and Dynasty when you have the Khan family? Let's face it, JR Ewing would be impressed.
Amir Khan is at a crossroads in his career. He's still young enough and talented enough to be a megastar but has enough baggage, inside and outside the ring, to easily fade away into obscurity.
And history is not on Khan's side. The sport is replete with talented fighters who have become irrelevant before their time. By continuing to fade out of public consciousness, he's not doing himself any favors by staying on the sidelines.
Given his accomplishments in boxing and level of name recognition in the UK, Pakistan and among Muslims in the US, Khan already has a strong foundation from which to rebuild.
What can Amir Khan do to inject some much needed "juice" into his career?
1. Move on from Mayweather and Pacquiao
Khan should stop pandering to Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao as fights with those outgoing stars will never materialize. If Amir is still saving himself and refusing potential opponents in hopes he'll lure one of the big boys into accepting big money superfight, he should quit. He's wasting his time. There's no upside for Floyd or Manny in facing Khan.
2. The drama
A little drama isn't always bad for a fighter. When Mike Tyson was in his prime, the ring was his safest place. In fact, boxing was seemingly an escape for all the craziness around him. Moreover, because the drama kept him in the news, his fights were always 'events of high interest,' even to the casual sports fan.
Mayweather also seemed to feed off of controversy.
But how much drama is too much? Khan doesn't have to fix his personal life quickly and in totality. He must, however, make sure the chaos doesn't get out of control or he'll be too consumed with that to focus on boxing. The public Twitter spat he engaged in with his wife was over the top.
3. A few tune-ups
When attempting to rebuild their stature and increase their stock fight often, fighters sometimes take the 'tune-up' route. They look impressive (albeit against low and mid-tier opposition) and build a case for an eventual high-profile, big money showdown. George Foreman employed a similar approach during his comeback as did Julio Cesar Chavez, Roberto Duran and Hector Camacho, Larry Holmes and many others late in their respective careers.
Although some fans would balk, Khan should consider at least 2-4 tune-ups before facing a big name again. By the time he enters the ring next, he will have been out of action nearly 2 years or more. Moreover, should he accept a superfight straight away, it's questionable if Khan would be prepared enough mentally to face a big name live in front of millions. It's easy to spar in the gym; But fighting on the big stage under the lights and cameras is a totally different story.
Khan should seek to get 'his groove back' by impressively dispatching 2-4 tune-ups within a year's time. If successful, Amir would be sending a strong message to the public: "King Khan is back!"
A string of impressive wins, even against mid-level opponents, would propel Khan's stock value more than most because he is already accomplished in the sport. Hence, he's defeated the likes of Marcos Maidana, Zab Judah, Paulie Malignaggi, Devon Alexander and Marco Antonio Barrera and has proven his elite pedigree. And with 2.24 mil and 4.3 mil followers on Twitter and Facebook, respectively, Khan is already a well-known quantity with a large fan base.
At this moment, Khan vs Kell Brook in the UK is seemingly Amir's biggest fight due to the British connection and a few years of bad blood between them. However, potential 2019 super showdowns with Keith Thurman, Terence Crawford, Errol Spence, Danny Garcia and even Mikey Garcia should be considered should each of them remain hot. And if one fight isn’t significantly more lucrative than the next, Khan should face the opponent whose style presents the least threat. (He might want to avoid Spence or Crawford unless the purses for facing either of them is substantially higher)
And who knows? By then, there could be more powerbrokers in the division.
When in top form, Khan has the skills, speed, ring IQ and athleticism to be a nightmare for anyone at welterweight. If Amir can forget about facing Mayweather or Pacquiao, get his personal life under control and look good in a series of 3 or 4 tune-ups over the next year, he'll generate a lot of buzz and open the door to lucrative, must-see showdowns.