Amir 'King' Khan fights this Friday at the Barclay's Centre in New York as he takes on American Chris Algieri for the WBC silver welterweight title.
The Bolton man is looking to make a statement in order to get his dream fight with pound for pound number one Floyd Mayweather, who is expected to be out again in September. The Olympic Silver medalist began his career in the 147Ib division with a dominating unanimous decision win over former world champion Luis Collazo last May on the under-card of Mayweather's fight with Marcos Maidana.
The 28-year-old dropped the Brooklyn fighter three times and looked impressive. Khan's next bout was in December where he took on former IBF title holder and slick southpaw Devon Alexander. The former two time world light welterweight champion looked classy against the American with his speed and movement earning him a unanimous points win.
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Khan has been after the Mayweather fight for a few years now, although British fight fans would love to see a domestic scrap against current IBF champion Kell Brook, with both boxers voicing their approval towards a mega football stadium showdown. Khan though has recently appeared to disregard a fight with Brook any time soon, instead opting to chase the Mayweather bout.
The speedster believes his fast hands, power and movement can trouble the undefeated number one king, but whilst we all wait to hear who the Mayweather will fight next, Algieri is a fighter who cant be overlooked.
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The former WBO 140Ib champion is a smart ring technician who uses his range and jab effectively with good movement, rarely wasting punches. In June 2014 the former kick-boxing world champion took on the Russian powerhouse Ruslan Provodnikov in one of the fights of the year.
A bad start saw Algieri dropped in the first round and the no nonsense Ruslan kept advancing towards his challenger. Later in the round Algieri dropped a knee to the canvas, opting to take a ten count to gather his senses.
That decision proved to be a very intelligent one as the New Yorker got himself back into the fight, through the rounds using his jab and movement to keep the stalking champion at bay whilst also getting off the cleaner punches. A tremendous show of technical skill, heart, ring sense and toughness Algieri became the world champion, winning a close split decision.
Loss to Pacquiao
The next fight for the American was against the pound for pound number two fighter on the planet, the explosive Filipino Manny Pacquiao. Although you could argue this fight was far too soon for the unbeaten 20-0 fighter, when you have the opportunity to face a boxing legend in China for a vast amount of money it would be hard to turn down.
What looked like a dream come true resulted in a nightmare for Algieri as he was decked six times on route to a unanimous points loss to Pacquiao. Even worse, during the fight trainer Tim Lane was praising his boxer throughout the full 12 rounds, infamously saying at the end of round 10 "Chris I'm letting you out of the cage".
The experience of sharing the ring with Pacman will be priceless and again the American showed tremendous heart in refusing to give up. The move up to welterweight will be interesting and although not regarded as a hard hitter Algieri, with new trainer John David Jackson, may just have the ring craft to unsettle Khan, even more so if the Brit is already looking past his challenger.
Theory suggests that the man from Bolton is looking to do a better job against Algieri than Pacquiao did and in the process make a statement big enough to call out Mayweather as a next opponent.
If a stoppage for Khan was to occur then it would be impressive, especially when Provodnikov and Pacquiao couldn't do it. The choice of opponent in Algieri though (who isn't a recognisable welterweight, doesn't carry bombs or have the hand speed of Khan) is one that has not excited fans.
The WBA regular 147Ib champion Keith Thurman labelled Khan a 'cherry-picker', whilst also saying his rival is 'the most overrated welterweight in the division'. The victory over Collazo looked good from Khan but the Brooklyn fighter at 34 is arguably at the tail end of his career.
Devon Alexander meanwhile is a fantastic fighter but you could also argue is better at light welterweight, having won two world titles in that division. The criticism of the 33 fight professional is that he is yet to fight a fully fledged elite welterweight, which he should do before he gets anywhere near Mayweather.
A bout with Thurman would definitely set the bar, with the American proving to be one of the best in the golden 147Ib division with his recent dominant performance over Robert Guerrero. Adrien Broner has also talked up a Khan bout in recent weeks, but fans will have to wait to see if anything materialises from that.
Path To Glory For Winner
Under the guidance of world renowned boxing trainer Virgil Hunter, Khan has looked a more developed and technical fighter. The tightening of his defence paired with his quick footwork should take the 28-year-old far in the division.
This Friday may be more competitive than most people think. It will take a lot to stop Algieri, who like last June is the underdog going into this contest. As for Amir, with the backlash he has received for this contest, it may be a case of shine bright or say goodbye to being number 49 for Mayweather.