Khan vs. Maidana Looks to be a No Go, is Khan vs. Juan Manuel Marquez Next?
Even before the Khan vs. Maidana clash came close to being made, rumor was rife that Maidana was an opponent that the Khan Camp wanted absolutely no part of. It is no secret that Khan’s chin is rather fallible and after being floored by journeyman Willie Limond then incapacitated by Columbian Breidis Prescott inside one minute of the first round; it is perhaps not the world’s biggest surprise that a killer like Maidana is not on Team Khan’s radar. The Argentinean has a phenomenal record of 27 (26) – 1 and is no stranger to destroying hot junior welterweight prospects as he illustrated in his 6 round TKO win over Victor Ortiz.
Khan recently split with English promoter Frank Warren and signed up with Golden Boy in order to enhance his reputation in the United States. It therefore makes sense for Khan’s promotional team to ensure he avoids Maidana at this stage. And since trainer Freddie Roach himself stated that he didn’t want his young English prodigy to get in the ring with Maidana, the writing was on the wall.
Still, the skillful Khan possesses the tools to beat Maidana and if he stays disciplined like he did in his unanimous decision win against Andriy Kotelnik when he claimed the WBA belt (Kotelnik is incidentally the only man to have beaten Maidana which he did by split decision in 2007), the Englishman would give Maidana no end of trouble. It seems however, that talk of this intriguing matchup is – for now – futile.
A fight that seems like an obvious one to be made (considering that Khan is WBA Champ and Maidana is the interim WBA belt holder) will not happen due to boxing politics and shrewd match-making. Maidana is a high-risk, low-reward option and Golden Boy will clearly make far more money if they let this one marinate for a while. But one can’t but help point an accusing finger at Khan for ducking a dangerous fighter if this bout does not go ahead in the near future.
Instead, rumour is rife that Khan will take on Juan Manuel Marquez on May 1 on the undercard of the Mayweather vs. Mosley pay-per-view. Now there is a low-risk, high reward fight for Khan – the exact opposite to what Maidana brings to the table. I say low risk not out of disrespect for Marquez (who for the record I rate as one of the best fighters of the modern era) but because the Mexican is on the downslide and has nothing to prove to anyone.
Marquez has been through wars with the likes of Pacquiao, Morales and Barrera at their peaks and at 140 pounds (where any fight with Khan will almost certainly take place) Marquez would likely be less effective than he is at the lower weights. Plus, an aging Marquez is tailor-made for a young, rangy and fast counter puncher like Khan. [Editor’s Note: Marquez has a mandatory title defence due against Michael Katsidis, and no agreement on the bout or a step-aside clause have been made official. Marquez is eyeing a May return].
There is no way you can count a fighter like Marquez out against any opponent not named Floyd Mayweather but there is a strong argument that Khan will do to Marquez exactly what ‘Pretty Boy’ did and it would be a shame to see that happen to a warrior like Marquez. Marquez should hang up his gloves and be proud of what he has accomplished in the ring. Instead, the brave Mexican might prove just another stepping stone for Khan on his path to boxing royalty.
Marquez is certainly a great fight for the Khan Camp to take and Roach has said he would like that fight to happen (and if Freddie says it is a winnable fight for Khan then it probably is). But it would be a huge shame if Khan dodges a more competitive fight for a more prestigious victory. However, he would not be the first fighter to reach the top through clever match-making and avoiding the most challenging opponents and he certainly won’t be the last.