Home Columns Mayweather’s next fight: Why Amir Khan is a more dangerous opponent than...

Mayweather’s next fight: Why Amir Khan is a more dangerous opponent than Marcos Maidana

Credit: Tom Casino / Showtime

Contrary to Popular Opinion, Amir Khan is A Bigger Threat to Floyd Mayweather than Marcos Maidana:

Floyd Mayweather, Jr. is conducting a fan poll to determine his next opponent between Marcos Maidana and Amir Khan. Never mind that neither of those fighters would be on anyone’s short list of desirable Mayweather opponents. Apparently, Maidana is in the lead and considered by many to be the more attractive opponent of the two.

In terms of excitement-value, it’s hard to deny the nod might go to Maidana. That also applies to which of the two fighters is more deserving. Whereas Khan is trying to rebuild his name after a rough patch, Maidana is coming off a dominant win over Adrien Broner in what was his career-best win. With Broner in the role of Mayweather clone, the progression is natural for “El Chino” to now face Mayweather himself.

In terms of having the best chance to beat Mayweather, Khan might be the better candidate. He certainly has his share of flaws, both in terms of his weaknesses in the ring, as well as his iffy credentials, being 2-2 in his last 4. He lost to Lamont Peterson under dubious circumstances, before getting hammered to a 4th round TKO defeat by 140-pound king Danny Garcia. In his last fight, he barely got by the resurgent Julio Diaz. That’s not a recent track record that would normally inspire confidence, especially when scouting possible future Mayweather foes.

It’s all about styles. Maidana has certainly distinguished himself as a top fighter and his overall Q-rating rightfully surpasses Khan’s at this point. But Maidana may be too crude to pull it off. We’ve seen Mayweather against this type of opponent already. In fact, many of his opponents had a lot in common with Maidana–willing, strong, ballsy, and aggressive fighters who have mostly been schooled by the supreme boxer of this generation.

Khan at least offers a different look. A little longer than Mayweather, he could employ more of a speedy, long-range approach. His talent is undeniable. He is swifter and springier than Maidana and dare I say, more gifted. His main issue is his chin and not to say that Mayweather can’t hit, but power isn’t really his calling card. It’s possible that Khan could give him some problems. With Maidana, I’m afraid we’re looking at a fight where he gets out-maneuvered at every turn en route to a 12-round loss that is devoid of thrills.

I can’t help but think back to Sugar Ray Leonard’s 1991 fight with Terry Norris. Like Mayweather, Leonard was aging. He took on what was seen as a talented but flawed fighter in Terry Norris. The image of Norris getting cold-cocked by Julian Jackson was still fresh in people’s minds. Sure, Norris was obviously talented, but his chin would betray him. Norris, whose 26-3 record is similar to Khan’s mark of 28-3, ended up using his gifts and speed to easily defeat Leonard.

Let’s be clear though — Mayweather is nowhere even close to the Leonard of 1991. He’s a far-fresher fighter. While Khan is a talented fighter, he has shown a weaker chin than what Norris had shown by the time he climbed in the ring with Leonard. Khan has been stopped and wobbled by far lesser punchers than the massively hard-hitting Julian Jackson. There are still similarities to the two scenarios, namely in how Khan and Norris were perceived as mega-talents whose vulnerabilities were too much to ignore.

There are reasons why Khan doesn’t currently occupy a top placement in the sport, despite having the necessary talent. At the top level, his chin is frankly garbage. After getting demolished in the first round by Breidis Prescott in 2008, it looked like he was becoming adept at camouflaging his Achilles heel. It all came crashing down against Garcia. Against Diaz in his last fight, his chin almost let him down again and he seemed to be falling apart a bit mentally, like maybe he’s lost his mojo.

With that said, he has an exponentially better chance of beating Mayweather than Maidana. It’s not because he actually beat Maidana before, something people seem to have forgotten. It’s how his style gels with Mayweather’s. Facing a non-puncher in Mayeather, Khan’s boxing skill, physical gifts, and speed can at least theoretically trouble Pretty Boy Floyd. Maidana will be more like a tree limb being fed into a wood-chipper.