Boxing: Giving Warren the kiss-off
Promoter 'gutted and badly let down' by Khan's defection to United States
For someone who has just lost the jewel in his promotional crown, Frank Warren is being remarkably philosophical about the defection of Amir Khan to America's Golden Boy. Far more so than he was when Naseem Hamed, Ricky Hatton and Joe Calzaghe similarly walked out on him after he had levered them to fame and fortune. Warren admits to feeling "gutted and badly let down" by a fighter whose career he skilfully forged – and revived – while wishing him well. But one suspects he was almost resigned to his exit.
He says he had "a gentlemen's agreement" with Khan's people to continue being involved with his promotions, but the trouble with gentlemen's agreements is they are not worth the paper they are not written on. Warren says: "I should have learned my lesson by now. Unfortunately there is no loyalty in sport any more."
Burnley supporters will echo his sentiments following the departure of manager Owen Coyle to Bolton. And how many athletes and swimmers have cut themselves off from the coaches who discovered and nurtured them once they began reaching for the stars?
The former promoter Mickey Duff first coined the phrase "if you want loyalty, buy a dog" and this may be why Warren has two at his Hertfordshire home. Neither are boxers.
As he shrugged off Khan's exit last week he got on with what he does best – promoting his next show. This is at Wembley on 13 February when Danny Williams is due to defend his British heavyweight title against Warren protégé Derek Chisora. But the enigmatic Williams, one-time slayer of Mike Tyson, failed to show up for a press conference, saying he wasn't sure whether he fancied the fight.
Another fight apparently not fancied – by Khan's US guru Freddie Roach – is that between the WBA light-welterweight champion and mandatory challenger Marcos Maidana, an Argentinian banger of Breidis Prescott proportions. The WBA say a "tentative agreement" has been reached but the word is Maidana will be offered "step aside" money by Golden Boy so Khan can fight the less threatening Paulie Malignaggi or Juan Manuel Marquez as a prelude to a blockbuster in Manchester with Ricky Hatton, which Khan's split makes possible.
I have known Khan well since watching him win the Olympic silver medal in Athens. He is a genuinely nice lad which is why Warren feels it disappointing that he hasn't even been in touch, even if it was to say: "Thanks for all you've done Frank."
I wish him good fortune in chasing the American dream which he first revealed in these pages last year. Such is the paucity of talent in America, that, as Golden Boy's Oscar De La Hoya admits, with his dazzling hand-speed and charisma, Khan could well become the new face of boxing in the United States.
Just as long as he remembers that one more punch on the chin could bring a rude awakening. And in America, where they have all the time in the world for winners, there is no loyalty to losers.
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