Bunce on Boxing: Amir Khan is right to be annoyed – he has been messed around by Floyd Mayweather and needs a big fight


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The Independent Online

It was inevitable that the fallout from Amir Khan’s rejection by Floyd Mayweather would turn personal and entertaining once the insults started flying. Last week Mayweather decided to face a flat-nosed nice guy called Marcos Maidana, from Argentina, on 3 May and neglected Khan, who claimed that he had agreed a fight in November and had been in a training camp in Oakland, California, since December. It is clear that Khan is telling the truth.

Mayweather had even run an online poll which had overwhelmingly selected Khan as his next opponent, leaving Maidana, who lost to Khan in 2010, way back in second place. Mayweather ignored this and picked Maidana; several other polls had the Argentine as favourite for a ticket in the Mayweather sweepstake.

Khan then revealed in a statement late last week that he had “signed my part of the agreement to fight Floyd in early December”. Mayweather dismissed Khan’s comments and insisted that Maidana had been selected because of his stunning win in December over a quality but flawed fighter called Adrien Broner.

Mayweather then turned once again to Twitter to carry out his business and told Khan yesterday: “If you and @adrienbroner end up fighting each other on my show and you win (which you won’t)... I’ll fight you.” Khan had heard it all before, called it the latest insult and turned to Twitter himself to give his verdict: “FM is full of shit. Just like ‘my next opponent’ poll.” It is perhaps not a wise thing to question Mayweather, who is sport’s biggest earner and boxing’s main event.

Khan against Broner, who lost for the first time when Maidana beat him, would be a terrific fight, but the British boxer has his own deal with Showtime in America and appearing on Mayweather’s undercard would cause a problem. However, there still remains the possibility that Khan would receive more for fighting Broner on Mayweather’s show than he would for facing another contender as part of his deal. He is in desperate need of some exposure and a good win, which is a polite way of saying that Khan’s bargaining power is in decline.

In November, he withdrew from a scheduled world title fight against Devon Alexander, which was due to take place on 7 December, because of the planned payday with Mayweather. It was a risky strategy at the time and now looks like a catastrophe because Alexander was easily beaten by a low-key fighter called Shawn Porter. Maidana, by the way, met Alexander in 2012 and never touched him, but that’s another story.

Khan claims he was “strongly advised to not take” the Alexander fight, which means that had he fought and lost then the planned 3 May fight with Mayweather would have been off for good. The simple translation is that Khan was putting in jeopardy a potential $10million (£6m) purse with Mayweather for earning less than $1m in a difficult fight with Alexander. He pulled out of the Alexander fight, signed a deal for Mayweather and then waited nearly three months before being officially rejected. No wonder that Khan feels a little abused by boxing’s richest attraction. “I have not been treated fairly,” he said.

Khan has now broken camp in Oakland and returned to Bolton for a few weeks, which seems to end any hope of him being part of the Mayweather bill in May. The temporary break from Virgil Hunter, the man in charge of preparing Khan in the gym, so close to a potential fight, will certainly cause some friction between the pair. Hunter likes his boxers to stay in the gym even when they are waiting for a date. Khan, by the way, has not fought since last April.

There is also, according to some people, an offer on the table from promoter Eddie Hearn of $5m (£3m) for Khan to fight Sheffield’s Kell Brook. However, Khan’s people have laughed at the rumours and countered that if they wanted Brook they would make an offer. Brook will get his chance to win Porter’s world title this summer, Khan is still waiting for a  fight and Mayweather is not bothered because he will get in excess of $50m (£30m) for beating Maidana. It’s a simple business, boxing.