Khan, Alexander meet in key welterweight fight
LAS VEGAS -- Amir Khan was counting on Floyd Mayweather Jr. adding him to his dance card about this time last year when he turned down a chance to fight Devon Alexander for a piece of the welterweight title.
He's not making the mistake of waiting on Mayweather again.
Khan and Alexander meet Saturday night in a fight that could get the winner a shot against Mayweather in May - assuming the pay-per-view king keeps ignoring calls to fight Manny Pacquiao in what would be the biggest fight of them all. Or, the way promoter Bob Arum and Oscar De La Hoya have been hanging around together, it could get one of them a fight against Pacquiao instead.
Regardless, the stakes are high on a night that could reveal a lot about how the 147-pound division will look in the new year.
''I really belong on the big stage, belong in the lights of Mayweather, Pacquiao, facing those guys,'' Khan said. ''So, it's all about just being smart and picking the right fight at the right time and not making mistakes.''
The 28-year-old Khan's mistake last year wasn't made in the ring, but waiting to get in the ring. He thought he was Mayweather's choice for a fight that went to Marcos Maidana instead. Though he ended up fighting at the MGM Grand arena on Mayweather's card in May, it was against Luis Collazo.
If he considers it a mistake, he's not saying. But the popular British fighter insists that it's his time to shine on boxing's biggest stages.
''I think every fighter in the welterweight division wants that big fight against Mayweather to see how they'd do against the best fighter,'' said Khan about the 37-year-old boxer. ''Us young fighters, and us hungry fighters, we want to fight the best and you want to beat the best and you want to see how you do against the best. You never want to leave boxing one day thinking, well, what would have happened if I fought someone like Floyd?''
The 27-year-old Alexander wouldn't mind a megafight himself, and he brings credentials of his own into a bout that the former welterweight champion needs to win - and win impressively - to get him in the mix.
''A fighter would be lying if they say; I'm not thinking about that; I'm thinking about the opponent ahead. But, you know they'll be lying,'' Alexander said. ''So, it's in the back of my head, but my sole focus is Amir Khan. Everybody knows what can be after the fight, but I'm focused on Amir Khan and what he brings to the table. After this, then we'll talk.''
While Khan and Alexander fight for position in the Mayweather-Pacquiao lottery, big punching Keith Thurman hopes to state his own case for a big fight on the undercard. Thurman, who has 21 knockouts in 23 wins as a pro, fights fellow undefeated welterweight Leonard Bundu of Italy in a bout that will have ramifications for the division in 2015.
It's the first fight outside of Europe for the slow developing Bundu, who fought for Italy in the 2000 Olympics. Bundu is 31-0 but has only 11 knockouts and his list of credible opponents is a small one.
While the card promoted by De La Hoya's Golden Boy at the MGM will be shown on Showtime, HBO will counter with another card featuring a top welterweight from the Cosmopolitan resort just down the Strip. Timothy Bradley, coming off the only loss in his career in April against Pacquiao, will meet Argentina's Diego Gabriel Chaves in a 12-round bout he hopes will keep fans talking about him for the top fights.