Khan looks set to face Bradley

BY foxsports • April 16, 2011

“We have signed a multi-year deal with HBO and Amir Khan,” announced Golden Boy Promotions head Oscar De La Hoya, as the press conference he was presiding over descended into chaos.

Not letting the recriminations of the controversial ending to his win over Paul McCloskey moments earlier deflect them, Khan, his promoter and his trainer Freddie Roach firmly set their sights on what lies ahead for the WBA light welterweight champion.

“The fight that HBO wants and we want is Timothy Bradley to unify the titles,” De La Hoya firmly stated, as he stressed that his plan was to organize the long-awaited bout to determine who truly rules boxing’s deepest division.

It’s been no secret HBO has made the 140-pound division its No. 1 priority, investing heavily in not only Amir Khan, but also the recent Timothy Bradley vs. Devon Alexander unification fight. Khan, for one, is optimistic the fight will be made.

“Over the next couple of days we should have it sorted out,” Khan said.

It’s a fight that excites the young Brit, who with his victory in Manchester improved to 25-1.

“When I go back to Los Angles and I know that it’s Bradley next, that will push and really motivate me,” Khan said.

Whether Khan is ready for the challenge posed by the WBO/WBC champion is another question. Against McCloskey, he looked much like he did in his previous fight against Marcos Maidana, with Khan once again looking like a gifted but raw prospect. While clearly too much for the Irishman, he was far too eager and often guilty of poor shot selection. Seemingly looking for a quick finish, he frequently allowed himself to be caught rushing in and increasingly became frustrated by an opponent who, in the words of Roach, “was fighting very conservatively.”

And while the fight served as yet another demonstration of Khan’s excellent handspeed, with his combinations regularly opening up McCloskey, only once in the fifth round was Khan able to put the challenger under sustained pressure. He will have to tighten up his game and show greater patience if he’s to emerge victorious against the tough, awkward Bradley.

One man who doubts whether Khan has the potential to go all the way is Paul McCloskey, who after the fight claimed Khan is “all hype.” While recognizing Khan is a good boxer, McCloskey believes when it comes to the pound-for-pound stakes, Khan “will come up short,” particularly if he makes a move up to welterweight.

McCloskey’s promoter Barry Hearn also cast doubt on how British fight fans will view Khan’s latest victory.

“He’s not going to be popular in this country,” Hearn said as he rallied against Khan’s refusal to express disappointment or doubt about the nature of his victory. “People in this country won’t like that behavior.”

Hearn was also dismissive of De La Hoya’s criticism of Sky Sports for canceling their planned broadcast of the fight and De La Hoya’s promise to develop closer links with rival network Primetime.

“Harvard Business School may have eluded him,” Hearn said. “If Sky was listening to that then that could have cost Oscar a lot of money.”

There may well be validity in Hearn’s assessment, but the truth is that just as he was able to dismiss the calls for him to avenge his defeat at the hands of Brendis Prescott, he will be able to avoid ever stepping in the ring against McCloskey again. Khan simply isn’t interested in settling scores, instead wanting to overcome fresh challenges.

In a revealing insight into his mindset, Khan said, “There are levels in boxing and I think Bradley is the same level as me, the world-class level.”

The implication was clear — after deigning to accept lesser competition to fight at home, it was now time for Khan to renew his bid to be recognized as the best in the world. And his trainer Roach explained what was on the line for both Khan and Bradley.

"Whoever wins and unifies the division will probably move up to 147 pounds and fight one of the big boys, like Manny Pacquiao, for big money,” Roach said.

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