This weekend Amir Khan makes the fourth defence of his WBA light-welterweight title against the relatively unknown European champion Paul McCloskey. There has been little interest so far, specifically due to the poor choice of opponent for Khan and the lack of a decent undercard.
Originally the fight was due to be screened on Sky Sports Box Office, the major pay-per-view sports channel in the UK. However, due to the shockingly low numbers of pre-booked sales (rumoured to be around 50) Sky got cold feet and pulled the fight.
Sky Sports then offered to show the fight on their main network, which would have resulted in Khan receiving a reduced purse but gain a big upturn in viewers. Not good enough for Khan and GBP, the GBP team dumped Sky Sports and turned to fringe cable company Primetime to sell the fight on pay-per-view.
Khan had been offered a rematch with Breidis Prescott, the Columbian banger who sensationally knocked him out in 2008. Even with a weak undercard, it is probable that the fans would have paid to see this on its own.
In the carnage that has followed, Richard Schaefer of GBP has stated that Amir Khan is a pay-per-view fighter. In my opinion, a fighter becomes a pay-per-view fighter when the paying customer shows that they are in pre-booked sales. The meagre 50 pre-booked sales for his fight with Sky should show Khan he's not as big as everyone in his team is telling him he is.
Khan and GBP are not thinking long term. Khan is relying on HBO to expose himself to a more receptive audience in the US who are probably not ready to pay to see him on his own card. He needs to build up his own following in the UK very much the way Ricky Hatton and Joe Calzaghe did successfully.
Boxing is struggling in the recession, like all businesses. However, last weekend's Maidana/Morales card was value for money, showcasing an excellent main fight with a good undercard.
Khan and GBP have made a mistake in telling the consumer what they want. Unfortunately for Khan, it’s the consumer who will tell him what they want and how much they are willing to pay for it.
Fight Prediction: Khan Win by TKO in the early rounds.
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