Floyd Mayweather vs. Amir Khan: Head-to-Toe Breakdown for Potential Fight
Saving us months of speculation and debate, rumor has it that Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Amir Khan will take place on May 3, 2014 in Las Vegas. Jeff Powell of the Daily Mail is reporting that the bout has been finalized and will be announced in the next few days.
However, Khan's camp was quick to dismiss the report. They released the following statement, via ESPN.co.uk:
Team Khan would like to dispel recent reports that Amir Khan has pulled out of a potential match-up against Devon Alexander on December 7, taking up a fight against Floyd Mayweather in May of next year instead. Contrary to this story, Amir Khan is currently in training camp in San Francisco with the aim of fighting again in December against Alexander once an agreement can be reached.
Despite the conflicting reports, it's still worth breaking down how the fighters would match up with each other should the bout actually end up taking place.
Mayweather (45-0, 26 KO) easily dispensed of Saul "Canelo" Alvarez on Sept. 14 to retain his super welterweight championship. It was quite possibly the most impressive performance of his career, and it was made all the more so given the physical advantages his opponent possessed. Canelo was bigger and stronger, but you'd be hard-pressed to say he won a single round.
Khan (28-3, 19 KO) is a former lightweight and junior welterweight champion. He is one of the few fighters who might be able to match speed with Mayweather, but he's been undone in the past by his suspect chin. This is clearly the biggest fight of his career and will be a potential star-making moment for the Brit.
While May 3 is a long way off and we have yet to hear confirmation, we'll get you set up right with this complete head-to-toe breakdown of the fighters and their potential bout.
When it comes to pure boxing ability, you'll find nobody better than Mayweather. The pound-for-pound king relies on superior speed, defense and ring intelligence to put himself in position to land lightning-fast counters and easily avoid any incoming from his opponents. He mostly throws one or two punches at a time, but it's virtually impossible to land clean on him in return.
Khan has excellent hand speed and has recently caused some controversy by not only comparing his hand speed to Mayweather's, but outright stating he's the faster fighter. Many will quickly dismiss his statement as blasphemous, but it might not be far from the truth. His combinations are lightning-quick, and he's most effective when he darts in and out.
Mayweather is clearly the superior boxer. It's not even close, and that's not even a knock on Khan. There isn't a fighter in the sport today whom you'd say—with a straight face—would get the edge in boxing ability over Mayweather.
However, there is one slight caveat.
Mayweather has tremendous hand speed and overall the fastest hands in boxing, but he's at his best when throwing counters and his lead right hand. Khan's biggest advantage comes in his combination punching, where he might just be the quickest fighter in the sport.
One of the biggest knocks—and there aren't many—on Mayweather is he doesn't have a ton of punching power. His knockout numbers aren't terrible—26 out of 45 wins—but he suffers from frequent hand injures and hasn't stopped a foe since his controversial knockout of Victor Ortiz in 2011.
A lack of one-punch stopping power doesn't necessarily mean a guy can't crack, and Floyd can certainly do that. His punches are so quick, and often delivered from angles that make them difficult to see, that he has a sort of underrated, sneaky type of power.
Khan has decent pop in his punches, but he also isn't known as a one-punch knockout puncher. He has scored 19 stoppages in his 28 victories and has stopped the usually durable Zab Judah and Paulie Malignaggi. But Khan has only fought once north of 140 pounds, and he will—in all likelihood—be making his first appearance against a full-fledged welterweight.
The move to 147 pounds is something he's contemplated for some time, and he expects to be more powerful at the new weight.
This one is a little more difficult to flesh out. Neither guy has overwhelming power, their knockout percentages are comparable and both prefer to box their opponents and not blast through them. Given this fight would likely take place at welterweight—where Khan has never faced a true 147-pounder and Mayweather is at home—we'll give the advantage to Floyd.
But it's not overwhelming by any means.
Amongst active fighters, there is no better master of the defensive arts than Mayweather. In fact, you would be hard-pressed to not include him in any debates about the best defensive fighter of all time.
He just does everything well. Mayweather controls the distance of the fight—staying outside when he wants and darting in when he feels the need—creates difficult angles, makes it almost impossible for his opponent to score and counters with tremendous speed. When his opponent does close distance, Mayweather is great at evading, deflecting and slipping punches.
Having a suspect chin is never a good thing for a professional fighter. But it's the type of problem that can only be compounded by a suspect defense. Khan has such great speed and—some would say delusional—faith in his ability, that he often neglects the defensive aspects of the game. He trades when he shouldn't, and that leads to him getting caught with punches he can't afford.
In the wake of his defeat last Summer against Danny Garcia, Khan split with longtime trainer Freddie Roach, and he now practices under the tutelage of Virgil Hunter. The split was largely due to Khan's desire to have a more defensive-oriented second in his corner.
Mayweather by a mile. This is easily the single biggest advantage possessed by either fighter heading should the fight take place.
The book on Mayweather has been written, and it's seldom ever revised. Mayweather is your prototypical boxer. He controls the distance of the fight, stays defensively aware for every second of every round, knows where he is at all times and launches quick counters when his opponent least expects them.
Something tells me—the desire to make a statement and his opponent's suspect chin—that he would aim to be a tad more aggressive this time out, and when he says he's going for a knockout, he'll actually mean it.
Khan might just have been on to something when he spoke out in the aftermath of Mayweather's dominant decision over Alvarez. For years, the customary wisdom said you'd need to outpower Floyd in order to beat him, but Khan says it's about speed and being able to neutralize Mayweather's biggest asset. He'll look to utilize his speed in order to initiate and win exchanges before ducking out of harms way.
He knows he can't linger too long because his foe is every bit as fast—if not faster—than he is, and he'll hope to do the impossible—outbox Floyd Mayweather.
You have to give Mayweather the benefit of the doubt. There seems to be some logic to what Khan is saying—in terms of meeting speed with speed and not hoping for one big punch—but it's hard to imagine someone holding it together and outboxing Floyd Mayweather. That's especially true with a fighter like Khan, who isn't the mentally toughest fighter out there.
It's going to be a lot harder to convince the public that Mayweather's zero is in peril this time around. Large segments of the public, and media, bought into the hype surrounding Alvarez's potential chance to unseat the sport's top attraction. He was bigger, stronger and more physical than any foe of Mayweather's career, and you can make the case he lost every single round.
Khan was viewed as a potential superstar not too long ago. He's still extremely talented, and a loss here wouldn't necessarily derail his ability to make a significant impact in the sport. But he's nowhere near the level of Mayweather, and he'll lose this fight. It won't even be close.
Khan will attempt to utilize his hand speed and combinations to score against Mayweather in the early rounds, but like so many before him, he'll find it much harder than it looks from outside the ring. The Brit's defensive liabilities will leave him wide open for Mayweather to evade his shots and launch crisp counters that will check his chin.
Mayweather will score a knockdown in the middle rounds—most likely from a sharp counterpunch—and that will allow him to be more aggressive. Khan will find himself in serious trouble by the eighth round, and while he'll come out for the ninth, it'll end there. Either the referee—or more likely Virgil Hunter—will be forced to call a halt with Khan along the ropes swallowing punches.
Mayweather TKO 9 Khan