After all the jungle shenanigans and personal problems, is Amir ‘King’ Khan still one of Britain’s best?
Fighting almost two years after being brutally knocked out by Canelo Alvarez, Amir Khan makes his long awaited return to the ring on April 21st at Liverpool’s Echo Arena against Canadian fighter Phil LoGreco.
After a long period of inactivity, Khan has faced personal problems outside of the ring, had a high profile stint inside ITV’s “I’m a Celebrity” and has consistently spoken about making a return whether it be against Kell Brook or Manny Pacquiao with nothing ever actually coming to fruition.
However, after leaving the jungle late last year Khan and promoter Eddie Hearn joined forces as a surprise to many after various trash talking between the two over the last few years. A 3 fight deal was agreed with the idea of Khan versus Brook finally happening down the line.
Meanwhile, Phil Lo Greco was announced as Khan’s opponent and after a particularly fiery press conference that concluded with Khan throwing a glass of water over Lo Greco after several personal insults thrown from the Toronto based boxer.
Unknown to many, Phil Lo Greco has campaigned at around the 150lbs mark for his 12 years as a professional, coming up short 3 times in his career when coming up against world level fighters such as Shawn Porter and Errol Spence. Soon to turn 34, it’s arguable that this could be Lo Greco’s last fight against a major name in the division if he’s to come up short against Khan.
As Khan’s inactivity has been discussed since the fight was announced, so should Lo Greco’s. Having last fought in his only bout of 2017 last June, Lo Greco was victorious in an 8 round contest against an opponent who had a record of 24-11. Lo Greco also only fought once in 2016 in a fight that he come out as the loser.
Khan has also fought somebody of note more recently than Lo Greco. As mentioned earlier, Khan boxed Canelo Alvarez almost two years ago for the WBC World Middleweight Title whereas Lo Greco’s last fight against a big name was almost three years ago against Errol Spence which was over inside three rounds.
After some fans evaluated the above, many expressed disappointment regarding the quality of Khan’s opponent when you consider some that he has faced in previous fights.
However, others may argue that when you consider both the length of Khan’s inactivity as well as how his last fight ended, it’s hard to blame him for going up against a fighter of Lo Greco’s quality.
A final issue that some may not know about is the change in Khan’s trainer. For his last few fights, Khan has teamed up with well-respected and experienced trainer Virgil Hunter. Unfortunately, after suffering a couple of health problems, Hunter has has to step aside for the time being, allowing another experienced trainer in Joe Goosen. Having trained the likes of the late Diego Corrales, Shane Mosley & Joel Casamayor in the past, Goosen is well respected in the sport to many fans and is said to have developed a ‘strong bond’ with Khan during their time together.
In regards to the fight itself, I can’t see past a clear Amir Khan win. Lo Greco seems to talk a good game but has struggled to back it up throughout his career whereas although Khan has taken some losses as well, has beaten some high quality opponents throughout his career as well including the likes of Zab Judah and Marcos Maidana.
However, although Khan may not need to be at his best to beat Lo Greco, after two years out of the ring many will be interested to see how Khan’s speed as well as his attributes are in full force.
Assuming that Khan does win, it will be interesting to see in what fashion. Khan hasn’t actually won via KO since mid-2011 when he defeated Zab Judah who at the time had only been stopped once before. Since that fight Khan has recorded 5 wins none of them coming via a knockout so stopping Lo Greco who has also only been stopped once before may be a big ask due to not only Khan’s lack of power in recent years but his inactivity as well.
Therefore, I’m going to pick Khan to win this fight via a clear point’s decision. In recent years, Khan hasn’t had the power that he’s had in the early parts of his career and although he’s not going up against a top challenger in Lo Greco, he isn’t going up against a journeyman who’s been knocked out a number of times.
However, depending on the game plan that both Lo Greco and Khan have as well as the shape that both fighters arrive in after their periods of inactivity, for a fight that’s scheduled to go for 12 rounds, it will be very interesting to see if either fighter decides to push for the stoppage rather than go the distance.
Assuming Khan wins, where does he go next?
With a handful of fights left in him, Khan is unlikely to want another fight against a fighter that’s not going to involve him getting a big pay check and credit.
Although now that Khan has signed with Matchroom, the Brook fight may look more likely than ever according to some. Whether that fight can happen later this year remains to be seen as the two fighters are most likely going to have to agree to catch-weight which may take some time to negotiate.
If Khan looks to be back to his best on Saturday night against Lo Greco, he may call out the best names in the division, especially the title holders at the moment.
Personally, I’d love to see Khan try and avenge his loss against Danny Garcia in his next fight. In a fight that he was doing well in before being stopped, I’d give Khan a decent chance this time round and a fight against a top Welterweight would stand him in good stead for another world title shot rather than fighting a boxer of the standard of Phil ‘The Italian Sensation’ LoGreco.