Amir Khan, still suffering the effects of a cold shoulder, will be keeping a watchful eye on the potentially fiery proceedings at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles tomorrow night when former nemesis Danny Garcia meets Robert Guerrero for the vacant WBC welterweight title.
Snubbed by Floyd Mayweather Jnr and now Manny Pacquiao, 29-year-old Khan can take comfort from being nominated as mandatory challenger to the winner, which seems most likely to be Garcia, giving Amir the opportunity of a revenge mission he says he has sought for some time.
The situation makes for even more compelling viewing for fans watching on BoxNation, who are screening the fight live (from 1am Sunday) as the first of several international biggies to be shown on the Channel of Champions in the next few weeks.
It also suggests that, as Khan seems to want to go down this WBC world title route, a domestic showdown with Kell Brook is still some way off.
The WBC want the fight between Khan and either of the two Gs to take place by June and Khan is said to be looking for a rust-shedding warm-up contest – he hasn’t been in the ring for real since last May – sometime in March.
Brook is also committed to an IBF title defence against Canada’s Kevin Bizier in Sheffield on March 23.
Obviously, an eventual Khan v Brook face-off would be even bigger if both held world titles, though the prospect of either being beaten beforehand would certainly devalue it.
Khan prefers to face Garcia because that TKO defeat by the Philadelphian in 2012 still rankles.
He was ahead until nabbed by a sharp counter shot in the third, went down and never fully recovered. He was stopped after two more knock-downs in the fourth, a defeat almost as devastating as that against Breidis Prescott back in 2008.
But the one thing about Khan is that he always seems to have the capacity to come back as he did three fights after being poleaxed by Prescott to win the world title.
Garcia remains unbeaten at 31-0 and should carry too much firepower for Guerrero (33-3-1), an old school warrior who has seen better days and was given a master-class in disciplined defensive boxing by Mayweather three years ago.
The fight is for the WBC belt relinquished by Mayweather last year and it certainly won’t lack passion as both have strong Latino bloodlines.
Garcia’s heritage is Puerto Rican while Guerrero is a Mexican-American, who like his opponent, is trained by a very vociferous father.
Garcia holds notable wins over Erik Morales, Zab Judah, Lamont Peterson and Lucas Matthysse as well as Khan, while it seems like a Last Chance Saloon job for the 32-year-old Guerrero, who was convincingly outgunned beat by Keith Thurman in March 2015.
Both men are coming off the back of victories; Garcia stopped Paulie Malignaggi in August and in June Guerrero, aka The Ghost, somewhat luckily outpointed Aaron Martinez, who recently beat Khan victim Devon Alexander and meets undefeated Sammy Vasquez on the undercard.
Actually this is not BoxNation’s first live screening of 2016. This comes at London’s York Hall tonight when Ryan Walsh makes the first defence of his British featherweight title against Darren Traynor.
I predict and fruitful year for Walsh, one of Norfolk’s band of boxing brothers, who picked up the vacant title with a close split decision victory over Samir Mouneimne last September.
One ambition he fosters is to make history with brother Liam by becoming the first twins to hold British and Commonwealth belts at the same time.
Lewis Pettitt, Ahmet Patterson, Ediz Hussein, Sam McNess, Billy Long, D.P. Carr and Ben Smith will all feature on a talent-packed undercard, so tune in for a great night’s boxing.
Following this weekend BoxNation will also be showing other classic encounters: There’s the jack-hammer punching Sergey ‘Krusher’ Kovalev against home-town stylist Jean Pascal for the IBF, WBA and WBO light-heavyweight titles in Montreal on Saturday January 30; Garry Corcoran v Danny Butler for the vacant WBO Inter-Continental super-welterweight title from Dublin on February 6 and Terence Crawford, who some reckon has even better credentials than Triple G as the world’s best pound-for-pounder, defending his WBO super-lightweight title against Hank Lundy at Madison Square Garden on February 27.
Plus what in my view is potentially the tastiest match-up of the year, Terry v Derry (Flanagan v Mathews in Tale of Two Cities for The Turbo’s WBO lightweight title at the Liverpool. Echo Arena on February 13.
And not forgetting BoxNation’s new regular coverage of pro-style World Series Boxing tournament, which begins this Saturday at 7pm with highlights of the British Lionhearts opening fixture against the USA Knockouts in Miami.
Quite a fistic feast to warm the cockles in this chilly New Year.
Another bundle for Haye
According to TV comedy channel Dave, viewing figures for their live boxing debut which saw David Haye’s summary dismissal of the hapless Mark de Mori last weekend, peaked at three million, with a 1.3 million average. Allied to the alleged capacity crowd at the arena this demonstrates that the Hayemaker’s magnetism hasn’t diminished.
It seems the WBA are equally star-struck, immediately elevating him to number nine in their ratings, replacing de Mori who some might argue had no right to be there in the first place.
Haye is now booked to return to the O2 for his second comeback fight in May. Should be interesting to see whether he sticks with his new best friend Dave or goes down a more orthodox TV route.
And if he selects an opponent capable of more than the token resistance offered by the awful Aussie.