FROM 2005 (his debut year) until 2009, Amir Khan averaged over four fights per annum. Since then, that number has fallen to under two, a combination of changing trainers, waiting for superfights that never materialised and the annual observance of Ramadan rendering Bolton’s former unified super-lightweight king comparatively inactive. The last time Amir competed more than twice in a year was 2011 and with long-time target Floyd Mayweather retired and Manny Pacquiao seemingly destined for a farewell rubber match with Tim Bradley this spring, it has never been more important for Khan to fight more often. Here are a few reasons why:
1. Staying sharp
KHAN has spent long periods ensconced in trainer Virgil Hunter’s California gym since the pair hooked up in 2012, the Oakland guru understandably keen to eradicate Amir’s bad habits and forge him in his own style. But most fighters will affirm that fighting – and at a high level – is the best form of maintaining speed, timing and reactions, not to mention learning. All that time on the pads cannot truly compare to pitting skills and wits against a live opponent.
2. He’s not getting any younger
THE Brit may well be fresher than most 29-year-olds but he is in danger of seeing his physical prime slowly ebb away while his career withers on the vine. Top welterweights Keith Thurman, Shawn Porter and Errol Spence Jnr are all younger and more active, while big domestic rival Kell Brook is only slightly older. Khan could easily lose what should be his best years if the recent pattern endures.
3. Momentum matters
IN what is a highly competitive 147lb division, the buzz tends to gravitate towards whomever makes the most noise on any given day. That was Porter when he beat Adrien Broner, he and Thurman when a fight between them moved closer and Spence Jnr every time he fights. Khan is a big name with respectable drawing power on both sides of the Atlantic but in the last year he has been talked about more for things that are not happening – mooted fights with Brook, Mayweather and Pacquiao – and his (extensive and undeniably impressive) charity work than any in-ring achievements. His May win over Chris Algieri was relatively low-key and an unexpected struggle; worse still, he did not fight again last year to generate more positive buzz. The men rumoured for the big, lucrative assignments tend to be those appearing – and excelling – on a regular basis. Gennady Golovkin, faced with a lack of marquee opponents, instead fought regularly against a slightly lower level of opposition and everyone was talking about “GGG” in 2015.
4. He can make good money
A BIT of a no-brainer perhaps but while the megabucks generated by a Mayweather showdown may be unmatchable, fighting three times in 2016 against, say, Brook, Thurman and Porter, would, combined, earn Khan a huge amount for a year’s work. Khan, even though he is more cautious under Hunter, remains a mostly entertaining fighter fans will pay to see against the right foe. Yes, he is already wealthy but why not secure his long-term future while he can?