By Gabriel Montoya: At age 27, life could not be more in transition for Amir “King” Khan, 28-3 (19). At the end of May, his new wife, Faryal will give birth to their first child, a daughter. Gone now are the days when he roamed around the world with his Khan-tourage through London, L.A. and Vegas and party like youth would last forever. No game reminds you that ever impending old age renders everyone’s game over at some point. Khan is in a delicate place, still feeling mere moments removed from what he thought would be his headliner weekend, now “Floyd Mayweather vs. Marcos Maidana: The Moment,” live on Showtime Pay-Per-View from the MGM Grand. That fight was to be the culmination of what Khan has always wanted for himself. It was to be his PPV coronation.
Khan tried for months, eschewing a fight with Devon Alexander last April for the IBF welterweight belt Shawn Porter now holds. He had trained in London, weight training with conditioning coach Tony Brady, an assistant of head trainer Virgil Hunter, preparing his body to be a strong, full-fledged 147-pounder. In Hayward, CA, with Hunter, Khan continue the work the two began in late 2012 when Khan fired then trainer Freddie Roach. A stoppage win over Carlos Molina and a 12-round decision over Julio Diaz later, Khan is now a fighter shaking off a year’s rust in a new division against a wily veteran in Luis Collazo.
Back in the Bay Area, Khan had also been working with Victor Conte’s SNAC System team that includes veteran track coach Remi Korchemny. Conte pulled his involvement with Khan days prior this fight being announced. Khan had worked a mini-camp with Conte’s team earlier in the year as he prepared for what he thought was a spring fight with Mayweather (www.youtube.com/watch?v=Utskz8x440I). How Khan responds to losing relationship he was very excited about and not getting Mayweather, the fighter he trained for since last year, should be interesting, to say the least.
Last April, Khan passed on fighting an athletic, southpaw titlist named Devon Alexander. Had Khan taken the fight, the road to Mayweather would been paved with hard work previously done by Tim Bradley. Alexander was not unbeatable. Then Lucas Matthysse made it look doable. But Khan wanted none of that. In fact, he told this reporter in not so many words he had been told to write off the Alexander fight favor of waiting for bigger fights – one possibly against Mayweather. While it seems like the shrewd and cunning warrior lasts the longest and rises highest in the ranks, a certain measure of derring-do is also necessary, a certain amount of risk. Khan passed on that opportunity. But perhaps in Collazo, he has potential Karmic redo.
Generally, when one tries to pick a winner in boxing, he should follow the money. Amir Khan appears to be the money man. However, it should be noted, particularly in light of today’s events, that Amir Khan and Luis Collazo have the same manager/adviser in Al Haymon. Khan is likely the bigger draw, both in terms of cable ratings and the live gate. With Main Event’s Kathy Duva filing suit against Golden Boy Promotions, Al Haymon, Yvon Michel, Showtime and others not to mention the ongoing feud between Oscar De la Hoya and Richard Schaefer, it’s hard to see what the future holds. Politics aside, Khan seems to be more the guy all involved would like to market next versus Mayweather.
In the immediate future is indeed Collazo, a 33-year-old cagey veteran with serviceable power, speed, defense and offense. Collazo is a classic spoiler. Against Ricky Hatton back in 2006, Collazo was put down in the first but rallied to hurt Hatton late en route to losing a close 12-round decision. In January of 2009, Collazo shined brightly against Andre Berto, showing he did belong at the top level of the welterweight division. Many fans felt that Collazo won and an immediate rematch was necessary. It never happened and Collazo remained that tough fighter waiting to get his shot. A 2011 decision loss to Freddy Hernandez saw Collazo looking somewhat listless, passionless. However, he’s fought four times since, all wins, with the most significant being the two-round destruction of Victor Ortiz in January.
Despite being dropped by Hatton, Collazo’s chin is known for being quite good. His defense, with his lead hand down marries perfectly with his offense out of the southpaw stance. His upper body bobbing, looking to set up the sneaky left hand uppercut from the rear and the right hook that put Ortiz down out of nowhere, Collazo is every bit as dangerous as Devon Alexander. In some ways, particularly regarding mental toughness, he is tough. Again, in light of Wednesday’s Main Events legal action, one has to wonder if Khan would’ve signed to fight Collazo, pre-Haymon.
In Khan, Collazo is facing a fighter in flux. Khan is expecting a baby at the end of the month and knows above all that with another knockout loss, fans will be talking retirement, not Mayweather. There is pressure to impress; there is the letdown of not getting the fight of his life and then, there is the tough southpaw style that he did not want to face in a somewhat different form named Luis Collazo. This is what boxing was all about. Fate, destiny, the ultimate test to see if those things are predestined or if they can be forged through sheer will, hope and the ability to turn dreams into reality.
Collazo is near the Last Chance Saloon. A win for him gets him a step closer to being among the elite and most respected fighters in the world. He can go from being a tough out to potentially a main event on a major pay-per-view show.
A loss for Khan on Saturday won’t take him to the Last Chance Saloon but someone will certainly be handing him directions. This is an unforgiving business but one filled with chances for production and opportunities to take oneself to another level. For Khan and Collazo, this is that very moment.
Khan has looked in very good shape for some time. Having had a chance to watch him work up close a couple times (www.youtube.com/watch?v=bPz0oj7Niv8), it appears he has had time to fully acclimate to 147, has mixed his physical and mental preparation and will, no doubt, showcase his superior speed in the fight. Khan’s best punches are his right hand and his left jab. If he can establish both and maintain economical movement, side to side, Khan can keep Collazo’s offensive output low.
Collazo is not the boxer in this match-up though his skill-set says otherwise. He is going to have to box aggressively or he will be turning all night chasing Khan and finding no purchase. Body work and a hard jab are musts for Collazo to negate Khan’s considerable speed. Above all, Collazo must be willing to trade with Khan and get to his beard.
The more I analyze the fight, the better chance I give Khan. Still, I am sticking with my gut and going Collazo by decision or possibly late stoppage. There’s no question that he can get rough-and-tumble but Khan has to prove he can win that kind of fight.
Here is the latest episode of “The Next Round” with Steve Kim and me breaking down “The Moment.”
Don’t miss “Leave it in the Ring” with David Duenez and Gabriel Montoya, Thursday at 11 a.m., PT:
Speaking of court cases, Dan Goossen is now 3-0 versus Andre Ward. According to a press release sent out yesterday:
GOOSSEN WINS WARD CASE (AGAIN)
The California State Athletic Commission handed down the decision today in Andre Ward’s latest attempt to invalidate his promotional contract with Dan Goossen and Goossen Tutor Promotions. The decision by the arbitrator Andy Foster, the Commission’s Executive Director, was a clear victory for Goossen. Ward’s contract was once again ruled “valid” and extended to November 8, 2016.
In June 2013, in a prior arbitration initiated by Ward, the arbitrator also ruled Goossen’s contract “valid.” But coming up with a new theory, Ward tried again in December 2013 to have the contract held invalid. Once more, Goossen prevailed.
Responding to the latest decision, Dan Goossen said, “It’s now time to sit down with Andre and his advisers to put these legal disputes behind us and concentrate on getting Andre back to fighting consistently inside the ring. Andre and I have had success together and there’s no reason not to get back on track as a team to secure his status as the top fighter in the world behind Floyd Mayweather.”
Bert Fields, who argued the case for Goossen, said, “Of course I’m pleased with the decision. It was the right result, both morally and legally. Ward’s a great fighter but it was Goossen who helped build his professional career and put him in position to command the really big bucks.”
You can email Gabriel at email@example.com, follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/gabriel_montoya and catch him every Monday on “The Next Round” with Steve Kim, now at its new home, www.blogtalkradio.com/thenextround or via iTunes subscription at itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/leave-it-in-ring-radio-blog/id316004573?mt=2. You can also tune in to hear him and co-host David Duenez live on the BlogTalk radio show www.Leave-It-In-The-Ring.com, Thursdays at 5-8 p.m., PT.
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April 30, 2014