By Tim Nielson: Golden Boy Promotions president Oscar De La Hoya thinks former IBF/WBA light welterweight champion Amir Khan (30-3, 19 KOs) is on his way to becoming a No.1 pound-for-pound fighter in boxing. De La Hoya promotes Khan, and he believes he’s still got a long future ahead of him at the top of the sport.
Khan has changed his fighting style under the guidance of expert trainer Virgil Hunter, who also trains WBA super middleweight champion Andre Ward. Hunter has turned Khan from a reckless fighter that occasionally got knocked out to a fighter who is mostly defensive and takes few chances.
Khan uses his height, reach, long jab and blazing fast hand speed to dominate his opponents from long distance. Gone are the days where Khan would look to engage in wars with his opponents after they’d nail him with big shots.
“I have no doubt in my mind that Amir Khan will be the No.1 pound-for-pound fighter someday,” De La Hoya said via the Boxing Channel. “This is the new and improved Amir Khan, and the new and improved Amir Khan will be dangerous for a lot of guys.”
For Khan to evolve into a No.1 pound-for-pound fighter, he’s probably going to need to wait until both Floyd Mayweather Jr and Manny Pacquiao retire from the game, as both of them are just so good right now that it’s hard to conceive of Khan being able to outdo them.
Likewise, WBA/WBO super bantamweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux and Andre Ward are going to need to age to the point where they’re no longer dominating their opposition like they used to do before Khan can move past them in the pound-for-pound list. But more important than that, Khan is going to need to start fighting better opposition if he wants to take the No.1 spot. He may not be ready to acknowledge it but the fact is he’s been matched carefully by his adviser Al Haymon ever since he was knocked out by Danny Garcia in 2012.
Khan has fought a couple of old guys in Julio Diaz and Luis Collazo, and he’s beaten some light punchers like Devon Alexander and Carlos Molina. While Khan is telling the boxing world that his win over Alexander has earned him a shot against Mayweather and Pacquiao, the fans and some writers believe that Khan needs to do more than that to rate a fight against one or both of them.
Khan needs to face the likes of Keith Thurman, Brandon Rios, Tim Bradley, Lucas Matthysse, Kell Brook and Marcos Maidana before he can get to the next level.