The fight was long suspected before it was announced but there is still a tangible feeling of disappointment for Floyd Mayweather (48-0, 26 KO’s) vs Andre Berto (30-3, 23 KO’s), especially so from the man who believed he would finally get his opportunity to defeat the undefeated king, Amir Khan (31-3, 19 KO’s).
The unbeaten Mayweather will face a Berto, who has lost three of his last six encounters on September 12th at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. Any man Mayweather chose to face after outpointing his nemesis Manny Pacquiao in May was going to feel like a step down in quality, and this feels like a steep drop indeed.
Khan was insisting his name was still in the running even when Mayweather himself revealed either Berto or Karim Mayfield would occupy the away corner for the last appearance on his six-fight Showtime contract. He, and a lot of the sport’s media seemed to treat those words as a jest. He must be feeling as sick as a dog right now.
Khan’s comments on Sky Sports had a stately feel to them, like an apologetic politician losing out on the candidacy to an inexplicable rival.
“I’m disappointed not to have got the fight for what is the third time after having been one of the front-runners.”
Khan’s pursuit of Mayweather stems from his days under Freddie Roach’s tutelage at the Wild Card Gym, where we first heard the grumblings that his hand speed and boxing ability may just be enough to usurp a Mayweather who was then in his full prime.
Since then Khan has moved up in weight and changed trainer to Virgil Hunter, an astute tactician in a lower key than Roach.
The Mayweather pursuit only accelerated throughout this transitional period, with Khan turning down an opportunity to face Devon Alexander for his IBF welterweight title at the tail-end of 2013 in the belief his dream fight was around the corner. It wasn’t.
Since that time the chase has become a source of ridicule in the boxing world as he continues to keep other big fights at arm’s length -like against the reigning IBF champion and longtime domestic rival Kell Brook- in the hope he will finally be granted entry to the ring with Mayweather.
The announcement that Andre Berto is filling his precious position must almost be a relief to the Bolton man as well as a grating fact of life. Berto is also trained by Hunter, and so Khan will have to stand by and watch the preparations and hear instructions and tactics meant for his ears. It’s almost cruel.
However, Khan can finally put to bed this increasingly unlikely fantasy and focus on his immediate competitors.
“However, there are many big fights out there for me and I’m going to continue working hard to establish myself at the top of the welterweight division.”
The aforementioned Kell Brook (35-0, 24 KO’s), WBA champion Keith Thurman (26-0, 22 KO’s), former titlist Shawn Porter (26-1-1, 16 KO’s) and old adversary Danny Garcia (31-0, 18 KO’s) would surely love to test themselves against a skill-set supposedly tailor-made to unseat the greatest of this generation.
Khan has been somewhat excused for his choice of opposition as he made his way to the 147 lb. class. He edged up from light-welter in catchweight bouts against Carlos Molina and Julio Diaz on the back of his knockout defeat to Danny Garcia in 2012; two decent fighters with no discernible power, which was fair enough given he was on the comeback trail.
He followed that by beating Luis Collazo, Devon Alexander and most recently Chris Algieri; again, all respectable names with strong abilities but who are not known for laying guys out.
It is understandable that Khan avoided all the big punchers around at this point as another KO loss would certainly ruin his chances at getting the Mayweather fight. Now that opportunity has clearly passed him by he needs to get in the ring with someone who could realistically crack that jaw of his. Any of the previously mentioned fighters will suffice.
No announcement will be forthcoming as of yet, and for now we are left with his prepared, stock comments on Mayweather vs. Berto that leave the impression that they were said with a huge sigh.
“Floyd Mayweather has fought the biggest names throughout his career and has earned the right to face whoever he chooses.”
“I wish my stablemate Andre Berto and trainer Virgil Hunter the very best of luck in the fight. I have seen how hard Andre trains and works and know that he is ready to give Floyd a very tough night.”