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Can Algieri spoil Khan’s plans for a showdown with Mayweather?

Khan v Algieri

British welterweight Amir Khan (30-3 19 KOs) is back in action this Friday night in the Barclays Center, New York against former WBO Light Welterweight champion Chris Algieri (20-1, 8 KOs). Khan will be defending his Silver WBC Welterweight title, but by all accounts he would have liked to have been facing another opponent entirely.

Khan is desperate to be Floyd Mayweather’s opponent for his final fight in September, not in the least because it will be another great money spinner for all parties involved, but also because Khan is a fighter with something to prove. He has had setbacks in his career, but he has demonstrated his resilience as a fighter to rebound from crushing losses and become a two time world champion.

He is an exciting fighter to watch, but to be a truly great fighter he needs to fight the best the division can offer and he needs to perform outstandingly against them.

With that in mind you could understand how Khan might be quietly frustrated with the choice of opponent for the fight on Friday. Khan has stated that he took the Algieri fight in desperation, fearful that he might not get another opportunity to fight until later in the year.

He had hoped to be fighting Adrien Broner, who instead will fight Shawn Porter on the 20th June in Las Vegas. The consensus is that the Algieri fight is being used as a last resort as a showcase of Khan’s talents in order to begin negotiations with the Mayweather camp.

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With so much emphasis on Mayweather and the future Khan could be accused of not giving his opponent the proper respect or attention. American Chris Algieri is a former kickboxer and the former WBO Light Welterweight boxing champion. Having fought most of his career in the state of New York, he came to prominence in 2014 with a surprise win over Emmanual Taylor.

He then fought the bullish Ruslan Provodnikov for the WBO Light Welterweight title, and despite suffering two knockdowns in the first round he fought back to win a split decision. His only career loss came at the hands of Manny Pacquiao; who knocked Algieri down six times on route to an unanimous points decision.

Algieri is also something of an enigma in boxing, he comes from a middle class background and delights in informing the press of his degree in healthcare science and how he has plans to establish himself in the sports nutrition field when he retires from boxing. One would question why a young man with a much easier career path would opt to make his living fighting, but Algieri insists that his desire to compete is what motivates him.

It is that desire which could have an impact on the outcome of the fight with Khan. Algieri has demonstrated that he has a knack for creating an upset. His orthodox style is underlined by movement, speed and a good jab. Pacquiao claimed it was Algieri’s speed that negated the opportunity to force a stoppage during their fight.

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It appears that Algeiri’s biggest asset is his heart, as he has demonstrated his ability to get up from a knock down and fight back. He has also recently added something else to his arsenal, a new trainer in the form of former middleweight champion John David Jackson. Jackson has worked with world class fighters including; Sergey Kovalev, Shane Mosley, Nate Campbell and Bernard Hopkins. It will be interesting to see if he can add anything new to Algieri’s repertoire.

Khan insists he is only focused on Algieri, despite all the hype surrounding a fight down the line with Mayweather. However he did make the mistake of looking past Breidis Prescott in 2008 and suffered a shock first round knockout defeat. Khan is not without his vulnerabilities, his willingness to brawl has led him into dangerous territory on more than one occasion.

Yet, it is these qualities that make him such an exciting fighter to watch. However he will be keen to ensure he does not make the mistakes of the past in future fights. Khan has recently changed trainers, enlisting the help of Andre Ward’s coach Tony Brady. If Brady can make adjustments to the elements of Khan’s style that sometimes leaves him vulnerable and utilise his speed then he could potentially turn in a devastating performance on Friday.

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Algieri may have avoided being knocked out by Manny Pacquiao but that is perhaps less of an achievement and more of an indiment of how Pacquaio’s renowned punching power has not been as effective as he has moved through the weight divisions.

In Amir Khan, Algieri will be facing a legitimate welterweight, who is fast, strong and world class. With all due respect to Algieri, apart from Pacquiao he has not fought an opponent who would be on the same level as Khan. Algieri is a determined fighter with the heart of a lion and a habit of upsetting the odds. It would not be totally inconceivable if this fight went the distance.

However with a potential fight against Mayweather on the horizon, Khan will want to ensure his date with destiny. Fans can expect Khan to be focused and prepared for the fight with Algieri, his speed and power will likely overwhelm the American so expect a knockout victory for Khan but don’t be surprised if it’s in the later rounds.

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