Johnny Nelson claims that Amir Khan is ‘stuck between a rock and a hard place’ with potential fights looming against Danny Garcia and Kell Brook.
But Clitheroe’s Commonwealth king Luke Blackledge doesn’t see it that way. In fact, the super-middleweight feels that the Bolton boxer could find himself in an ideal position.
Khan, who still isn’t letting his dream of fighting Floyd Mayweather go, portrayed by the weekend exchange at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles, is mandatory challenger to WBC world champion Danny Garcia after the Pennsylvanian pugilist outpointed Robert Guerrero to win the vacant strap.
The World Boxing Council has now ordered their welterweight supremo to make a defence of his strap against Khan by June.
“I watched the Garcia/Guerrero fight,” said Blackledge. “He’s a good fighter and a big puncher. He can use both hands to good effect but he’s got a brilliant left hook. He definitely deserved to win the fight even though it wasn’t his most convincing performance.”
Garcia stopped Khan inside four rounds at 140lbs in July 2012 when a devastating left hook turned the contest on its head.
However, Blackledge feels it will be a completely different fight this time around should Khan manage the occasion better.
The former WBA Super World and IBF World super lightweight champion has taken an alternative avenue since that loss, transferring from Freddie Roach to Virgil Hunter, who was once voted trainer of the year by the Boxing Writers Association of America.
Khan has matured as an athlete and looks more of a prospect at 147lbs, winning all five outings under the watchful eye of Hunter.
“Amir Khan has got the skills to beat him but you can understand why he wouldn’t be in a rush to fight him after what happened last time,” Blackledge said.
“He was badly beaten. Garcia is a big hitter but I think Khan could out-box him and take it on points. He can’t afford to get involved like he did last time. He let his emotions take over but he stands a chance if he sticks to the gameplan.
“He’s improved a lot, he’s world class, but I’m surprised at how many people still underestimate him. People are still convinced that he’s got a ‘glass’ jaw.
“He only showed that weakness when he was young and against some very big hitters.”
He added: “He’s toughened up a lot, he’s better suited to welterweight and he’s still got his speed. I think he’d stand a good chance in that fight.
“He’s got a world class trainer by his side now. He was out-working him and winning that fight last time and I think he’ll see it through under Virgil.
“It helps because he’s been brought up to the next level and he’s being guided which is a massive advantage. He’s got a world class team with him.
“It makes good business sense to take that route though because win or lose he’s always got the Kell Brook fight to fall back on.”
And that could then pave the way for a blockbuster with fellow Brit Brook who holds the IBF belt. Brook is set to make a third defence of his title against Kevin Bizier at the Sheffield Arena in March.
“If he wins it could set up a big unification contest with Kell Brook which would be another huge British contest,” said the 25-year-old BoxNation fighter.
“I think he’s playing it right. It’s a big payday against Brook but nothing comes after that if he loses. He’s got nothing to fall back on. At the end of the day boxing is a business and he’s playing it smart.
“Khan v Brook is a fight that the British public want to see eventually and it would be just as big as Froch v Groves. It would be a massive show. Both fighters need to start being more active than they have been though.”