Aftermath: Khan vs Vargas / Garcia vs Porter
In the aftermath of Khan vs Vargas and Garcia vs Porter, Callum Rudge, Colin Harris, Lee Gormley, James Oddy, Chris Williamson, Andrew Harrison, Martin Chesnutt and Shaun Brown consider how these fights have altered the welterweight landscape...
BM: On the basis of his fight against Samuel Vargas, how much does Amir Khan have left and do you think Khan vs Kell Brook is next?
CR: Khan still has very good speed and power but I think that’s about it. He slowed down from around round five last night and even though he won the fight comfortably, you would expect Khan to stop someone like Vargas, who despite having no advantages, managed to hurt Khan several times. Khan will pursue the Pacquiao fight first, but his promoter Eddie Hearn clearly prefers the Brook fight, and I think a combination of Hearn, Sky and Brook will force his hand and the fight will finally be made.
CH: I still think this is Khan's final run for a nice big payday - and I feel that deep down he knows it. He will do well enough to get a title shot (probably against Pacquiao) but probably fall short of winning. He will then seek a final fight at 11st against Brook, who will hopefully be a world champion then. However I think by the time all this has happened it will be too late and the Khan vs Brook fight will be one of those "what a shame it never happened!" stories. I don't see the fight happening now/ next because Khan can make 147lbs while Brook will stay at 154lbs and each will say the fight has to be at their weight.
LG: Khan still possesses the hand speed he's renowned for and showed some decent power early on to hurt Vargas, before tiring at the midway point. But it's clear that he's no longer at that elite level and any of the current 147lbs champions would have no problem in beating him. He's always in entertaining fights, which can be dangerous at this stage of his career, but the Brook bout has to be next if Hearn can't get Pacquiao. There are no longer any obstacles in the way of that fight with both fighters now with Matchroom, so there's no excuses for not making it next. If they delay it further and use the weight as an issue, it will be clear neither party really wants to risk it.
JO: It's hard not to look at Khan and feel he's not reached the heights he was capable of. He had supreme talent but inactivity and futile, if understandable, pursuits of Mayweather and Pacquiao stalled him badly in later years. The Canelo bout was bizarre as well. He still looks a top fighter but not what he quite was. Neither a fight with Pacquiao or Brook appeal to me as much as they did two or three years ago. One of the two will certainly happen, but I'm not convinced they will hold the appeal to the general public they once did.
CW: Khan is still a relatively young man who has retained his speed which is, of course, one of his most important attributes. Unfortunately for Khan his punch resistance is poor at fringe world level and a liability at elite world level. You’d back all of the champions to stop Khan and I personally have little interest in Khan vs Brook. Khan seems to be targeting former gym-mate and WBA champ Manny Pacquiao, who Amir once told me he fared very well against in sparring. I’d love to see the ageing legend in the U.K. for that match and would back Pacquiao to win by KO.
AH: Khan looks an accident waiting to happen – but he’s looked that way for a number of years now. He’s surely in the final phase of his career. How long that lasts will depend on the quality of his future opposition. I wouldn’t give him a prayer of beating anyone in the top six (if you include Keith Thurman in that). If his management are looking for a winnable fight against a recognisable name in the top 15, then Jessie Vargas or Adrien Broner would fit the bill (and he’s not a lock to beat either). Brook offers him the most lucrative option and I see no sense in Amir hanging around any longer.
MC: I really don’t care if Khan vs Brook happens. Both fighters are past their peak, in my opinion - Khan more so than Brook - and this fight was genuinely exciting five years ago. I’m a fan of both, but feel for Brook. Since he blew away Kevin McIntyre in one round for the British welterweight title, we hoped he would develop into a Shane Mosley-style boxer-puncher, wrecking machine. Yes, he’s made money as part of the Matchroom/ Sky set-up, but I feel he wasted his prime years parked on the sidelines, while his promoter angled for the big Khan payday. This could be a Junior Witter situation, with Khan, the much bigger celebrity of the two, revelling in dangling the carrot he will never offer Brook. Khan has no business being even one ounce above 147lbs, and Brook, a fine boxer, really should look to move on and clear up big fights at 154 if he’s interested in legacy. If it’s simply about a payday, carry on pleading with Khan, and let Eddie do his magic.
SB: Judging by the first half of the fight, Khan has a lot left. But the second half, not forgetting the knockdown, was concerning, considering the calibre of opponent. He was brought down to Vargas' level in rounds six to 12. There was some same old negatives and I didn't think he looked well conditioned either. His name carries weight so we will all time in to his next fight. I don't favour him against Pacquaio, Brook (at 147lbs or not) or the elite at welterweight. I don't think Khan vs Brook happens at all. The weight issue reflects on Khan's confidence to meet Brook at 154 or a catchweight.
BM: Post-Danny García vs Shawn Porter how do you see the American welterweight scene playing out?
CR: At this point you have to place Errol Spence as the number 1 in the division. Although Keith Thurman has the better record he has been inactive for 18 months and has made no strong noises about coming back any time soon. Spence vs Porter looks next and Terence Crawford will take on what’s on offer on the Top Rank side of the street. Spence will face Porter, a mandatory and then Mikey Garcia while Crawford ticks over and eventually faces Pacquiao.
CH: Spence has to be ranked first with Crawford a close second. The biggest trouble with welterweight is still the lack of activity! I'd like Thurman to be stripped of his WBA 'Super' title, for Pacquaio and Crawford to unify the WBA/WBO titles and for Spence and Porter to unify the WBC/IBF. The trouble at this point is while Crawford will be willing to unify all four belts, Spence (who will beat Porter) will most likely be drawn to a big-money fight with Mikey Garcia (who really should try and unify vs Lomachenko, once he has the WBA/WBO lightweight titles) and we will see the TV stations contracts deny us 10st 7lbs supreme unification, which is sad. The welterweight division has great past form compared to other divisions in terms of unifying fragmented titles and showing us who the top dog is.
LG: The American welterweight scene is great for the fans, providing we actually get to see these guys mix it up. Spence Jr was quick to call out Porter after the latter outpointed Garcia and he's still the main man in the division for me, at least until Crawford overcomes one of the other bigger names. Spence and Crawford are two of the top five or six best fighters in the world and are currently in the same division, so it's a 'super-fight' we need to see. Only typical boxing politics is holding it back (or if Spence grows out of the division sooner rather than later). Garcia is still a credible opponent for either fighter despite his latest loss, while Thurman's return would be welcomed and Porter now has a belt too. All roads should lead to Crawford vs Spence!
JO: The question really revolves around Thurman and if he will fight again anytime soon, if at all. Spence and Crawford are the top two, in terms of talent, but I'd love to see 'One Time' match up against them. Porter is a nice addition, a tough, rough physical fighter who can match it with any of the above.
CW: Garcia vs Porter was a terrific fight and Garcia shouldn’t lose any status with the narrow points loss he suffered. One hopes that the PBC-Fox deal announced last week provides the platform for more dates and further welterweight match-ups between the painfully inactive Thurman, Porter, Garcia and Spence Jr, all of whom the PBC have under contract. Spence and Top Rank’s WBO titlist Crawford are the two top dogs and I really can’t pick between them without a good deal more thought and analysis of their fight tapes, which it if gets made I’ll be more than happy to do!
AH: I thought Garcia vs Porter was another OK fight between good welterweights (the latest in a canon that includes Thurman vs Garcia and Porter vs Broner, Thurman and Brook). Unfortunately, all of those fights went twelve rounds and the majority of the decisions were disputed to varying extents - the victors have failed to separate themselves from the pack. The division is crying out for someone to stamp their authority on it in decisive fashion. After Spence bludgeoned Brook to defeat, it looked like he could be 'the man' but that was more than a year ago and he’s done little of consequence since. While a unification match between Spence and Porter looks likely, the best fight in the division - Spence vs Crawford – looks miles away. As Callum mentioned, Crawford will beat up on Benavidez and Pacquiao while Spence deals with Porter and Thurman. Unfortunately, the PBC boys fight once in a blue moon and Mayweather’s legacy, namely not to face your biggest test until you’ve exhausted all other options first, will likely scupper Spence vs Crawford until the fight is no longer what it is today: one of the most meaningful that could be made at any weight.
MC: At some point money will rule and Spence Jr. and Crawford will be brought together. I don’t like the high risk/low reward excuse, but considering how good these two are, and how unknown they both are to the general public, I’m willing to give them a pass for avoiding each other at this stage. Avoiding is the wrong word, perhaps, as their promoters have no reason to do business with each other. As for the rest of the U.S. 147lbs talent, they’re good, but there is no unbelievably special talent among them. Thurman’s work rate and aggressive style would force the best from either Spence or Crawford, but he still looks limited against their skill set. Garcia was a dangerous puncher at 140, but is merely a respected puncher at 147. He’s a boxer now, doesn’t have the ‘get out of jail free’ card anymore, and his in-ring body language suggests safety first. Porter is a great guy, solid, but his peers appear to have more to offer. There is no Sugar Ray Leonard in this bunch, unless Spence and Crawford start conclusively clearing out the big names now.
SB: The American welterweight scene only plays out to a conclusion if Spence fights Crawford and Thurman comes back. The latter has wins over both Garcia and Porter so his stock probably got a lift last night despite his absence from the sport. Spence vs Porter or Thurman is fine by me but what we all want is Spence vs Crawford. And after last night's comments from the IBF champion and the reply on social media from the WBO champion the chances of it happening any time soon are slim ... or none!