Everyone's a winner?
Shaun Brown analyses today's shock news that Amir Khan has signed a three-fight deal with his former social media sparring partner Eddie Hearn...
During the final days and weeks of 2017 you would have been hard pushed to find anyone, outside those in the know, who would have predicted the headline ‘Amir Khan signs three-fight deal with Matchroom Boxing’ in 2018.
Ten days into the year and a relationship that was once used for trading verbals online and through reporters is now a working one. And one that Khan hopes will return him to the status of world champion, something that hasn’t been part of any description associated with the 31-year-old for six years.
Those 72 months allied with his recent 20 months outside the ring – which will have become 23 by the time he returns on 21 April at Liverpool’s Echo Arena - are just two factors that Khan will have to overcome in his bid to regain credibility in a sport where he is equally remembered for his KO losses to Breidis Prescott and Danny Garcia as he is for his memorable victories against the likes of Marcos Maidana and Devon Alexander.
Furthermore Khan’s life has been as dramatic outside the ring as it has been inside it of late. Gossip columnists have likely filed as much copy if not more on Khan, since his heavy defeat to Canelo Alvarez, than sports writers have.
There is work to do for Khan, his team around him and his new friend and promoter Eddie Hearn. It is time for Khan to re-establish himself, to repair his credibility and to remind us all that his should be a career remembered for things such as his dazzling hand speed, box office appeal and exciting fights, instead of who he has fallen out via social media with and what side of the tracks his marriage to Faryal Makhdoom is on.
On his best day Khan stood toe-to-toe and defeated Marcos Maidana, out thought and out fought Devon Alexander and proved too much for Paulie Malignaggi and an up and down Zab Judah. It feels like a lifetime ago. 147lbs, where the 2004 Olympic silver medalist will once again campaign before paths cross somewhere along a catchweight line with his new stable mate Kell Brook, has changed dramatically since the age of Khan. New kids on the block have emerged, pound for pound superstars have moved up to the marquee weight class and the overall welter top 10 has a depth of talent and experience to match any division out there.
By the time Khan reaches the end of the year, and has himself tooled up thoroughly for a winter rumble with one of the top dogs, the landscape will have changed but the threats will be similar. Put all this together and 2018 is shaping up to be the most critical year in Khan’s career. One more loss and the new chapter will be over before we’ve figured out whether or not it will have a happy ending.
One thing that Khan and Hearn have proved today, if we didn’t already know it, is that anything can happen in boxing. The 24/7 voices on social media haven’t forgotten what has been said by both parties, but it’s water under the bridge apparently. Pearly white business smiles prove “if it makes dollars, it makes sense”.
And as Khan told iFL TV in an interview after today's press conference: “It’s business”.
Khan’s bank balance and career expectations are better off, Hearn has jumped at the opportunity to sign a fighter whose profile has elevated itself thanks to exploits on reality television and Khan vs Brook - albeit a few years past its sell by date – is more likely than ever before.
Everyone’s a winner, right?