After being unceremoniously dumped prior to the big dance, Amir Khan returns to the ring May 3 to face crafty southpaw Luis Collazo on the undercard of the Floyd Mayweather vs. Marcos Maidana main event at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Khan believed he, not Maidana, would face Mayweather next weekend. He pulled out of a fight with Devon Alexander last December, signed his name to a contract, and waited for Mayweather to officially announce their bout. The declaration looked inevitable when Khan easily defeated Maidana in an internet poll, orchestrated by Mayweather.
But then something happened. Mayweather, the biggest star in the fight game, changed his mind after Maidana upset his protégé, Adrien Broner.
“I’m just mad what he did to Adrien Broner,” said Mayweather on Showtime’s ‘All Access’.” I’m upset, but I’ve got to stay focused.”
Mayweather also said that if Khan wants to fight him, he would have to earn it. Khan, after grumbling his disappointment with Mayweather, accepted the challenge and decided to meet former welterweight champion Collazo instead.
The last few years haven’t been kind to Khan. He lost his junior welterweight crown by a controversial decision to Lamont Peterson and then, after dominating most of the early rounds, was stopped by Danny Garcia.
Khan dumped one noted trainer, Freddie Roach, and hired another, Virgil Hunter. He’s won twice since, stopping Carlos Molina in the last round and, after being floored, winning a close decision over tough Julio Diaz.
Hunter has a feeling that if Khan (28-3, 19 KOs) can get past Collazo (35-5, 18 KOs), the Mayweather fight could still happen.
“I feel not getting the fight was a blessing in disguise,” Hunter told the www.dailystar.co.uk.“I believe Amir will eventually get that fight.”
“And, when that time comes, he will be much more ready to win that fight. I believe Floyd Mayweather will fight Amir Khan next year.
“By then, Amir will have another couple of fights and two or three more training camps. Having that advantage will make it more dangerous for Floyd,” Hunter said.
Khan, 27, is aware of Collazo’s resume. The Brooklyn, N.Y. resident put himself back in the title picture by dispatching former beltholder Victor Ortiz two and a half months ago. Ortiz was the betting favorite going into the fight. Physically he looked ready, but mentally he might have still been on the set of “Dancing with the Stars.” Collazo, never known for his one-punch power, starched Ortiz with a single left hook.
The win was the most important in the career of the thirty-two-year old Collazo. He was seen by many to be nothing more than a stepping stone for Ortiz.
“Defeating Victor Ortiz in January was just the beginning,” Collazo said in a story by newsday.com. “Facing and beating Amir Khan on the biggest stage in the sport is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I will take full advantage of this and put myself in the best position to face the winner of the main event.”
Collazo has been underrated most of his career. He captured the welterweight championship in 2005 by defeating Juan Antonio Rivera. He lost his belt 13 months later to another fighter from England by the name of Ricky Hatton. Collozo gave Hatton fits during their 12- round battle, but Hatton got the decision. Collazo also came up short in fights with Shane Mosley and Andre Berto.
While many feel Khan is looking ahead to a potential matchup with Mayweather, the native of Bolton, England disagrees.
“Collazo’s a one of a kind fighter,” Khan said. “You know, he has his own style, I respect the way he fights and he always causes big problems to his opponents, and he does really well in the ring. I’m not going to compare him to any opponent I’ve faced before.
“I’ve not faced a Collazo before, so I need to work on a new strategy and to work on a new game plan, and my trainer Virgil is helping me to overcome that,” said Khan.