Two of the best welterweights in the world will be in action this weekend, as Amir Khan faces former Manny Pacquiao opponent Chris Algieri in Brooklyn and undefeated IBF champion Kell Brook defends against fellow Brit Frankie Gavin in London.
These should be relatively easy wins for both Khan and Brook. Algieri is a gutsy and skilled fighter, as he proved in coming back to win by split decision after two first-round knockdowns against Ruslan Provodnikov last year. But Algieri struggled terribly against Pacquiao’s speed and Khan is just as quick as Pacquiao. Algieri lacks significant power, which has traditionally been Khan’s Achilles’ Tendon.
Khan has looked very good in his recent fights and the version of him who handled Devon Alexander last December should be able to win a wide decision against Algieri.
Brook, too, is facing a talented opponent who ultimately seems to lack the physical tools to compete with him. Gavin was an amateur world champion. But he lost to Leonard Bundu by split decision and I’d just Brook as a solid notch above Bundu. He’s a better, more explosive athlete than Gavin and should rough him up in the latter half of the fight.
In an ideal world, Khan and Brook would face off later this year in a true Battle of Britain. This has already been a good year for British boxing. James DeGale turned in a tactical but exciting performance in winning the IBF super middleweight title last weekend against Andre Dirrell. Brook looks like he could be on the verge of inheriting Carl Froch’s mantle as Britain’s biggest boxing star.
Khan has been angling for a shot against either Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather for years now. Despite the fact that Khan is one of the few fighters with the speed to compete against either fighter, his two knockout losses would make him a hard sell for that kind of pay-per-view event, at least in the United States.
Beyond that, Pacquiao is going to be out of action for the rest of the year following shoulder surgery and will want to fight Mayweather again when he comes back. Mayweather has already said he’s only going to fight once more. A break for the rest of the year and then a rematch makes sense, even if Mayweather-Pacquiao II is the last thing I’d personally be interested in seeing.
So for Khan, a showdown for bragging domestic bragging rights and a loose belt at 147 pounds is the more realistic option. The winner would emerge as not only the best welterweight in the U.K., but also as one of the elite welterweights left in a post-Mayweather world.