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IT’S the worst kept secret in boxing right now, but next week we should receive confirmation that Amir Khan will challenge WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford on April 20.
All that is left to be revealed is the venue – rumoured to be either New York or Las Vegas – and an explanation as to why Crawford appealed more than Kell Brook, the Brit with whom Khan has been linked for some time now.
“Everything looks good,” promoter Bob Arum told ESPN. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to make an announcement next week. It’s not done until it’s done, but I’m very optimistic.
“New York or Las Vegas, those are the two spots we are talking about. It’s a big fight and Khan and Crawford have lot of people fly to their fights.
“They both have good fan bases, and that’s what a place like Las Vegas looks for – customers to come in and fill the hotel rooms.
“A place like Madison Square Garden looks to fill the seats and doesn’t care about filling hotel rooms. Wherever, I am very optimistic the fight is going to happen.”
Of course, it shouldn’t require a Khan explanation to understand why the former world super-lightweight champion has prioritised Crawford, a three-division world champion, over Brook, the thorn in his side. Chances are, Khan has decided to go in this direction because a defeat to Crawford, which many believe is inevitable, won’t necessarily be enough to rule out the opportunity to finally make some money with Brook in England at some point later in the year. Should that ring true, his latest move is sensible not stupid – at least from a business point of view.
Oleksandr Usyk, the undisputed king of the cruiserweights, is currently taking a well-earned rest but will, at some point in 2019, re-emerge as a heavyweight.
That’s the word coming from his promoter, Alexander Krasyuk of K2, who is hinting that Usyk’s business at cruiserweight is pretty much done and that it’s more likely he will test his skills against a former world heavyweight champion in the coming months.
“At the present moment, we are negotiating with no one,” he told the Ukrainian media. “Usyk and his team are presently having a much-needed rest. But I can already tell you that we are experiencing problems finding a suitable opponent.
“(Joseph) Parker and (Jarrell) Miller both refused to fight Alexander, (Carlos) Takam has called out Dereck Chisora, and (Dillian) Whyte will most probably fight (Anthony) Joshua in April.
“We have only Alexander Povetkin and Luis Ortiz left amongst the top-notch heavyweights. We have a 70% chance that Oleksandr fights one of them in his first bout as a heavyweight.”
While a heavyweight duel with a faded veteran would appear to be Team Usyk’s first option, they are not ruling out the possibility of him remaining in the cruiserweight division and putting all four of his belts on the line for a second time (following a stunning eight-round knockout of Tony Bellew in November).
“If those options fail, we can have a mandatory defense against Denis Lebedev in March,” said Krasyuk. “We’re planning to meet with (Usyk co-promoter) Eddie Hearn at the end of the next week to talk more about our options.”
Given the incredible 2018 Oleksandr Usyk had, let’s allow him all the time in the world to make up his mind. Because if anyone deserves our patience, it’s him, the official Boxing News ‘Fighter of the Year’.