By Ollie Salt, courtesy of The Daily Star
AMIR KHAN could take a beating against Terence Crawford in New York next month, according to Paulie Malignaggi.
Khan is daring to be great by taking on one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in world boxing at Madison Square Garden on April 20.
Many regard Crawford, the undefeated WBO welterweight chief who has also claimed world titles at lightweight and super lightweight, as the No.1 fighter on the planet and expect him to get the job done in style.
It will be Khan’s first world-title tilt since he was knocked out in brutal fashion after stepping up two weight classes to face Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez in May 2016.
Malignaggi knows the Bolton man all too well and is certainly well-placed to analyse his crack at glory over in the States, being that he was stopped by Khan in the latter’s maiden American outing back in 2010.
Yet, the former two-weight world champion believes his old foe isn’t the fighter he once was – and forebodes a painful night for him up against someone as skilled as Crawford.
“There was a time when Amir was impossible to outbox, you had to take the fight to him,” he exclusively told Starsport.
“I think at this point he’s kind of gotten a little bit past it and he’s starting to slow down.
“And because of that, Amir can be not only outfought but now he can also be outboxed – and that’s a shame that the fight is happening now where Amir’s diminished himself to that point.
“So I don’t really give Amir much of a chance. A few years ago I would have thought this was a great fight, but I don’t think so anymore.
“When Amir’s lost by knockout, he’s not taken beatings because he’s got himself caught and just got knocked out. But I think the potential for taking a beating in this fight is there, because Amir can now be outboxed. Whereas before he wasn’t really able to be outboxed, you just had to catch him, but now Terence can actually beat him up and, again, it’s because Amir has kind of fallen off more so than what Terence is gonna be doing.
“Terence could have been doing great things and it would have been a great fight a few years ago, but now it’s just one-sided for me.”
At the age of 32, there is no doubt Khan has already made his mark in the sport – regardless of how he fares against Crawford next month.
For all the success that has come his way in 14 years as a professional, though, it is somewhat inevitable that one intriguing argument will never be put to bed.
British boxing fans have long demanded a showdown between Khan and domestic rival Kell Brook, who held the IBF welterweight strap from 2014-17, yet an agreement between the pair has continuously failed to materialise and it now seems further from happening than ever before.
According to Malignaggi, Khan has been ‘willing to do absolutely anything in the world’ to avoid Brook, and the New Yorker has called for his ex-opponent to be held to greater scrutiny over doing so.
“Listen, respect to both guys, but I think when you’re willing to do anything, absolutely anything in the world, to avoid one guy – I think you really need to stop asking [if it will ever happen],” he said.
“People need to start asking the tough questions to Amir. Be honest, you don’t really wanna fight this guy, you never wanted to fight this guy. And that’s fine, but stop playing the games now.
“Respect to both guys for great careers, but really it’s very, very clear that Amir never wanted to fight Kell Brook. Never ever ever. He didn’t even want the fight brought up to him, so it’s very obvious.”