Chris LaBate of BoxingScene.com reports that Amir Khan has agreed to fight Timothy Bradley on July 23, telling Golden Boy Promotions to sign the deal. The fight has been rumored for months now -- even before Khan's fight with Paul McCloskey on April 16 -- with the date set aside well in advance. It appears now that the only thing remaining is for the fighters to sign the contracts.
Bradley (27-0, 11 KO) last fought on January 29, defeating Devon Alexander by 10-round technical decision after an accidental headbutt left Alexander unable to continue. Similarly, Khan (25-1, 17 KO) defeated McCloskey by six-round technical decision, also because of an accidental headbutt.
Khan swept the cards 60-54 against McCloskey, and deservedly so, but he has shown a lot of flaws in his last two fights. In December against Marcos Maidana, Khan fought recklessly after dominating early on, eventually getting wobbled and wailed on by the Argentinean brawler late in the fight, surviving a dicey 10th round and holding on to win on unanimous scores of 114-111 (twice) and 113-112.
Against McCloskey, Khan fought ugly, lunging and failing to find his opponent with many clean punches. He outworked McCloskey and was obviously the superior fighter, but one got the impression that Khan could have settled down and been more impressive by fighting smarter.
Compare that to Bradley's last two fights, wins over Alexander and last July against Luis Carlos Abregu in a one-off at welterweight, plus his December 2009 fight with Lamont Peterson. In all of those fights, Bradley was patient-but-aggressive, consistent in his attacks, and at the end of the evening was the clear winner each time. He didn't dominate any of them in the way that, say, Amir Khan dominated Paul Malignaggi last May, or the way Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather Jr. dominate their foes, but he always seems to be just that bit better than his opponents, no matter what style they have. Will he be better than Khan?
Personally, I've gone from thinking that Khan would be able to use his speed and reach to score a wide win over Bradley to seeing this as a pick'em, if not slightly favoring Bradley. I think for natural talent, Khan takes the fight. But when you factor in the mental side of things, I think Bradley might very well have a huge advantage.
Who do you like in this one, and has your opinion swayed after Khan's last two fights?