Amir Khan won last night, beating Chris Algieri as expected. But Algieri put up a hell of a lot more of a fight than most people were anticipating, with Khan winning by decision in a fight he had to truly earn every step of the way. We scored it 115-113 for Khan, as did judge Don Ackerman. Judges Benoit Roussel and Joseph Pasquale had it wider for Khan, both scoring it 117-111, but the consensus opinion out there is that Algieri (20-2, 8 KO) outperformed expectations, showing an aggression that was not expected.
The question now is, does that Amir Khan lost ground in the race to face Floyd Mayweather in September?
What it boils down to, really, is whether or not Algieri's "surprising" performance is a result of Algieri's preparation and ability, or if Khan just wasn't or isn't that good, and if someone else may be able to sneak in and take the Mayweather fight after what could be termed a disappointing outing for Khan.
Personally, my feeling is that Algieri is better than he was given credit for, and that experience in fights against Ruslan Provodnikov and Manny Pacquiao, coupled with his decision to hire John David Jackson, made for a very determined, very game Algieri against Khan (31-3, 19 KO). It's not that Khan fought poorly or below his normal standards, it's that Algieri also fought very well, and turned what many felt would be a one-sided fight into a real battle.
There's just no way that Khan and trainer Virgil Hunter could have anticipated Algieri fighting the way he did. Never a big puncher, Algieri fought going forward and showing a lot more to his offensive game than we've seen in the past, even in the wins over Provodnikov and Emmanuel Taylor, his two best to date. Khan was not dramatically better than Algieri in this fight, and even in terms of hand speed, Algieri didn't look completely outclassed, though Khan certainly held that advantage.
It also is not telling of what a Mayweather fight may be like. Algieri is taller than Khan by a couple inches, and had a slight reach advantage, not enough to be significant, really (an inch, officially), but certainly those are not the dimensions of Floyd Mayweather, who is shorter than Khan and would come in with a shorter reach by four inches.
And Mayweather also likely would not be coming at Khan the way that Algieri did. None of this is meant to say Algieri is a better fighter than Mayweather -- he's not, and it's not even close. But styles always make fights. Going in, this one appeared to be tailor made for Khan, but Algieri fought nothing like anyone anticipated. His refusal to let Khan breathe gave Amir some trouble, and opened up lanes for his right hand, especially, which landed pretty frequently and stunned Khan a few times, if never putting him in any actual danger.
Mayweather is not that fighter at 147 -- never has been, never will be. Floyd is not going to take any unnecessary risk, as he fights fairly small at the weight. Mayweather is more likely to take his usual approach, which in theory is good for Khan, who believes his hand speed is the key to battling the pound-for-pound king. While Mayweather still has fast hands himself, Khan's are probably quicker, and he believes that gives him the advantage to beat Floyd to the punch.
However, while Khan would arguably be the fastest fighter Mayweather's ever faced, Mayweather would also most likely be the fastest fighter Khan has faced (both arguments might be Zab Judah), and there's no telling how Khan reacts to someone who can match him. Algieri wasn't totally overwhelmed by Khan's speed, but he was also willing to eat punches in order to get close to Amir and try to rattle his cage. Mayweather would almost certainly not be looking to get in close and scrap with Khan, even if it might be a fairly easy fight for him in that sense. It's just not his style, and unlike Algieri, Mayweather's not recently come across any reason to switch things up, as each fight has been business as usual, more or less.
It's a totally different fight. Mayweather would obviously be the heavy favorite, and Khan winning would be a huge upset, no doubt about that. But the Algieri fight turning out difficult for Khan does not necessarily speak to how Khan may fare against Mayweather. Smart money is that Floyd figures out the way to win, as he always has.
The question now is whether or not Khan gets the chance to be figured out, or to prove that he's right, that he has the tools to trouble Floyd. There aren't many serious contenders out there for the September date, and of the ones who are available, Khan may in fact be the biggest star attraction and biggest name of the lot.
Kell Brook, for one, will look to make his case today against Frankie Gavin, but that's a fight barely even on the radar outside of the United Kingdom and diehard circles. Danny Garcia is out there, undefeated and owning a win over Khan at 140, but he's not exactly been a hot property of late. Other than those two, Khan, and Keith Thurman (who fights in July, which probably indicates he's not in the running), the field is pretty barren for a fight at 147.
Do you think Khan should get the date in September? Do you think he deserves it? Do you think he will get it, regardless of your thoughts on the other questions?