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Khan vs Lo Greco: Fight preview and matchup

Amir Khan returns after a two-year absence on Saturday.

Amir Khan

Amir Khan & Phil Lo Greco Media Work Out Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Record: 31-4 (19 KO) ... Streak: L1 ... Last 5: 4-1 ... Last 10: 7-3 ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 5’8½” / 71” ... Age: 31

Thoughts: Amir Khan is one of the more fascinating fighters of his time, a guy with the skills to have been an elite fighter, but some fatal flaws with a relatively weak chin combined with a sometimes leaky defense.

But the talent has always been there. He was a hyped prospect coming out of the amateurs, going pro in July 2005 and winning his first noteworthy title, the Commonwealth lightweight title, two years later. He looked great beating guys like Willie Limond and Graham Earl and Michael Gomez, then fought Breidis Prescott in September 2008, almost a full decade ago, an extra note for those of us who wanted to feel like time is passing us by today.

Anyway, Prescott knocked him spark out in 54 seconds. Khan recovered well, picking the bones of the shot Marco Antonio Barrera in March 2009, and then looking dominant in wins over the likes of Andriy Kotelnik, Dmitriy Salita, and Paulie Malignaggi in 2009-10. He managed to survive a hard-charging Marcos Maidana in December 2010, too, proving that punchers weren’t necessarily his kryptonite so long as he boxed smart.

Khan beat Paul McCloskey and Zab Judah in 2011, before losing an incredibly controversial decision to Lamont Peterson in December of that year, and then he was knocked out in four by Danny Garcia in the summer of 2012.

Again, he regrouped, stepped back the competition a bit and put together a streak. He beat Carlos Molina (not the good one) and Julio Diaz (barely) before putting in great performances against Luis Collazo and Devon Alexander, dominating those fights with his skills, as he is able to do when he fights focused. He beat Chris Algieri in May 2015.

Then he stunned the world and signed up for a 155-pound catchweight fight with Canelo Alvarez. He boxed well for a few rounds. He made Alvarez look slow. His hand speed was terrific. He was in shape. He looked the part. And then Canelo caught him and knocked him out cold in the sixth round.

It felt inevitable, it was the prediction that detractors said all along was inevitable, that sooner or later, Alvarez would catch Khan with a power shot, and Khan wouldn’t be able to stand up to it. Well, that’s what happened.

And that was two years ago. And Khan hasn’t fought since then. He did some stupid reality show in a jungle or whatever, and talked a lot about how much that changed his perspective. He says he’ll let his skills win him fights going forward. There’s already talk of a fall showdown with Kell Brook, something the UK media in particular have pushed for a few years now.

But he does have to get through this first bout with Phil Lo Greco. The mystery of this matchup is not so much if Khan will win or not, since everyone expects that he will, it’s how good he’ll look after a long break. Will he be rusty? Has the hunger left him? Or will he be refreshed and rejuvenated at age 31, after a break from the toils of training and fighting?

Phil Lo Greco

Amir Khan & Phil Lo Greco Media Work Out Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Record: 28-3 (15 KO) ... Streak: W1 ... Last 5: 3-2 ... Last 10: 7-3 ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 5’8” / 68” ... Age: 33

Thoughts: Phil Lo Greco is a mediocre fighter — relatively speaking, of course, he’s not incompetent or anything — from Toronto who has been badly exposed in past step-up fights, and has been hand-picked by Khan’s team to be a risk-free comeback opponent with at least very mild name value.

He is perhaps best known for being friends with Paulie Malignaggi. I remember a video of the two of them in Italy on a boat, or swimming by a boat, and Malignaggi was cutting a rant on someone, and Malignaggi went, “WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR BALLS?!” to his target, like he was Christopher Moltisanti.

This is all I really have to say about Phil Lo Greco. I don’t even really mean any disrespect to the man, he’s done a good job selling this fight and antagonizing Khan, and with Khan’s chin, sure, there’s always a chance he scores a shocker, but it’s a small chance, and Khan has protected his chin fine against better fighters and bigger punchers.

Matchup Grade: D+. It is what it is, it’s a tune-up return bout for Khan after two years off. They picked a guy they’re certain Khan will beat and can look good against. Lo Greco has done his job selling the fight, and will surely try his best here — a win opens up a lot of possibilities for him. But if talent proves out, as it usually does, Khan will win handily, assuming he hasn’t greatly diminished in his time off.

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