Floyd Mayweather Jr. is doing something fascinating these days: he’s hyping up Amir Khan, all the while clearly trying to undermine Manny Pacquiao’s place as arguably the best or second best pound-for-pounder in the world.
It's a pretty great plan.
A week ago, we noted on Opposing Views that Amir Khan could end up being the biggest reason why Mayweather vs. Pacquiao doesn't come to fruition. Presuming he’s able to beat Lamont Peterson this May, the 25-year-old Khan would be back in line for whatever top-tier bout he wanted. Since he has come out and publicly said that he won't fight Pacquiao, Mayweather would appear to be the most logical choice.
And Mayweather, one of the smartest and shrewdest athletes in the sports world, realizes that. Whereas Khan sees the undefeated Mayweather as his shot at legitimacy, his opportunity to prove that he’s the best around, Mayweather sees something entirely different in Khan.
What Mayweather sees is the perfect guy to elevate in the eyes of fans and the media, and someone with whom he could then have a fight that would be almost as big as anything he could do with Pacquiao. Whatever fractional sum of money Mayweather would lose for fighting Khan instead of Pacquiao, he’d more than make up for in the fact that Khan, as good as he is, is nowhere near Pacquiao’s level.
(So, essentially, Mayweather would make a little less money fighting Khan than he would fighting his Filipino arch rival, but he would also avoid risking that dreaded loss that could ruin his spotless record.)
During a recent interview that Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer had with the Daily Star, we got a taste of what we’ll probably see a lot of in the coming weeks and months. As per the report:
Schaefer is confident Khan will be make a comfortable transition to a third weight division – if he gets revenge over Peterson.
He said: “Assuming all goes well and he wins against Peterson, he then moves up to welterweight.
“But I am not so sure if the first fight will be against Floyd, because at that weight it may not be the smartest thing to do.
“In a perfect world, I’d like Amir to have one fight at that weight before fighting Mayweather – but if that fight presents itself we would discuss it.
“Amir is better than what we saw in most of the last fight with Peterson. His skill level is superior to any fighter with the exception of Mayweather.
Notice that slight dig at the end? “His skill level is superior to any fighter with the exception of Mayweather” wasn’t an accidental slip.
You could make the case that Mayweather’s skill level is superior to Pacquiao’s if you wanted to, but there is no way any right-minded individual could argue that Khan’s skill level is superior to Pacquiao's. Heck, we don’t even know if it’s superior to Peterson’s at this point.
This is all part of a very smart strategy by Mayweather and his team. They realize that the Pacquiao fight isn’t happening in the foreseeable future, so the right move for them now is to reduce the Filipino champion’s stature, all the while elevating some young guy who Mayweather will eventually be able to beat.
It’s a very good plan. We’ll see how well it works out long-term.