Amir Khan will realise his Middle-Eastern dream this Fridaywhen he takes on Australian Billy Dib in Jeddah.
Khan has long spoken of his to desire have a headline a fightin the middle-east, with Dubai previously mooted as a potential location and at one point, though unofficially, was even announced as the location for a fight with Manny Pacquiao, which failed to come to fruition.
When the event was announced, it was out of the blue, but when analysed, it is no surprise. Because of the riches on offerin middle-eastern locations such as Saudi, Dubai, Qatar, Khan’s Pakistani heritage and also his superstar status, such an event was always going to be something that made sense for Amir fiscally. With Callum Smith winning the Super Series at the King Abdullah Stadium in Jeddah in the first-ever professional boxing match there, it was clear there was more to come, and Khan will follow suit with his fight against Dib. However, there is a significant problem with the fight; it‘s not a fight at all, it is an exhibition, albeit a big money exhibition.
It’s a big money exhibition in the way same way Mayweather vs McGregor and Mayweather vs Nasukawa were exhibitions. It is a fight, not anyone wants to see, and even the most militant of Khan fanboys cannot call it a reasonable and competitive match up, in fact, the contest with Khan and last-minute stand-in Dib is painfully uncompetitive.
Khan’s original opponent, 11-3-2 Neeraj Goyat, was even more discreditable than Dib, given the fact Khan is a former unified world champion who has fought pound for pound stars such as Maidana, Garcia, Canelo and Crawford, whereasGoyat has no credible wins and has not fought anyone of note. The two should never have been scheduled to be in the same ring as each other, let alone compete.
Frankly, Goyat was only chosen as the opponent because of his Indian nationality, essential for the Pakistan vs Indian narrative on which fight was to sold to its primary Middle-Eastern audience. This narrative and the sizeable money that comes with the event even led to the WBC throwing yet another new title, the ‘Pearl’ belt on the line for the winner. This decision served only to confirm the WBC’s credibility further as a governing body is fast dwindling, given their previous ridiculous creation of the ‘Money Belt’ for Mayweather vs McGregor, and their recent creation of ‘Franchise’ champions, whatever the hell that means.
When Goyat sadly pulled out from the fight due to a car accident, from which I hope he makes a full recovery, Dib stepped in, and thankfully the ridiculous ‘Pearl’ belt was taken off the line and replaced with the WBC’s ‘International’ belt. Dib as a former IBF Featherweight World Champion, is a more legitimate contender that Goyat, though not by much given the fact his last fight, almost two years ago, was fought two weights lower at lightweight. His previous fight saw him comprehensively beaten by Tevin Farmer at Super Featherweight for the vacant IBF belt. Like Goyat, Dib has no business being in the same ring as Khan and was chosen to stand-in as someone Khan should beat with relative ease. Additionally, the fight is easier sold by the fact Dib himself has Middle-Eastern links from his Lebanese background, and because of the fact he is relatively well known to boxing fans.I would imagine the only reason he is coming back is for the one-off last huge pay day he will undoubtedly be receiving for the event.
I feel it is essential at this point to clarify I am not a hater of Khan, just a hater of this particular event; I do really like Khan. He has fought some brilliant fighters and barring his last fight, has always come off incredibly brave and passionate. However, he is not the fighter he was. He had a life and death fight with Samuel Vargas, someone he should have despatched efficiently, and he was abysmal against Crawford, which is a little easier to forgive.
Although Khan has always had his vulnerabilities, he is not the fighter he was; fortunately, this is not a fight in which we will see him tested. It’s a fight he will win easily and look useful to the more casual newer breed of boxing fan in the middle–east, earning an absolute fortune in the meantime.Nothing more.
That said, Boxing is a tough sport, and I would not begrudge any fighter making a lot of money, especially someone who is as charitable and who has given as much to the game as Amir Khan, so I wish him good luck.
As a fan, I hope this is a warm-up fight for a final, big money fight against the likes of Brook or Pacquaio before he retires and sets off into the sunset. I certainly hope we don’t have to see him partake in this kind of event again.
While the main event isn’t much cop, the undercard itself a lot more credible, with some decent local and fringe world level contenders fighting. Also, it features the return of Hughie Fury as he continues on his comeback trail towards world title contention, while Brit Prince Patel challenges for the lowly regarded IBO Bantamweight World title.
By Aaron Ludford for SimBoxx