Khan says huge image a Grand inducement for Mayweather

Amir Khan training ahead of his middleweight title fight with Saul "Canelo" Alvarez. The British boxer has relished stepping into the limelight that was reserved for Floyd Mayweather before the American hung up his gloves.
Amir Khan training ahead of his middleweight title fight with Saul "Canelo" Alvarez. The British boxer has relished stepping into the limelight that was reserved for Floyd Mayweather before the American hung up his gloves.PHOTO: REUTERS

LAS VEGAS • Amir Khan believes that the sight of his face adorning the side of the MGM Grand on the Las Vegas Strip this week has been upsetting Floyd Mayweather, who has begun to drop hints about a comeback.

The Briton challenges Saul "Canelo" Alvarez for the World Boxing Council middleweight title on Saturday on the Cinco de Mayo weekend that was traditionally reserved for Mayweather's biggest bouts.

Five times in the past nine years, the American boxed in Las Vegas on this weekend, including his match with Manny Pacquiao last year and Oscar de la Hoya in 2007.

But with Mayweather retired, there is now a 40-storey picture of Khan, 29, and Alvarez, 25, where Mayweather's image used to be.

Moreover, this is the first boxing match to take place at the brand new T-Mobile Arena just behind The Strip, for which the American carried out the ground-breaking ceremony two years ago.

Last weekend, Mayweather, 39, was happy to play up talk of a comeback as soon as September, with Danny Garcia, a former winner over Khan, who now holds the WBC welterweight title, rumoured as a likely opponent.

"I think he is a little bit bitter," Khan said.

"He has probably seen the big poster at the MGM and now it is me and Canelo. I remember him saying a long time ago that he wanted to be the first guy to fight at this new arena."

Few people expected Mayweather not to box again when he announced his retirement after beating Andre Berto last September.

His unbeaten record stands at 49 bouts, level with Rocky Marciano as the world champion with the longest unbeaten record.

But the disappointing nature of his wins over Pacquiao and Berto means that there has not been the clamour for his return that he was expecting.

"Basically now people aren't talking about him and he is missing all this," Khan said.

"That is why he is saying these things now to try to get people talking about him again.

"I'm sure he is missing it. This used to be his day."

While he has boxed in Las Vegas many times now, this is by far the biggest bout of Khan's career, even if he comes in as an underdog for the first time.

"My dream was to fight in Vegas, to see my name up in lights and to see that big poster. This is even better than I expected," he said.

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 05, 2016, with the headline 'Khan says huge image a Grand inducement for Mayweather'. Print Edition | Subscribe