It’s been known that Amir Khan would be returning to the ring on the 21st of April 2018, at the Echo Arena, Liverpool, England. He announced his return and that he had signed a fight deal with the UK’s No.1 promoter Eddie Hearn, of Matchroom Boxing.
Today his opponent was revealed, Canadian Phil Lo Greco. Khan (31-4, 19 KOs) has been out-of-the-ring for almost two years, since a brutal KO loss to Canelo Alvarez in Las Vegas. The fight with Canelo was in the middleweight division. Against Lo Greco, we will see Khan return to his more natural welterweight limit. For 31-year-old Khan, this is the last roll of the dice and could lead to an all-British clash with arch-rival Kell Brook.
Two years out is a long time in boxing. Khan hasn’t had it smooth outside the ring, with an on-off relationship with his wife. Infamous Twitter spats with other high-profile boxers have kept him newsworthy for the wrong reasons. He’s spent time in the Australian outback, on the mainstream TV show “I’m a celebrity…Get me out of here”. Being on the show, in 2017, will have once again raised his profile. It did the same for David Haye, who took part in 2012. Smart business by Eddie Hean, on signing Khan, after the profile boost. The show is available free in every home, in the UK, and has a primetime slot, so a chance to bring in the casual fans to boxing.
‘King’ Khan held WBA & IBF belts at super-lightweight, beating quality opposition in Andriy Kotelnik, Paul Malignaggi, Marcos Maidana and Zab Judah. He then suffered back-to-back defeats to Lamont Peterson and Danny Garcia. The Peterson fight was a close loss via split decision. Against Garcia, Khan suffered a bad KO as he hit the deck a few times. In 2013, the Brit moved up to the 147lb division and had success beating Luis Collazo, Devon Alexander & Chris Algieri. All respectable wins. Then the fateful ‘KO of the year’ style defeat to the bigger, stronger Canelo. Nobody had really given Amir a chance and it was only his wallet that won.
In Phil Lo Greco, 33, he’s facing a man who has lost three of his last six. Sounds bad but, in fairness, two of the defeats were to top welterweights, in Shawn Porter and Errol Spence Jr.
Lo Greco took Porter the full ten rounds but was battered inside three rounds by the special talent Errol Spence. He’s had three fights since, beating journeymen Pablo Munguia and Jesus Gurrola, but dropping a decision to Joseph Elegele. ‘The Italian Sensation’ has fought in Europe a few times (Italy, Hungary, Germany) though this will be his first fight in the UK.
Amir Khan holds all the advantages—greater speed, technique and punch variety. Lo Greco (28-3, 15 KOs) is fairly easy to hit but strong. He comes forward looking to put his opponents under pressure. He tends to only throw single shots, so I expect Khan to box at range and pick him off. Khan hasn’t shown much power at this weight but is always vulnerable to getting caught. He’s been off for two years, so this will be a good test to see where he’s at.
I’ve got Khan winning on points though this is a fantastic opportunity for Lo Greco, to ruin the best-laid plans. Stranger things have happened in boxing.