x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Amir Khan will fight in Dubai, but unlikely to be against Alexander

Hopes of fighting for world title in UAE this year appear dead in the water, but boxer insists Emirates attractive and largely untapped market, writes Omar Al Raisi.

IBF Welterweight champion Devon Alexander, left, said on Twitter he is awaiting Amir Khan to sign a contract to fight him, something the Briton denies. Ethan Miller, Scott Heavey / Getty Images
IBF Welterweight champion Devon Alexander, left, said on Twitter he is awaiting Amir Khan to sign a contract to fight him, something the Briton denies. Ethan Miller, Scott Heavey / Getty Images

Amir Khan's hopes of fighting for a world title in Dubai this year appear dead in the water, but the Pakistani-British boxer insists the UAE remains an attractive and largely untapped market.

Golden Boy Promotions represents both Khan and the American Devon Alexander, the IBF Welterweight champion, and the organisation's chief executive, Richard Schaefer, has been in Dubai for talks.

But it now seems more likely that the fight will be staged in New York or the UK.

"I am ready 100 per cent to fight Devon Alexander in Dubai, but it seems he and his team are coming up with excuses every other day and they have not agreed to the fight," Khan said. "I want to fight Devon either way. If he does not agree to fight in Dubai, then I will fight in America, or wherever he wants to fight."

Alexander apparently is baulking at the long journey from the US, as well as the expectation that Kahn would be the heavy favourite of any Dubai fight crowd.

"I do have a lot of fans in the Middle East and especially in the UAE," Khan said. "Maybe he does feel that everyone will be against him if we fight in Dubai. But I can assure it will be a fair fight, obviously. If it happens, it will be a global event."

Khan believes boxing needs to expand its global footprint, especially in Asia, using Manny Pacquiao's willingness to fight in Macau as an example.

"Manny chose to go to a new market in China, which is not a top destination for boxing, but it's a huge market and they want to build boxing in China, and I am trying to do the same build Dubai as a top boxing destination," Kahn said.

"They are doing big things in Dubai and UAE and it will be beneficial for all … if we fight in Dubai."

Khan is frustrated that Alexander seems to be in position to decide where the fight, tentatively set for December 7, will be held.

"He has a world title, but I had two and I lost both of them, one against Lamont Peterson, who was drugged and he is a cheat, one against Danny Garcia, who was lucky and caught me off guard," he said.

"I have offered Garcia to fight me multiple times, but he knows he was lucky and he doesn't want a re-fight.

"I am not going to wait around for him. I am stepping up to the welterweight division and looking to the future for big fights."

Alexander on Twitter claimed he had signed a contract for a bout, and that Khan is the one resisting a fight. Alexander said on Twitter: " @AmirKingKhan lets get it on !! Send that contract !! I'm ready !!"

Khan said "there is no contract" and said it is Alexander's camp which "keeps dragging it out".

Khan is no longer in the "best-fighter, pound-for-pound" discussion, but he believes he is a far bigger attraction than Alexander, and wants to be paid accordingly. He seeks a 60-40 financial split in his favour, though he conceded he would settle for a 50-50 split.

"But there is no way I will agree to fight Devon for any less than that, absolutely not," he said.

"I am the one who will sell tickets and pull a crowd. It's me who has the TV deal from Showtime, not Devon, so there is no question in that case when it comes to money."

Khan conceded the British boxer Kell Brook is trying to entice him into a fight, but he dismissed that notion by saying: "Brook is not even in my league; this fight will not happen. All he is looking for is a big purse.

"All he has done in his career is dodge big fighters. He refused to fight every big fighter who was put on the table, and he has never won any world titles."

He added: "Nobody knows Brook outside the UK. If he wants to fight me, he will have to fight and beat the big fighters, win world titles and then I might give it a thought.

"But no way that fight is happening."

He still would like to meet the unbeaten American Floyd Mayweather Jr.

"I have never said no to a big fight when it was put on the table," Khan said.

"We are talking big money, with both our TV deals and huge fan bases around the world.

"I think the world wants to see this fight happen, just like they want a Mayweather and Pacquiao fight to happen."

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