The main support bout on the May 3rd "The Moment" promotion is a clash between Amir Khan, a former champ at 140 pounds, and Luis Collazo, a former champ at 147 pounds. A title will be up for grabs, but the stakes, truly, are so much larger than a piece of shiny metal affixed onto a leather strap.
Stacks of cash, piles suited for a vault -- not a mere safe -- will be on the table when Khan, the Pakistani-Brit who spends his time in England, and California and visits with family on Staten Island now and again, takes on spirit-warrior Collazo. Collazo who is on a high after seeing the light and undergoing a transformation of the soul the day before his 32nd birthday.
I checked in with Khan, a 27-year-old hitter is trying his luck at 147 pounds for the first time. If he gets past Collazo, he'll likely have the inside track on Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s September date. I wondered about his level of confidence heading into the scrap, and how highly he rated Collazo. I put it to him straight, in a phoner: Is Luis Collazo on your level?
"He's up there with good fighters," Kahn answered. "He's been in with very good boxers, like Shane Mosley, and Ricky Hatton, but he mostly falls short. His last fight was against Victor Ortiz, and he knocked him out, so that gave him confidence."
I take that as a qualified yes.
But if you're thinking that there is a glimmer of a chance that Khan is looking past Collazo, I'd advise you to ditch that notion. Collazo is a clever lefty who moves well, with his feet, his head and torso. He's a rock-solid defender who sets traps and possesses enough power to hurt a foe when one of those traps get sprung. Khan -- I do believe -- has his head screwed on straight on the stakes at hand May 3.
"I have to win, and not just win, but in spectacular fashion," he told me. "I'm definitely not looking past Collazo. He's a good fighter. And it's a big fight for us."
I admit, I always enjoy talking to Khan. He handles even pointed queries like a pro, doesn't get defensive or nonsensical in trying to perpetuate some illogical counterpoint. Like when I asked him about his chin, which can be described as iffy. The man has been stopped in two of his three losses, and was dropped in round four of his last bout, against Julio Diaz in April 2013. OK, maybe the negative nellies focus on that part of his body too much, but still, will chin be an issue versus Collazo?
"Making 140, I killed myself to make the weight," Khan said. "I've been working with big guys, 165, 170 pounds, fighting with them," and not getting buzzed, he said. His resilience should improve at 147, he said. I also like the way Khan incorporates the chin issue into his hype strategy. "Every fight of mine is an exciting fight," he said.
Khan did acknowledge he's still a bit irked at Mayweather, who dithered for months on who he'd fight in this May date. "I'm a little pissed still," Khan admitted. "You'd have to be. The way we spoke, and contracts went back and forth and were signed ... But I'm not looking past Collazo at Floyd." He also makes it clear he's not dissing Marcos Maidana, who he said earned the Floyd fight with a win over Mayweather-lite, Adrien Broner.
Floyd has been talking for a while now about conquering other territory, heading to the UK. You could picture, if Khan handles Collazo in flashy fashion, and Floyd downs heavy underdog Maidana, a date at Wembley Stadium in England, with Floyd playing the bad guy act to the hilt. Can Khan picture the same? "It could definitely happen," he told me. "It's a superfight. But I have to look good against Collazo"
Readers, talk to me. Could Collazo upset that Wembley dream? Could the rust factor mess with Khan, keep him from getting a rhythm against a quite-clever pugilist? Or will Khan's flashy hand speed enable him to make Collazo look a step behind?