LAS VEGAS -- One year after pulling out of a fight with Devon Alexander in order to preserve himself for a shot a Floyd Mayweather Jr., Amir Khan might have properly stamped his ticket to the big dance.
Khan was too quick and too strong from the opening bell in outclassing Alexander by unanimous decision (119-109, 118-110, 120-108) on Saturday in front of 7,768 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. ESPN.com also scored the bout 120-108 for Khan (29-3, 19 KOs).
The 28-year-old native of England looked spectacular in his second fight as a full-fledged welterweight by controlling distance with his jab and temporarily putting aside the chin issues that have haunted his career.
"I just fought a three-time world champion and proved myself to be a force at 147 pounds," Khan said. "I think I'm getting better with age. I'm better than I was at 26 and now just starting to hit my peak at 28. I work very hard and put on one of my best performances."
Alexander (26-3, 14 KOs) followed Khan around the ring throughout but was unable to land more than one punch at a time as Khan met him in his tracks with hard combinations.
The victory puts Khan in prime position to land a spring meeting with Mayweather, provided a long-awaited superfight with Manny Pacquiao is unable to be made.
"I feel like I proved to everyone that I deserved that [Mayweather] fight," Khan said.
So did his promoter, Golden Boy founder Oscar De La Hoya.
"So now I know why Mayweather doesn't want to fight him," De La Hoya said. "He was brilliant. I wouldn't have fought him. He is hitting his peak just now. He looked incredible.
"I have a feeling Mayweather will think twice now of fighting Amir Khan. He showed focus, speed, angles, balance; he fought almost a perfect fight with a southpaw, which is very complicated."
Khan not only looked stronger at 147 pounds, with a wide frame to carry the extra muscle, but also showed continued improvement in his third fight with trainer Virgil Hunter.
"Devon gave me a great fight but I worked my jab and I listened to what Virgil Hunter taught me," Khan said. "I believe I have the best and quickest jab in the sport."
Hunter agreed, saying, "I thought his performance was great. He had a 9.9 out of 10. He would venture off the game plan and come right back. This fight proves he can step up and move up to the next level of competition."
Alexander, who lost his welterweight title to Shawn Porter last December, never committed to his jab and found minimal success looking to load up with one big counter shot. Each time he connected with a meaningful punch, Khan met him in his tracks with heavy and quick combinations.
Khan outlanded Alexander 243 to 91, according to CompuBox, and connected on 43 percentage of his shots, compared to just 20 percent for Alexander.
"I know I could have done more," Alexander said. "He was fast, but I felt my speed troubled him, too. It just wasn't possible to catch him. Even when he was punching wild, I just couldn't get my shots off and catch him.
"He did run a lot but that's no excuse. We worked on catching and shooting the jab, but I wasn't able to execute it. I just couldn't get it done. It's a disappointment."
Alexander finally stepped on the gas pedal to open Round 12 but was routinely countered by Khan's left hands. He appeared to slightly wobble Khan with a left cross late in the round, but Khan steadied himself to cancel out Alexander's attempt at late heroics.
Asked if securing the Mayweather fight was his No. 1 priority for Khan, De La Hoya responded, "Oh boy, please. Please." He even mentioned the possibility of bringing the fight to England, where Khan is a massive draw.
"Boy, that would be like they say in the UK, massive," De La Hoya said. "You can see the determination in Khan's eyes. He wants Mayweather. You can see it in his work ethic and in this fight."
Wishful thinking is one thing, but Mayweather, 37, the sport's biggest draw and pound-for-pound king, will clearly have the final say.
Khan, who drew criticism for pulling out of a title fight with Alexander last December only to be left at the altar by Mayweather, takes solace in knowing the volume of the statement made by his performance.
"I now believe I have earned the Mayweather fight for next year," Khan said.