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Khan-Algieri bout great opportunity for both fighters

Amir Khan, left, and Chris Algieri are set

Amir Khan, left, and Chris Algieri are set to fight on May 29 at Barclays Center. Credit: AP / John Locher; Newsday / Jeffrey Bassinger

Boxing's crosscurrents have brought together Amir Khan and Long Island's Chris Algieri at a unique confluence in their careers May 29 at Barclays Center. Algieri was the last boxer to face Manny Pacquiao before his loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr. on Saturday night, and Khan likely is next in line to fight Mayweather if he can get past Algieri.

No titles are in play in their 12-round welterweight bout, but the stakes couldn't be higher for Khan (30-3, 19 KOs) or Algieri (20-1, 8 KOs), who is coming off his first loss and could vault his career to another level with an upset victory.

"Winning this fight is everything to me," Khan said Wednesday during an international conference call. "I'm not looking past the Chris Algieri fight. Stylistically, he's very dangerous. I've looked past fights, and I've made mistakes. That's going to put me right back where I don't want to be. I know there are bigger fights out there like Mayweather, but this is a test for me to stay focused and win this fight and then go from there."

Echoing those sentiments, Algieri said, "I'm coming off my first loss as a professional and watching Pacquiao and Mayweather fight this past weekend has stirred me even more, made me that much more of a hungry fighter. You've got a guy who is going to be in great shape and is very hungry for the win.

"When you keep winning, good things happen. I'm in the exact same place. This is a huge fight and a huge opportunity."

Of course it was Algieri's upset of Ruslan Provodnikov for the WBO super-lightweight title last June at Barclays that thrust the Greenlawn native into the fight against Pacquiao, which gave him the credibility to come back against a former champion such as Khan.

The fight is part of the new Premier Boxing Champions series that has been developed by Al Haymon, who is Mayweather's manager and chief financial adviser. Khan left Golden Boy Promotions to sign with Haymon. Immediately after Mayweather's win over Pacquiao, Mayweather promoter Leonard Ellerbe mentioned Khan as a potential opponent for Mayweather's next scheduled fight in September, which might be his last.

Asked if Haymon told him what is necessary to land the big one, Khan said, "Mayweather is the best fighter in the world, and obviously you have to put on great performances to get that fight. You have to shine, really . . . I can't take a beating. I have to work very hard and be very focused. Obviously, it's what I've always wanted."

Khan attended Mayweather-Pacquiao in Las Vegas while Algieri watched the pay-per-view telecast from his camp in Florida with new trainer John David Jackson. Khan credited Mayweather for his win but said he saw signs of vulnerability at age 38.

"Obviously, you see his work rate dropping tremendously because of his age," Khan said. "One thing I've not seen before was, when he takes a good shot, he does panic. The only way to catch someone like him is with speed and explosiveness, which Manny had, but Manny I don't think used his explosiveness as much in the fight."

Asked if he saw anything different about Pacquiao, who reportedly underwent surgery Wednesday to repair a torn right rotator cuff, from their fight in Macau, Algieri said, "I didn't really see anything physically. I saw a little more mentally. He seemed more focused for my fight. He was very bubbly and smiley at the Mayweather weigh-in. It wasn't that way when we were in China. But you never know if that means anything."

If Khan defeats Algieri, there was question about whether a September fight date would be too close to Ramadan, the monthlong Muslim fasting period that begins in mid-June, to allow him to train properly.

"It is possible I could fight in September," Khan said. "Ramadan is a little bit earlier this year. It gives me enough time to get the training going. So, it can happen."


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