Amir Khan has won a world title at 140 pounds and gained international fame, but former 175-pound champion Antonio Tarver says there is pressure on the talented Brit to look sensational when he takes on Chris Algieri on Friday night.
“If Amir Khan’s the next big thing, then knock somebody’s ass out,” says Tarver, who will analyze the action from ringside at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, on Spike TV at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.
“Amir Khan is already a star in the U.K., but he has to put the world on notice that he’s the next threat to Floyd Mayweather. It's time for him to have an outstanding performance that the whole world will be talking about the next day.”
Khan (30-3, 19 KOs) first earned worldwide acclaim when he won a silver medal at the 2004 Olympics at the age of 17, becoming the youngest British Olympic boxing medalist in history. He’ll be fighting in New York for the first time since making his U.S. debut with an 11th-round knockout of Paulie Malignaggi in May 2010.
“Khan needs to make another statement in America and show Chris Algieri that he’s not in the same league,” Tarver says. “A convincing win puts him on the cusp of super stardom for a Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao type of fight.”
Khan scored three knockdowns in his 147-pound debut against Luis Collazo last May, but has endured questions about his own chin since September 2008, when he was stopped in 54 seconds by Breidis Prescott.
Khan is entering his fifth fight under trainer Virgil Hunter, whom he began working with after being stopped in the fourth round by Danny Garcia in July 2012. Khan also was dropped in the fourth by Julio Diaz in April 2013 before coming back to win a unanimous decision in his second bout with Hunter.
“Khan has proven he can come back from adversity, but he hasn’t been hit by a serious puncher in this weight class,” Tarver says. “Chris Algieri is not a puncher, but once that chin gets tested, then it’s always suspect. If you get cracked on the chin by a punch you don’t see, it can have the same effect.”
Algieri (20-1, 8 KOs) was floored twice in the first round by Ruslan Provodnikov in June before rallying to win a 140-pound world title by split decision at Barclays Center. He then lost a split decision in November in a 144-pound catchweight fight against Manny Pacquiao, who scored six knockdowns in the bout.
“Algieri needs another breakout performance like the one against Provodnikov,” Tarver said. “This is a great comeback for Algieri against a guy at the top of his game in the [147-pound] division. With Pacquiao, he will have fought two of the three best in the weight class. It’s a great shot for another major upset.”