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22nd Dec 2017

Promoter open to the idea of Amir Khan vs. Billy Joe Saunders

Not exactly the tune-up fight Khan wanted

Darragh Murphy

Amir Khan isn’t going to walk right into a world title fight but that doesn’t mean a potential clash with Billy Joe Saunders is completely off the table.

Khan hasn’t fought in 18 months, having most recently been knocked unconscious by Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez in one of the most brutal finishes of the decade, but he is eager to return to the ring in the first few months of 2018.

Fresh out of the I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! jungle, Khan admitted that he is targeting a comeback in March in the United Kingdom.

After such a long lay-off, the former unified light welterweight world champion suggested that he’d first fight a less threatening opponent before moving on to tougher opposition.

“I’m definitely fighting before Ramadan. That’s the first move we’re going to do,” Khan told Ring IQ TV in Dubai.

“I’m taking a tune-up fight next because obviously I’ve not fought so hopefully get that tune up fight out of the way and go back to a big fight.”

Warm-up bouts are all well and good but who’s to say that Khan wouldn’t be tempted to jump right back in at the deep end for a big-money fight opposite WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders?

Saunders only recently defended his title with a masterclass in Canada over David Lemieux but the crafty Brit will be forced to wait for Gennady Golovkin vs. ‘Canelo’ II to take place before he can think about that unification option.

Saunders will remain hopeful of a big name to face off with in the interim and, love him or hate him, you can’t deny that Khan is one of the more high profile fighters who will be available to fight in spring.

Promoter Frank Warren told Boxing News Online that he would make Saunders vs. Khan “in a heartbeat” but noted that “it couldn’t be for the title though because he’d have to go get a win.”

The unanimous decision victory over Lemieux represented Saunders’ best performance to date as he toyed with the aggressive challenger throughout and left the Canadian swinging at air at stages.

The undefeated Saunders isn’t keen to rest on his laurels, however, and wants to stay busier in 2018 than he has been in years gone by.

“He’ll be out until April/May,” Warren said of Saunders. “I’d love a really big fight for him but those two guys, it’s a nuisance that we can’t get to them. That bad decision [when Golovkin and Canelo drew] didn’t help. They’d probably have made the rematch anyway.”