LAS VEGAS – Amir Khan is looking at a daily double of unbeaten fighters.
If the super lightweight title holder defeats Danny Garcia on Saturday in their World Boxing Association-World Boxing Council unification bout at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, he's likely going to meet an opponent with another perfect record.
That would be a fighter you may have heard a bit about – a guy by the name of Mayweather.
Barring a miracle that would help to arrange a fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao, Mayweather's next opponent will likely be Khan, assuming he defeats Garcia on Saturday.
It's why Khan says the Garcia match "is a big, big fight for me," even though he's a 5-1 favorite and Garcia is primarily known for his father's outlandish boasts and frequently offensive trash talk.
Angel Garcia told reporters "Pakistanis can't fight," – Khan is British, of Pakistani descent – and said God punished Khan in 2008 when he was knocked out by Breidis Prescott.
Khan hasn't been pleased having to listen to Angel Garcia's zany comments, but he knows he'll get the upper hand simply by convincingly winning the fight.
And at Thursday's news conference, Khan did something he rarely does and predicted a knockout. And after predicting the knockout, he turned and spoke directly to Angel Garcia.
"I will knock Danny Garcia out," Khan said. "I will take the world titles home. I know Danny didn't train as hard as me. I promise I will knock him out. That is the only way. "I cannot wait until after the fight when we stand here and I have knocked your son out. He is going to see what a Pakistani British fighter can do. I cannot wait to get in there."
Danny Garcia has left the trash talk up to his father, who has made a career of making outrageous boasts. It can put pressure on his son, but it's happened so much that it's just part of the job for Danny.
He sloughed off any concern that his father's words will make his job that much more difficult.
"My Dad talked [expletive] 23 times, and I backed it up 23 times," Danny Garcia said. "I am 23-0. Come Saturday, he will have talked [expletive] 24 times and I am going to back it up for the 24th time."
An issue for Khan, though, is whether he can keep his composure and stick to his game plan, which should be to keep a jab in Garcia's face and counter his wild shots.
Khan (26-2, 18 KOs) has fought a far better level of opposition and kept his cool in even the toughest spots, but Angel Garcia has made things more personal than anyone had previously.
There is clearly pressure on Khan, who not only needs to win but to do so in impressive fashion to guarantee the Mayweather fight.
Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer concedes the pressure is on Khan, but he is convinced Khan is up to the task.
"Amir is too much of a pro to let that get to him," Schaefer said. " … He doesn't appreciate hearing these things, but I don't think you'll see him be reckless. I think he has some additional fire now. The Amir Khan I saw at the press conference [Thursday] was different than I've ever seen before. He's got great motivation."
A bout with Mayweather would be life-changing for him. Khan has been pushed relentlessly by Golden Boy and HBO over the last few years, but he still hasn't crossed over and become a huge ticket seller in the U.S.
His fight with Lamont Peterson, which he lost in controversial fashion in December, did a solid 3.62 rating and drew 1.56 million fans on HBO, indicating that there is an audience for him.
Schaefer said Khan is the leader of the third tier of draws in boxing. Mayweather and Pacquiao are alone at the top, Schaefer said, followed by Canelo Alvarez and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. at the next level.
"It's a pretty good group to be around," Schaefer said. "But what he needs is that one signature win, and you get that by beating a Mayweather. If he beats Mayweather, all of a sudden, overnight, everyone is talking about Amir Khan."
A potential Mayweather fight could be coming at the right time for Khan, who is only 25 despite competing at the highest level for several years.
Freddie Roach, his Hall of Fame trainer, said Khan is maturing into the fighter he thought he could become.
"He's getting there, but I don't think he's quite reached his peak yet," Roach said. "We're working on settling him down a lot more, getting him where he's not jumping around and bouncing around so much and where he's sitting down on his punches. I think you'll see a more mature Amir in this fight."
He'd better be ready, because if he's looking at fighting Mayweather next, he's going to need everything he's got, and more, to win.
Khan, though, isn't worried. He wouldn't speak directly of Mayweather other than to say he's looking to take the next step.
A win over Garcia would be a massive step if only because it would be what vaults him into the biggest fight of 2013.
"Those are the kinds of fights I want," Khan said. "I've always looked for those kinds of fights and I always will. I like to challenge myself and give my fans what they're looking for."
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