Amir Khan is calling for Floyd Mayweather Jr.
The 30-year-old former world junior welterweight champion made his case for a shot against boxing’s pound-for-pound king after picking apart Luis Collazo and winning his debut at welterweight by unanimous decision Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden.
Khan (29-3) showed off his improved boxing skills in the 12-round fight, which headlined the Mayweather-Marcos Maidana undercard. When it was over, judges Cathy Leonard (119-104), Adalaide Byrd (119-104) and Jerry Roth (117-106) had no doubt about the winner.
“I think I was impressive enough to earn a fight with Floyd,” Khan said. “Styles make fights, and I think my style would give Floyd problems.”
Khan seemed comfortable fighting at 147 pounds after moving up from 140. He started quickly and used improved footwork and defense to control Collazo.
In the fourth round, Khan used a quick three-punch combination to send Collazo down 28 seconds into the round. Collazo didn’t appear hurt and took the fight to Khan the rest of the round, landing a nice straight left jab that snapped Khan’s head back.
Collazo (35-6) tried to bait Khan into being careless by leaving his hands at his side. But Khan continued to fight intelligently and patiently, waiting for his opportunities to strike.
“We spent a long time together, me and (trainer) Virgil Hunter,” Khan said. “I put together some good things. But (Collazo) is very awkward and was hard to hit.”
In the eighth round, Collazo was penalized a point by referee Vic Drakulich after a low blow. Moments later, Drakulich dinged Khan a point for excessive holding. It seemed to energize Collazo, and he showed newfound resolve in taking the fight to Khan.
But Khan rallied, dropping Collazo twice in a 30-second span, first with a short left with 1:10 to go, then with a right-left combination 20 seconds later. Collazo barely survived the round.
“I had to hang in there; that’s how we do it,” Collazo said. “I hurt my left knuckle during the fight, and his style was difficult. He was grabbing me a lot, and that made it difficult.”
In other undercard fights, Las Vegas super middleweight J’Leon Love survived a fifth-round knockdown to score a 10-round unanimous decision over Marco Antonio Periban.
Judge Lisa Giampa had Love ahead 97-93, Glenn Trowbridge scored it 96-93, and David Sutherland had it 95-93.
Love (18-0) appeared in big trouble in the fifth, as Periban (20-2-1) flailed away and almost forced referee Jay Nady to stop the fight. Instead, Nady separated the fighters, and Periban eventually sent Love to one knee, constituting a knockdown. He continued to punch at Love while he was on the canvas, and Nady shoved Periban off Love, sending Periban to the canvas, too.
But Love rallied in the sixth round, nailing Periban with solid combinations to the head and body and opening a cut over Periban’s left eye. Love had bloodied Periban’s nose early in the fight, and in the late rounds, Love was the dominant fighter.
“He was a tough dude,” Love said. “He hit me with a good shot in the fifth round, and it was smart to take that knee because he can be very aggressive.”
Adrien Broner’s venture back to 140 pounds proved to be successful, as the former welterweight world champion won a 10-round unanimous decision over Carlos Molina. Levi Martinez scored the fight 100-90, Ricardo Ocasio 99-91 and Patricia Morse-Jarman 98-92.
Broner (28-1) used superior hand speed to beat Molina (17-2-1) to the punch. The fight was Molina’s first since December 2012.
“It was a sparring match on TV,” Broner said. “This is the right weight for me. But I think 147 is the right weight, too. I don’t care who they put in front of me. But I want to fight (Manny) Pacquiao before he leaves.”
Contact reporter Steve Carp at email@example.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.