Amir Khan fears “boxing will be over” if Conor McGregor defeats Floyd Mayweather in Las Vegas on Saturday night.
The welterweight differs from the many who consider the crossover match-up bad for the sport, believing it has given it a timely boost, and has also predicted Mayweather will “walk through” his opponent.
Khan is, however, wary of the wider consequences should McGregor secure what would be the unlikeliest of wins on his professional boxing debut against the fighter widely regarded as the finest of the modern era.
His concern is that so may of boxing’s followers will thereafter be seduced by MMA, and that McGregor’s and the UFC’s present popularity also serves as “a warning” to the sport he has dedicated his life to.
“If McGregor wins, boxing is over,” the 30-year-old said. “Disaster, big time.
“It should be a warning to boxing. There are a lot of titles out there.
“It gives more people an opportunity for a title. (But in) UFC there is only one champion which makes it harder for them. The way boxing is going is fine. (But) it is a warning that you must step your game up.
“I can’t see (McGregor) winning though. To have this fight will take whichever sport to a different level.
“It is going to be a good fight for the first couple of rounds but I see Mayweather getting a stoppage. This could be Mayweather’s chance to finish his career on a high against a big name.
“He’s fighting a guy who hasn’t had a fight: people are forgetting that. They know his MMA career is good. It will be exciting for a couple of rounds then Mayweather will walk through him.
“It’s a good fight, it’s a money fight. It’s going to make a lot of money and boxing is a business.”
The likelihood remains that Saturday’s fight will prove so uncompetitive in Mayweather’s favour that interest in other potential crossover match-ups will cease. Khan’s own long-term pursuit of a fight with the American ended in frustration, but he is positive about McGregor facing him instead.
“It’s good for boxing,” he said. “Boxing needs this. The pay-per-view numbers have been s*** recently. Boxing needs a fight like this to get boxing back up again.
“The winner of this will give the fans an idea of which sport to follow and which sport is better. If Mayweather wins then boxing goes on a high, if McGregor wins then people will follow MMA.
“If (McGregor) wins it’s different. It moves the goalposts. You’d take (a fight against him) because it’s a big name. To do a fight like that in the UK would be massive; I’d even go to Ireland and fight him there.
“You might beat him in the ring but walking out of the ring might be a bit of an issue. Let’s see how he does.
“People are thinking too far ahead. I was speaking to (McGregor’s former sparring partner) Paulie Malignaggi and he said he is really bad at boxing but he does throw some good shots in MMA. Some people only do well when they have that adrenaline rush.”