After two years out of the ring, Amir Khan is finally back.
It has been a rough period for Khan since his last outing in May 2016 which saw him knocked out by Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez in Las Vegas. The Briton has seen personal issues go public and had surgery on a hand problem that blighted him throughout his career, an injury which contributed to him sitting out the entirety of last year.
However, after a successful stint in the Australian jungle during British reality television show 'I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here', Khan now has the profile and the motivation to return to the ring which is scheduled for April 21 -- with Eddie Hearn and Matchroom a surprise choice to promote him.
"He is very excited," Hearn told ESPN about Khan's impending return. "What came across in the meetings is his excitement and desire to fight again.
"He needs to come back with a very creditable fight. They are [potential opponents for a comeback fight] all good, solid international welterweights that will be dangerous after two years [out of action].
"Amir wants to come in at a good level. He does not want to fight someone with no credibility."
Khan, who took the WBA light-welterweight title in 2009 before added the IBF version in 2011, also revealed that winning a third world title would be his aim for this year.
However, it's unrealistic to expect him to be able to force himself into a position to take on the likes of Errol Spence, Jeff Horn or Keith Thurman with just two 'warm-up' fights under his belt.
Sublime hand speed, an decent ring craft combined with an extremely vulnerable chin make his fights fascinating to watch. He can overwhelm opponents himself, but can just as easily be floored off one punch. He's a fun fighter to watch.
But he needs to remain sensible, and look to alter the way he fights at this stage in career, perhaps taking inspiration from Thurman. Like Khan, he too started off his career as an aggressive puncher but has since developed his style over time. Knockouts were common in Thurman's career early on, and while his record suggest the power's faded, his boxing know-how has increased. We need to see some of that in Khan's performances.
The defeat to Canelo hinted Khan's boxing IQ still does has the odd flaw. He can out-manoeuvre many a welterweight and has the power to harm plenty of boxers in the division, but he needs to learn how to adapt and pick his moments far better. Against someone of Canelo's class, as we saw, one slight lapse of concentration can be devastating.
It is this sloppiness which has cost Khan throughout his career. Two years out of the ring is only going to have made that issue worse, and at 31 years of age, it is going to be a difficult problem for him to solve now. He needs the right people around him, and crucially, no distractions outside of the ring.
However, that is not to say Khan is not capable of taking another world title -- he showed that against Canelo. His speed and movement caused the then-WBC middleweight champion problems -- and to do that is some achievement. He was ahead 48-47 on ESPN's scorecard and looked reasonably at ease with Canelo before he was knocked out. If Khan can fine tune certain areas of his arsenal and add discipline to his attributes, then he will truly be back in business.
A suggested route would be to go for a reasonably difficult tune-up. Hearn is right to rule out Broner as the comeback opponent, but after coming through his return, Broner, or someone of the American's calibre would be a perfect tester to see where Khan really is.
And, after that, he simply needs to fight Kell Brook which remains the match-up the British public crave. Regardless whether the fight is at 147lbs or up at 154lbs [where Brook currently is plying his trade], it is perhaps one of the only fights that would make the champions stand up and take notice.
He's entering the final stage of his and while he still have things to prove, there remains a long road ahead of him too if he is to reach his goal of becoming world champion again. There are no shortcuts to a world title, but taking Brook apart would be the ultimate way to show he is truly back.
Come through a fight with Brook in late 2018, and Khan can start to look towards titles in whichever division he settles into. The stint on reality television has sent Khan's profile soaring but he still needs to win back credibility in the boxing world. That schedule will allow him to redevelop the boxing fundamentals that may have been lost in the two years away. But at the same time, he cannot go too hard too quickly. He will be exposed if he rushes through opponents.
Khan is a very capable boxer. He can take another world title. He just needs to be smart about it.