Phil Lo Greco: ‘Amir Khan is mentally weak. I am going to knock him out’
Canadian hitter Phil Lo Greco indelibly placed himself on fight fans’ radar screens, when he gave Amir Khan the business, at the Tuesday presser announcing Khan’s return to the squared circle, which comes April 21, at Echo Arena, in Liverpool.
Lo Greco, born in Sicily and now a Canadian resident (28-3, 15 knockouts), raised a few eyebrows when he got the gig to step in against the Pakistani-Brit Khan (31-4, 19 KOs), who was last seen getting dropped and stopped by THE RING Magazine middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez in May 2016.
Khan insists he’s got more to do in the squared circle but wanted to test his skills and glove up against a sub-superstar in this comeback scrap, with the aim being getting back on the winning track so he can restore the luster Canelo nicked off of him.
Lo Greco came to England unimpressed. He came to the press conference, presided by Matchroom Boxing’s Eddie Hearn — the promotional stud who had to do double duty as a bouncer — with a chip on his shoulder. The junior middleweight was not inclined to offer a boring-ass “I’d like to thank Amir Khan for the opportunity and promise to do my best to win on April 21,” which basically signals that the two fighters are engaged in a business arrangement and the underdog is acknowledging that losing is likely.
The presser started out gently enough but took a turn when Lo Greco, 4-3 in his last seven and coming in off a win against Jesus Gurrola last June, got a turn at the mic. The mic turned hot when the 33-year-old addressed Khan. Lo Greco told me on Wednesday that he had rehearsed in his head how he’d talk to Khan, but the full message was truncated when Khan snapped and threw a cup of water at his face.
Lo Greco showed himself to be a capital-C character when he first spoke. “Who the f**k is Phil Lo Greco?” he stated, mirroring the reaction of many fight fans who exclaimed, “Who dat?” when Khan unveiled his comeback foe. He showed a softer side, thanking God, and then a sage business side, when he thanked adviser Al Haymon and his right-hand man Sam Watson, for being in his corner.
Khan maybe lit Lo Greco’s fuse himself when he made a crack about Phil being puffy, and needing time to make weight. The Canuck showed his worth as a counterpuncher, as he mocked Khan right back, asking how his injured right hand is healing and making a masturbatory motion, making oblique reference to Khan’s spicy history in the realm of inadvertent amateur porn. Lo Greco explained that he’s been enjoying his role as host of “Culinary Fighter,” which has its own channel on Roku devices and will widen out distribution, going forward. So his weight crept up. He labeled Khan a “salesman” and then noted that, while he may have a double chin, Khan has “no chin.”
He kept throwing…This fight won’t be his biggest payday, not even close, labeling the Khans and Eddie Hearn as “cheap f**ks.”
It got spicier…
“After the Canelo fight, you went on a losing streak,” Lo Greco said. “Family, wife…”
The assembled media groaned and sensed this was all taking a turn. Khan took a sip of water, and then turned his Manson lamps at Lo Greco.
“And then you tweet to the heavyweight champion of the world (Anthony Joshua); what is wrong with you, mate? What is wrong? You go out and tweet to the heavyweight champion of the world that he can have your leftovers?”
Khan’s pop grinned, but Amir didn’t dig it. He grabbed his water cup, hurled its contents at Lo Greco’s face, leapt up and advanced toward the trash-talker. Hearn arose and put his large frame between the rivals. Some of the Khan posse took themselves too seriously and advanced at Team Lo Greco, while event security earned their per diem and tried to keep a riot from breaking out.
“Why you gettin’ personal?” someone shouted from the mob, which milled about and chattered while unamiable energy hung in the air.
Lo Greco tried to explain where he was going with that topic but Team Khan wouldn’t have it. Papa Khan told Lo Greco, “That was out of order, what you said.”
After a couple minutes, Hearn asked all to sit and for order to be restored. Lo Greco tried to explain where he was coming from but no one wanted to hear it. “Talk about the fight,” Hearn instructed him, after asking Lo Greco to apologize to Amir. There was no apology forthcoming, from Khan or Lo Greco. Would there be one after Lo Greco had some time to contemplate his actions and words?
Nope. Lo Greco told RingTV.com that he wasn’t able to finish his point, which was this: He wanted to note that where he comes from, within his family and culture, it’s a no-no to lay out dirty laundry as Khan did, vis a vis his wife, with whom he split, but with whom he is now apparently back on.
“C’mon man, have some respect for the mother of your child,” Lo Greco told me.
No, he’s not backing off in his assessment of Khan, age 31, who told all at the presser that he feels he’s in the prime of his athletic powers. “The water in the face, only a girl would do that,” Lo Greco said to me.
“But if they had let me finish talking, the moral to the story would have been: Have respect for family and the mother of your own kid. Don’t embarrass yourself in front of millions of people like that. And he said it! And then when people use it against you, you can’t handle it? I repeat it to his face and he can’t handle it? I wanted to make a point: Honor family and wife. I do apologize – for him embarrassing his family and the mother! And I apologize to his fans, for not having a proper model. He said this sh*t. Why would I back off? Khan is mentally weak. I am going to knock this guy out,” he continued, noting that he will have a long and proper camp, which he usually doesn’t have, and thus will be at his fighting peak. “Khan will be KO’d. He disrespected me! Will I show my Italian temper? He’s a salesman, trying to sell the story…what a c**ksucker!”
Nope, not backing off an inch.
My three cents: Lo Greco has Sicilian blood and that percolating in him could make for some heated trading, come April 21. But it is clear he also has showman blood in him. He gets it, that a cardinal sin in this age of excessive media, over-ample coverage is to be boring. To cut through, you can’t be the boxer-businessman, who is just happy to be getting a check…You want to offer some entertainment value in the lead-up…and then fight like Sonny Corleone, not Fredo, when it’s glove-up time. Lo Greco admits he is 33 and will need to ask hard questions of himself, if he loses. However he insists a proper camp will have him ready to rock…and prove again that the Khan chin isn’t sturdy enough for such a dangerous game.
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