Amir Khan has questioned whether Floyd Mayweather Jr is capable of out-boxing him as talk of a showdown with the unbeaten American mounts.
Khan's comments follow criticism from ESPN analyst Stephen A Smith, who insisted the Bolton-born fighter is not a realistic candidate for Mayweather's 48<sup>th fight, likely to take place in May 2015.
Smith added boxing fans "don't given a damn about Khan" suggesting his loss to Danny Garcia two years ago rules him out of contention for bouts with the welterweight division's elite, with both Saul Alvarez and Miguel Cotto ahead of him in the pecking order.
Speaking to Fight Hype, Khan has hit back at his critics, insisting past defeats should have no bearing on the future.
"No disrespect, I understand he [Smith] may want to see that fight, but if there are reasons why that fight isn't going to happen, there is no need to put me down."
Responding to Smith's criticism of his performance against Garcia, Khan continued: "I wasn't knocked out. I was on my feet, but then you have got Manny Pacquiao, who's been knocked out cold [against Juan Manuel Marquez in 2012] and you guys are saying he should be next in line?
"Manny's my friend, but I've just come off a good win at 147 and looked better in my last fight than he did in his last fight.
"I've fought and beat guys like [Andriy] Kotelnik, Paulie [Malignaggi] and Madiana, who fought Mayweather twice and everyone was like 'yeah, he [Maidana] has got a great chance. He's got a great chance. He's a great fighter.' I've already beaten a guy that Mayweather just fought and put him down as well.
"Look, Floyd is not the biggest puncher, so I know he's not going to hurt me, but can he out-box me? I'm younger, I'm faster and I box better than Manny Pacquiao."
After extending his career record to 47-0 against Madiana in September, Mayweather claimed he will see out the final two fights remaining in his Showtime television contract before retiring next year.
While the 37-year-old has been reluctant to discuss a fight with Pacquiao – recently dismissing claims of contract talks made by the Filipino's promoter Bob Arum – he has spoken positively of fighting Khan.
Khan is scheduled to fight on 6 December, with Robert Guerrero tipped to be his opponent, but a meeting with five-weight world champion Mayweather could beckon in May next year.