Duncan Mackay

Following the decision by the World Boxing Association light-welterweight champion Amir Khan to decamp to the United States as  the new Golden Boy, British boxing is set to lose his younger brother, Haroon who, after being omitted from the GB squads being groomed for the London Olympics, is now in negotiations to box for Pakistan in 2012.

The 18-year-old Haroon, an outstanding amateur bantamweight who has captained Young England, was tipped by Amir to emulate him and win an Olympic medal, but if he does it seems it will be in the colours of country where their father Shah was born.

After being overlooked for both the 21-strong GB podium and 11-man development squads named recently by performance director Rob McCracken, I understand both Haroon, who like Amir was born and brought up in Bolton and dad Shah have been in Karachi this week to have discussions with the Pakistan amateur boxing authorities about the possibility of him boxing for Pakistan in 2012.It is an offer that is unlikely to be refused.

This was the route Amir himself had threatened to take when it seemed he was not going to be picked by the Amateur Boxing Association (ABA) here for the 2004 Athens Olympics because he was considered too young. The ABA policy was not to select anyone under-19 for senior bouts but this was rapidly changed when the intentions of Amir and his family became known.

The Khans are upset that Haroon, who has won the majority of his 70-odd bouts as well as several junior titles, has not been picked for either squad and it seems he believes his only path to the Olympics is to box for Pakistan. Alternatively he could turn professional and work alongside Amir in Freddie Roach's Los Angeles gymnasium, where he spent some time with his older brother last year.

However perhaps he should not be too hasty because the new British Amateur Boxing Association say Haroon and other hopefuls remain on their radar. The problem is that his current 54kg weight there is considerable strength in depth, with the talented Andrew Selby, who recently won a gold medal at the prestigious Bocskai tournament in Hungary, a something of a mini-world championships, with an emphatic 13-4 victory over Russian, Vislan Dalkhayev in the final, plus Leigh Wood and Gamal Yafai, younger brother of Olympian Khalid.

It was expected that Haron, aka Harry, whose shorts are emblazoned "Baby Khan" would move up to featherweight but there he would be in contention with others including Luke Campbell, the current European amateur bantamweight champion, who is also moving into the division.

Says McCracken: "I am very happy with the squad we have but this is not a closed shop and if someone performs well in competition and shows they have the ability and dedication to make the grade they can force their way in."

Whether Haroon (pictured) is prepared to hang around and see if a place opens up is debatable. Both he, his father, along with club trainer Mick Jelley, have expressed unhappiness at some of the decisions which went against him  as a schoolboy boxer which they alleged were influenced by animosity towards Amir over he decision to turn pro after winning the silver medal in the Athens Olympics.

My guess is that he will opt to box for Pakistan, providing the International Olympic Committee (IOC) confirm his eligibility, which should not be a problem as he has never fought at senior international level for Team GB.

Welshman Selby’s gold medal was the highlight of a strong showing by Great Britain with five of the six-strong team reaching the semi-finals in the  a tournament which featured 176 boxers from 17 countries. Among them was the fast improving Tom Stalker, who had a an outstanding 12-8 victory over the current European champion Lenoid Kostaliev of Russia and Beijing Olympian Bradley Saunders who, in  his first appearance since injuring a hand in the build-up to last year’s World Championships ,eventually lost 6-2 to the current world champion Roniel Iglesias.

Since his appointment as performance director, McCracken seems to have got things moving smoothly at the GB headquarters at Sheffield’s English Institute of Sport. World Boxing Council super-middleweight champion Carl Froch whom he trains professionally, has been working there with him and the squad members in preparation for his next  Super Six series fight against  Mikkel Kessler in Denmark on April 24.

Froch says: “I sense a lot of talent and enthusiasm among these kids. They seem to look up to me and I hope it helps them having a seasoned pro like me around them. As amateurs they do a lot of fast, short work and I’m chasing them round the running track. It is like chasing a pack of gazelles as they are all keen to outdo me.

"I hope me being with them is good for their game - it certainly is for mine."

Like the nation, British amateur boxing went into recession since hitting the heights in Beijing but it is good to see the sport now punching its way out of it. But how ironic if "Baby" Khan, one of our best young prospects, ends up fighting Pakistan’s corner in London. 

Alan Hubbard is an award-winning sports columnist for The Independent on Sunday, and a former sports editor of The Observer. He has covered 11 summer Olympics and scores of world title fights from Atlanta to Zaire, and is a former chairman of the Boxing Writers’ Club.