NEW YORK -- For more than a year, Amir Khan has been chasing a fight with pound-for-pound king and welterweight world champion Floyd Mayweather but remained the bridesmaid.
Mayweather teased him about a possible fight three times, only to pick Marcos Maidana twice as an opponent and then finalize the long-anticipated showdown with Manny Pacquiao, whom he beat on May 2. But Khan might be the bridesmaid no longer.
Although Khan looked vulnerable at times, especially early, he picked it up in the second half of the fight and cruised to a unanimous decision victory against fellow former junior welterweight titleholder Chris Algieri in their welterweight main event Friday night before 7,372 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Two judges had the fight 117-111 in Khan's favor, and the third had it 115-113. ESPN.com also had it for Khan 116-112.
Mayweather (48-0, 26 KOs) plans to fight again on Sept. 12 to close out his six-fight contract with CBS/Showtime, and he needs an opponent. Khan is clearly the highest-profile foe, and perhaps the most dangerous, of those remotely in the running. Titleholder Keith Thurman is scheduled for a fight on July 11 and would not be available. Junior welterweight champion Danny Garcia does not appear to be a serious consideration and might be fighting Aug. 1. Former welterweight titleholders Shawn Porter and Adrien Broner are fighting each other on June 20, but neither have the profile of Khan, who would bring considerable money to the table thanks to television revenue in his native England.
So Khan just might get the call, especially after winning but looking just vulnerable enough that Mayweather might be interested.
"I think everybody knows Amir Khan wants to fight Floyd Mayweather," Khan said. "Mayweather is a champion, so let's make it happen."
After a difficult first half of the fight, Khan settled down, found his groove and beat Algieri over the second half with his speed and accuracy.
The 28-year-old Khan (31-3, 19 KOs) dominated the opening round with his movement and crisp punches, but Algieri (20-2, 8 KOs) did land a clean right hand that got Khan's attention, buckling him in the final seconds. The shot might have hurt Khan enough that it took him a few rounds to get himself back together.
Algieri, 31, who is from Huntington, New York, on Long Island, had a strong second round, picking up where he left off, as he pressed the action and landed some sharp punches.
Algieri, who looked much bigger than Khan, continued pressing forward in the third round and landing right hands as his hometown crowd chanted "Algieri! Algieri!"
Khan was trying to move and looked surprised by the aggression Algieri was showing, because that was not his usual style -- although Algieri was working with trainer John David Jackson for the first time, and the difference showed.
"A few mistakes I made. Obviously, I didn't think Algieri would come forward," Khan said. "I figured he would be on the back foot. [Trainer] Virgil [Hunter] gave me a game plan, and it worked for me."
Algieri continued to land clean right hands in the fourth round, seemingly wobbling Khan multiple times. But Khan got himself together and began to box smartly and pick the overaggressive Algieri apart during the sixth and seventh rounds. In the eighth round, he landed a clean right hand that stopped Algieri in his tracks.
"I spent a lot of time in the pocket. It worked, and plan on doing it more in the future," Khan said.
By the ninth round, Algieri's left eye was swollen and black and blue. A left hook seemed to hurt Algieri in the 10th round as Khan continued to pour it on, although Algieri, game as they come, pressed forward until the final bell.
"I have to show so much respect for Chris Algieri," Khan said. "He came to fight and win."
According to CompuBox statistics, Khan landed 218 of 609 punches (36 percent), and Algieri connected on 199 of 703 (28 percent), although he appeared to land far more in the first half of the bout than the second.
"I thought I did great pressuring him. I got my touches in," Algieri said. "He definitely didn't like it when I got into his body. I thought I hurt him several times, but he's a cagey guy. He spins off, and I guess the judges liked that tonight. I think that the cleaner, harder shots would get a little more respect."
Algieri was returning to the arena where he survived two knockdowns and a terribly swollen right eye -- all in the first round -- to win a split decision and a junior welterweight world title from Ruslan Provodnikov 11 months ago. Many thought Algieri lost the fight, but he parlayed the unexpected win into a shot at then-welterweight titleholder Pacquiao in Macau, China, in November.
But Algieri got knocked down six times in a one-sided decision loss, after which he fired trainer Tim Lane and hooked up with Jackson, the former world titleholder who also trains unified light heavyweight titlist Sergey Kovalev.
Now he's lost two fights in a row.
"I'm disappointed," Algieri said. "But I will watch the film from this fight and move on from there."
Khan, who won his fifth fight in a row, will also move on. He hopes it will be to Mayweather.
"Everyone knows I would love to fight Floyd next, but when you wait for something this long and hope for it this long, it tends to set you back," Khan said. "Because of that, I didn't want to look past Chris or any other fighter."
But now, Khan can look ahead to Mayweather. Unless he makes him the bridesmaid yet again.