EVEN though Amir Khan has held multiple world titles at light-welter, his recent battles have seen him lose to Danny Garcia, overcome Carlos Molina but have his hands full with Julio Diaz. Nevertheless he still aspires to fight the very best in the sport, in the division above, the pound-forpound king Floyd Mayweather.
Merely stepping into the ring with Mayweather is one of the richest prizes in the sport. Khan offered a tantalising hint that he hopes to fight in May, the month Mayweather’s next bout is expected. But Amir isn’t thinking solely about just getting the fight. He has a plan to defeat Mayweather.
“You can only beat Floyd by boxing him and even then you have to be great to do so. Too many have tried getting on the inside and roughing him up etc. But that doesn’t work. Floyd is the master. You have to be very smart and take your time and make the opportunities count, otherwise he will make you pay every time,” Khan said.
“If I do end up fighting him, we do have a gameplan and it’s something no one has done before so we will have to wait and see.”
MAKE THE COMMITMENT
VIRGIL HUNTER provides a progress report on his new student and insists Khan is not only prepared for whatever comes next, but will confound many of his doubters. “Everything is going great. I’m very proud of him and very happy with him. The commitments that he’s made, he’s kept his word. He’s committing in between fights to some of the things that we need him to do. I’ve seen a huge improvement because he’s had time to focus on a couple of things not just focus on an opponent. Focus on some of the things that he needs to correct and he’s spent quite a bit of time out here, almost two and a half months in California, even though he didn’t have a fight. And he’ll be right back,” Hunter said.
“So I’m very pleased with how we’re progressing and the commitment that we made to each other.The world will see a big difference because he’s committed to making a big difference.
FOCUS ON YOURSELF
WITH no opponent lined up after Diaz, Khan has still gone into training camp with trainer Virgil Hunter but to focus solely on improving himself, which is exactly what Hunter, a new addition to Khan’s team, urged him to do after his most recent fight.
“I’ve had two fight camps with Virgil now in San Francisco but I’ve also just had an eight-week camp in between fights, which I have never done before, focusing on a lot of core and strength work. I feel a lot stronger and fitter and it’s showing in my sparring already. I can’t wait to get in fight camp as I will be 70 per cent already.”
Hunter believes this will make a great difference to Amir. He explained, “It’s crucial. Why would you have a major talent like that and not maximize the talent? Like I told him before, you can’t just come on an eight-to-10-week training camp, when you have to focus on the opponent. But you can’t focus on your flaws and focus on the things you need to work on. But when you come to a camp outside of an opponent, now we can focus on the things we know can make you better.”
SPARRING IS EVERYTHING
KHAN is not known for shying away from getting into gym wars. He values sparring highly, not only sparring hard but using training partners of the highest quality and even from markedly higher weight divisions.
“I’ve sparred with the best in the world, including Manny Pacquiao, and it only makes you better,” Amir declared.
“Sparring is everything,” he continued, “the closest thing you’re going to get to a fight. There’s only so much you can do on pads and bags but you actually learn and execute in sparring. I’ve been sparring heavier guys who hit harder and resist punches more, the likes of [lightmiddleweight, Alfredo] Angulo, [Andre] Berto, Andre Ward [the world’s preeminent super-middleweight]. They are world champions and the experience you gain is incredible.”
For Hunter Khan’s sparring over their latest stint together has been an opportunity to assess whether Amir has been taking on board what he’s been learning and putting it into practise. Virgil enthused, “He boxed at least 60-70 rounds while he was in this particular camp and the difference was just amazing, night and day.”
AMIR is still only 27 but over the course of his long professional career he has worked with several trainers, almost all of them adding something to his repertoire.
Oliver Harrison – “Oliver was my first professional coach. He took my amateur style, kept all my good attributes and adapted them into the professional game. He taught me great combinations using explosive speed, improved my footwork and overall techniques and skills.”
Jorge Rubio – “Jorge Rubio didn’t really teach me much. I never learned anything new from him. He was just a decent padman when I needed a coach.”
Dean Powell – “Dean Powell was very experienced as he has been in the corner for many boxers over the years. He took me for one fight as Freddie Roach couldn’t be there. He was good on the pads and was a great mentor. He kept reminding me on the basics as they are very easy to forget.”
Freddie Roach – “Freddie Roach was known as the best trainer in the world.
I gained a lot of experience with him, being away at the Wild Card and training away from home in America. He taught me so many different things, like angles, setting up traps etc. We bonded well and had a great run. He’s had over 30 world champions and I am very proud of being one of them.”
Virgil Hunter – “Virgil has taken me to another level. He’s the smartest guy I know in boxing. I can’t give too much away but now I know why the likes of Andre Ward and Floyd Mayweather are so good. It will take time and I am getting there.”
THE NEW KHAN
AMIR is two fights into his new training relationship with coach Virgil Hunter. Khan had developed a reputation as an exciting speedster. After dominating Paulie Malignaggi, he came through a brutal, thrilling 12-rounder with heavy-handed Argentine Marcos Maidaina. Khan unified the WBA light-welter crown with the IBF belt when he knocked Zab Judah out in five rounds.
Then his progress became more tortuous. Lamont Peterson dragged Amir into a war, which the American won on a split decision, although Peterson would fail a post-fight drug test. Khan’s reckless aggression saw him attack Danny Garcia furiously, only to be caught by a left hook that halted him in the fourth round.
That cued the link up with Hunter. The trainer is the mentor of Andre Ward, a defensive master, and clearly Amir wants to iron out his flaws. He credits Hunter with assisting his all-round ring intelligence.
“Everything is explained with Virgil. You learn why you do things in the ring, why you throw a certain punch, why you move a certain way and so on,” Khan said. “Being in the ring with Virgil is like being in the classroom. It’s about being smart. Everything you do is for a reason. You don’t want to waste time and opportunities in the ring.”
AT the moment in a typical training day Khan might do 12 rounds of padwork and an hour of strength and conditioning training, or sparring and then strength and conditioning. S&C involved “core work, explosive weights, short shuttle sprints, ladders. Everything is fast, short and explosive, which suits my body type and style,” said Amir. “I tend to take two or three days off a week or have light days as resting is very important for recovery.”
Hunter said, “He’s very, very physically strong because he’s with a conditioning coach every day and I think he’s going to surprise a lot of people.” But Virgil also emphasises the importance of developing mentally saying, “I’m pleased that he’s been around Andre [Ward] and watching things like that. It’s also mental as well as physical.”
Amir Khan is an ambassador for Maximuscle. For more information on the UK leader in nutrition, Maximuscle visit www.maximuscle.com.