THE text came out of the blue. “Oscar [De La Hoya] messaged me one day, saying what do you think about fighting Canelo,” Amir Khan explained. “I didn’t really take much notice of it at first. The message was on my phone for a couple of days and I didn’t really get back to him. Then I thought about it and I started watching some videos of his previous fights and I thought I can win this fight. I know the guy’s strong and I won’t be stupid to stand there and trade with him. I’ve never gone into a fight as an underdog. This fight I’m going in as an underdog and that’s what’s giving me that extra push. Normally I’m the one who’s supposed to win the fight. This fight I don’t feel that same pressure but I really want to win this. I want to prove to everyone how good I am.”
Khan’s team was in the midst of negotiating other fights, potentially with WBC welterweight champion Danny Garcia and there was some talk of boxing Manny Pacquiao. “At it was if we don’t need it [the Canelo fight], we don’t need it, because I was the mandatory for the Garcia fight. So I thought I was having the Garcia fight next,” Amir said. “Then I got a phonecall from Bob Arum’s team because they said they want to do a Pacquiao fight with me. So we were in negotiations for that fight but that fight fell through. Pacquiao or his team didn’t want the fight. They just had me negotiating, having me there, using my name to play off another two names, they had Crawford and they had Bradley so they had me in that mix, playing my name off.”
IBF champion Kell Brook was eager to fight his British rival at Wembley stadium. While Canelo Alvarez might be more dangerous for him, Khan decided the Mexican was the more appealing option. “It’s a bigger fight financially. It’s not only a bigger fight in England, it’s a bigger fight worldwide. That’s one of the reasons I took it. It’s a global fight. Especially in America for my profile there it will be massive there and in England. Giving the British fans one of the biggest fights this year. Something you’ve never expected, no one expected this, the shock has just made this fight even bigger,” Amir said.
The Bolton man is adamant he can outbox Canelo. “A lot of people think I’m the one that’s not going to be strong or big enough for this guy. As you saw at the press conference I’m a very big fighter at my weight. When it comes to middleweight I get to hold that muscle, hold that strength. This may have been the best weight for me. I’ve never fought at this weight. This is the first time I’m going to do this,” he speculated before outlining his key to victory, “I’ve seen fights where Canelo’s fought guys who move. Guys who move well give him big problems. If I was a flat-footed guy and I was just going to stand there I think it would be the worst style for me, worst fight for me. Because I’m a good mover and I’ve got good reflexes and good movement and everything, I think it’s one of the best fights for me. To win this fight would take me right up the pound for pound for rankings.
“I was 147lbs and I was walking into the ring at 162lbs. I can’t see him being 165, I think he’ll be 173. It just depends on what his strategy will be for the fight. He knows that I’m a mover so he might try to come in a little bit lighter. Maybe he’ll want to keep up with me. We might be the same weight coming into the fight.
“Whatever weight he is coming into this fight we’re going to have answers for. I’m expecting the best Canelo.”
Khan is also adamant that his mindset will be different and this time he will resist the urge to be drawn into a brawl. “When you’re fighting guys who you’re meant to beat and you’re not the underdog and you go into fights when you’re the favourite to win, it could be against Garcia, [Lamont] Peterson, [Breidis] Prescott whoever, what happens is the focus isn’t the same,” Amir insists.
“When I’m in a fight like this where I’m the underdog, that’ll only make me train harder and work harder and I’ve never been in this position as a professional. I’ve never been an underdog in any professional fight.”