ON the eve of the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fiasco, Amir Khan sat down with a group of British journalists. Typically revealing, and showing off the scars from a third operation on his right hand, Khan spoke with optimism about the future after a difficult 18 months since losing to Canelo Alvarez in Las Vegas. During that spell of inactivity, he split with members of his family and endured problems with his wife. As ever with Khan, nothing was off the table, and he spoke passionately about the Kell Brook rivalry that just won’t go away, missing out on the Manny Pacquiao showdown, why he has the beating of Errol Spence Jnr, he makes a bold claim about Eddie Hearn and discusses that infamous social media spat with heavyweight king, Anthony Joshua.
Below is the FULL conversation.
Are you back in camp?
No. I went to see Virgil [Hunter] and everyone, but my training starts properly middle of September. I want to get back into it. I tried my hand out: my hand’s good. Everything else is back on.
How tough have the past few months been?
It’s always a tough time. There’s always ups and downs in life, and it’s how you come through it. This has only given me the chance now to focus more on boxing. This is where people are going to start saying ‘Amir’s going to fail now; we want to see him fail; he’s not going to be the same again with all those distractions’. I’m going to have to prove people wrong now, by going in there and staying on top.
I’m 30: maybe because I’ve been in the game for such a long time people forget I’m only 30 years old. I’m at the peak of my career now. Even my fight against Canelo, my last fight, I was beating Canelo in my opinion, on points, I was outboxing him, and obviously got caught with a big shot: that’s boxing for you.
I know the boxing skills are still there. My speed’s still there, my power’s still there. All it is is just fine-tuning myself now, going back to camp, getting away from all the distractions and doing what I do best.
You fell out with your team but you’re all back together now?
We’re going back to old school again: it’s what got me where I am. If I want to be the best I need my old team back, go back to old school again, those hard days of training, be dedicated, be missing things throughout training camp and everything. These are the last few years left in my career, my time where I focus and don’t make no more mistakes. If you’ve got someone like Floyd Mayweather who’s 40, on 50 fights; I’ve only had 36 fights so I’ve got a long way I can still go. I look after my body, I train hard when it comes down to it, and I just need to regroup myself now and bring that focus back.
Did you feel you had to mend the bridges?
100 per cent. From these fallouts, [READ ABOUT FALLOUTS HERE] you learn to know yourself as well, and see everything around you. When all this happens, you get to see the real people around you, who’s really looking out for you and who’s not looking out for you. I’ve got to see a lot of those things that now make a lot of sense to me.
There’s a lot of people saying ‘We can help you, we can do this for you, we can do that for you’. Your family’s always going to be there looking out for your best interests, not the opposite. There was a lot of people out there who wanted to help me but wanted to be looked out for themselves a lot more. They weren’t really doing anything; I was doing everything myself. It’s just one of them things: I don’t want to get into it too much but the time I sorted everything out was at the right time.
How did it come about, and is it nice that it’s all been sorted out?
Yeah, it’s so nice to put that under the bridge now. Now I can go into training camp and focus; training camp was all over the place. I wanted everything to be smooth: I’m one of those fighters, I like to be in peace, that’s when I best perform when I’m at peace and more relaxed. Some fighters like that bit of pressure but I don’t really cope with that pressure that well. I just want a peaceful life so I can get on with what I do best. My job is to go in the ring and fight, and win, and train hard. I’m left with that now and that’s what I’m going to do.
When are you hoping to be back in the ring?
I want to fight end of November, or early December. I know it’s been a long time since the hand, I had to have a third operation on it, but the hand’s good now. About three months ago [was the third operation]. I was punching but I hurt it in sparring, I hit someone, and they looked at it, the X-rays showed a little bit left that wasn’t healed properly. They said ‘It’s going to take a year-and-a-half for the bone to grow over it. Instead of that, why don’t you just get another op and get it done quick’. Three months I’m back to normal again.
I’m punching full-on, yeah. It used to hurt me before, even the speedball, but now there’s no pain at all. These are my tools: I need to make sure they’re bang on.
Some have suggested you might be a spent force. Is that fuel to prove people wrong?
You’ve had Mayweather out of the ring for two years, others out for longer. Boxing’s what I do best and what I’ve been doing all my life. I know I can get straight back into it and what I’m doing; I know my craft well. I don’t think that’s going to mess me up in any way or be a disadvantage. Maybe at times the ring rust will be there because it’s been that long – the timing might not be right – but you get that from sparring, from working hard.
Can we expect the next fight in the UK?
I’ve not fought at home for like six years so it’d be nice to come back to England and fight there, but it depends who the opponent is, where the fight’s going to be. There’s a few options we want to see.
Sitting down with Al Haymon?
I’m going to sit down with him. One thing about Al Haymon: he’s been so good with me. Even when I had my hand op he was calling me all the time saying ‘How are you doing? How are you feeling? Can you give me a date where you want to fight?’ I’m in that position where I can give dates, I can assess it.’ Look, ‘I want to fight on this date’, and I’ll get that date. I’ve got a good relationship with TV; TV like me, so I’m quite lucky in that sense.
So yeah, I spoke to Al, and he’s going to give me a programme where he thinks I should be fighting. I want to keep myself busy for the next three years, work hard for the next three years, and then sit back and relax.
Is there any indication of whether you will come back and fight for a world title straight away?
I don’t know if it would be a title fight but nowadays there are so many titles out there – the silvers and all that – it might be. I don’t think it will be for a main world title but maybe for a No.1 position with the WBC or the WBA or whatever.
Then after my first fight back I’d love to go into a fight with Lamont Peterson because he’s got the WBA title. That would be a world title fight and it would be good for me to avenge that loss against him.
There are a lot of good names out there for me – even Keith Thurman. A lot of people are talking about him but I don’t really see him as a big threat. He’s a good fighter who punches hard and puts his punches together very well but he’s very beatable.
Also Errol Spence is very beatable in my eyes. With my style I know I can do really well against these guys. Don’t get me wrong, they would be tough fights but these are the fights I want.
Would beating Spence allow you to put Brook thing to one side?
To be honest, yeah. Also with Brook always mouthing off… Look at me, I’ve been travelling to training camp, keeping my training up whereas Brook is on a plane getting pissed somewhere. That’s the difference between a professional sportsman and someone who is just fucking about and wants that big payday fight.
The only way I would take that Brook fight is if he left Eddie Hearn. I just don’t like Eddie Hearn, I think he’s very disrespectful and he’s never come clear with me. If he really wanted the fight between me and Kell Brook he should not be speaking to me, he should be speaking to Al Haymon. I always said that to him.
When a guy comes to me, like Eddie Hearn did, and says ‘I know you’ll beat Kell Brook, it will make you a lot of money, let’s give him that big pay cheque’. Eddie Hearn said that to me, he knows I’d beat Kell Brook, there are levels in boxing. I don’t really rate Kell Brook.
I could take that fight and beat him but why should I give him the opportunity when he just talks trash all the time? Then Eddie Hearn says one thing somewhere then says something else. This is boxing, I don’t want to make enemies in boxing but some people are just like that. I try to be a good guy and keep away from all the drama and everything.
Sometimes people get involved and you just think ‘you don’t need to be here’. That’s one of the reasons why I keep away from Eddie Hearn and his shows, I just don’t want to be in that drama. He might be a nice guy but…
It’s a fight the public still wants to see, though.
It’s a fight that the public want but the one thing about it is that it’s always going to be there even if it’s the last fight of my career. There are still big names that I want to fight in America. If I fight Peterson, Garcia, Thurman, Spence… but Kell Brook will always be in the UK. He’s coming off a loss, I’m coming off a loss so that fight will always be there.
I think it will be good if Kell gets back in it again and gets a couple of wins because he’s had back-to-back losses. I remember when I had back-to-back losses, you need to get your confidence back up again. I don’t want to fight him while he’s low, I want to fight him when he’s at his best.
Maybe towards the end of my career that could be one of my last fights to maybe close the chapter in boxing.
Does a fight with Adrien Broner interest you?
You never know, it just depends on Al Haymon, what he decides and the route he tells me to go. You guys know I’ve never turned any fight down. Whoever they put in front of me, I’ll take the fight.
I just don’t think Broner would ever take it, to be honest with you. I don’t think he’ll ever fight me. The 147lb division has a lot of big names and there are a lot of names who are very dangerous that we’re not even talking about. The division is full.
What do you want to achieve in the two years you say you have left?
I want to win another world title and I want to get at least four to five fights in then call it a day.
Do you think you need to put a bit of shine back on your career?
Definitely. Even the fights I have lost – like the last one against Canelo – people have talked very highly of me, saying I show a lot of balls to fight someone like him and do really well against him.
But I need to go back to my own way, to what is natural for me, to what feels good to me.
I need to win another win another world title and I know it’s winnable. The likes of Petersen, Spence, Thurman – I know I can get in the ring with these guys and it is a 50-50 fight and anything can happen.
How important is it for you to avenge the losses to Garcia and Peterson?
I think it is very important, especially the Garcia one, if he will take it. These are the fights that I want and the public want to see these fights. I want these fights. It’s very important for my career
to have these fights.
If I give myself four to five fights – it would be good to get these two fights.
Could you retire happy if you don’t avenge those losses?
Yeah, look, at the end of the day, it is not war. It would be hard but I know those fights can happen. With those guys being with Al Haymon, these fights can happen. I think I’m with the right team.
Could you just walk into a fight like that now or do you need a tune-up before?
To be honest with you, I know I could walk into one now but it would be best to have – not a tune-up fight – but a half-decent fight to get back into it, to get the ball rolling. The last year or two has been a bit slow. I want to get two or three fights a year now.
With Ramadan falling in the middle, it’s enough to get two fights a year, I would be happy with that.
Since the loss to Alvarez, has it crossed your mind that you may not fight again?
No, never. When you get knocked out by one big punch, I think that is when damage can be done to you. On the times I have been hurt, it hasn’t really been with one big punch, apart from the Garcia one where there were a few big shots thrown there because I kept getting up.
You were in negotiations to fight Manny Pacquiao earlier this year. How frustrating was it that the fight didn’t materialise?
It was very frustrating because it got very close and I thought it was going to happen and it would have been a very good fight for me. That’s the sort of fight I need to get back to where I want to be. Even Jeff Horn – he’s another world champion.
The division is open, there are some big names out there. There are even guys with no titles who people want to see. I haven’t got a title, Pacquaio’s got no title, Garcia’s got no title. These are big fighters that people want to see, who are still on the top 10 radar.
Has everything that’s happened in your personal life recently highlighted the need to get back in the ring?
Yes, it’s where I’m comfortable. I need one fight, get it over and then it’s back to normal again. People are very frustrated – as much as I am myself – that I have not fought for a long time.
And that makes it harder to deal with everything else?
Yeah, it does make it a little bit harder because I want to do what I do best and people are forgetting that. But it has only been because of the hand and it takes time for the hand to heal.
It gets frustrating because people are focusing on other things and making them bigger than they are. But once my training camp starts, that’s it. That’s my focus.
Where will training camp be?
San Francisco. I like San Francisco, it gets me away from everything and it gets me focused. It gets a little bit boring at times but I am going to go back to old school again.
I don’t want friends around me, dossing around – camp has to be a little bit boring. I think that’s when I got the best out of me – when I was bored in LA. I only want one or two people around me. You can’t make it comfortable.
I spoke to Andre Ward. He does the same thing. He locks himself in a small house away from his family. It gets him so frustrated and it gets him all geared up to go and the ring and say, ‘I’m going to knock this guy out because he has kept me away from my family.’
Have you spoken to Anthony Joshua since the public spat on social media?
He rang me, he spoke to me. Everything is cool. I said: look, everything was a misunderstanding and we just put a bag over it. He goes, ‘I wanna be able to come over and shake your hand, champ. We want to keep that respect and love.’