Boxing


Amir Khan: ďItís going to be a tough fight and I think Maidanaís got his hands full on the nightĒ

by Geoffrey Ciani - This weekís 96th edition of On the Ropes Boxing Radio featured an exclusive interview with WBA junior welterweight champion Amir Khan (23-1, 17 KOs) who is preparing to defend his title against Marcos Maidana (29-1, 27 KOs) on December 11. Last time out, Khan put on an impressive performance in his second title defense when he defeated Paulie Malignaggi by eleventh round TKO. Khan spoke about his upcoming fight, his training experiences with Manny Pacquiao, and also provided insights and opinions on the current boxing landscape. Here is a complete transcript of that interview.

JENNA J: Anyway guys, itís time for our first guest on this weekís show. He is currently the WBA light welterweight champion of the world, joining us for the second time, we have Amir Khan. Howís everything going today, Amir?

AMIR KHAN: Yeah, everythingís going really well. Iíve just been training hard. In training camp itís been a few weeks now and it feels good to be back here focused and to get my body back in condition.

JENNA: Great. Amir, you have a very big fight coming up on December 11 against Marcos Maidana. How do you feel about your opponent?

KHAN: Yeah you know heís a tough guy. I think everyone knows when they see Marcos Maidana fight, heís a pressure fighter who throws big looping shots. Heís a power puncher. I think his record says it all. I think heís knocked 27 out, out of the 30. So itís going to be exciting, because there are two punchers in this fight and I think itís a fight that people should watch, because out of all the fights in that division, I think itís the most exciting fight up to now.

JENNA: Alright, now you mentioned a little bit about the way Maidana fights. What do you think of the things heís accomplished so far at this weight class?

KHAN: I think heís accomplished a lot, really. He boxed Victor Ortiz knocking him out and Victor was an up and coming fighter at that time, and I think that just put him up in the top four in the light welterweight division. But I donít think heís boxed anyone with a clever style like myselfósomeone whoís smart in the ring, someone who boxes and hits hard, and knows the ring inside out. So itís going to be a tough fight and I think Maidanaís got his hands full on the night.

JENNA:Itís been over two years since your fight with Breidis Prescott. This is the first puncher you face, the first real puncher since then. What do you think you have learned since that fight?

KHAN: You know since that fight I have learned a lot, because I think in a way it was a good thing it happened. It made me realize that I have to train harder and focus more. Since then Iíve changed my training camp from the UK to LA with Freddie Roach. Since then Iíve sparred with Manny Pacquiao and developed training with him, and also had Freddie in my corner who helps me out. So I made a huge difference and a huge help in my career, so I think that was a good help that he did. I think without that defeat, I donít think Iíd be in this position. I think thatís the only fight people keep bringing up because theyíve got nothing on me. I think every interview people say, ďWhat do you think about the Prescott defeat?Ē It was two years ago, you know? It was so long ago. If people still want to bring that up, thatís fine. After I knockout Maidana, I think that will just kill that question what people think. At the end of the day, I think thatís just part of boxing. The critics are always going to be there, but in a way it just motivates me and makes me train harder.

JENNA: Now you mentioned Freddie Roach. Youíve been working with him almost two years now. What do you think heís improved in you the most?

KHAN: Yeah, we worked on a lot of stuffóbeing patient, working the jab, working the right shots at the right time. Before I used to fight with a lot of heart and just step in there and fight, and that wasnít my style. My style is a boxing styleóhit and move, and be sharp and use the advantages I have. Thatís what Iíve done now with Freddie. Freddieís brought the best out of me.

JENNA: Great! Amir, weíre also joined by my co-host, Geoff.

GEOFFREY CIANI: Hi Amir, itís great to have you back on the program.

KHAN: Oh thanks. Thank you.

CIANI: I wanted to get your opinion on some of the other top guys in your division, Amir, and specifically Iím curious what you think of the upcoming fight between Timothy Bradley and Devon Alexander?

KHAN: I think thatís a good fight. If you remember when I beat Paulie Malignaggi I did make that statement that Iíd fight Maidana and that I think those are two guys, Bradley and Alexander, who should fight each other and thatís how itís worked out. If you look, the top four fighters in the division are fighting each other to see whoís the number one. So hopefully the winner fights the winner, and I think thatís what boxing should be all about. The best should fight the best. Itís good for the viewers, itís good for the boxing fans, and if you want to be known as a great fighter you need to do that. Yeah, thatís a good fight. I think itís going to be a tough fight for both fighters and the best one will win the fight.

CIANI: Do you have any idea on how you think this one will play out and who you think will win?

KHAN: In my fight with Maidana I can see myself coming out of that fight as the winner, and the winner of the Bradley-Alexander fight is a tough call because I think Alexander is still a bit raw. Heís still a little inexperienced. If he doesnít catch Bradley in the early rounds I think he could lose the fight because I think with Bradley, he has a lot of experience and he knows exactly what to do and heís totally changed his style a few times. If you watch his last few fights heís changed his style a little bit. He boxes a little bit more and heís got quick hands. Heís a tough guy, but I give it 60-40 to Bradley.

CIANI: If you do win your fight with Maidana and you do indeed fight the winner of that fight, do you have a preference in which one of those guys wins?

KHAN: No, I'll fight anyone. I'll fight any one of them. That's not a problem. I just welcome both fighters. I don't mind fighting southpaws if Alexander wins, and if Bradley wins the fight I don't mind fighting him. I've got a great style and good height. I think I'll be ready for both of them.

CIANI: In Alexanderís last fight he had a little bit of a struggle against an opponent that you handled easily in Kotelnik. Iím wondering what your thoughts on that fight were and if you thought Alexander did enough to win that fight?

KHAN: Well you know it was a close fight. I would have given a good draw or maybe Kotelnik by one round, but I think different styles make different fights. I think Alexander was a bit shocked by the way Kotelnik comes out. Kotelnik doesnít get the respect that he should get really because when I fought him, and I beat him hands down, I think people said Kotelnikís no good and that heís a walk-over. But then I think he proved it when he fought Alexander. Kotelnikís a tough fighter. Heís strong, he likes to fight, and heís game. He could take a good shot and heís always in front of you so it just shows what Kotelnik is about. Yeah, it was a close fight. Like I said, styles make fights and Iím sure Alexander has learned a lot off that fight and is going to come back stronger. When he fights Bradley he wonít make the same mistakes.

CIANI: Now if you do wind up facing Alexander, a lot of observers and fans in particular are saying that since you had such an easy time with Kotelnik and Alexander struggled, a lot of people are expecting you to get by him, but as you stated ďstyles make fightsĒ. How do you think your style matches up against somebody like Alexander?

KHAN: Well I think itís a good style. I can see myself coming through that fight with speed and power. A lot of people say Alexander hits hard and is a big puncher, but I donít really think heís a big puncher. I think he throws a lot of punches and he just throws a one off bomb and if he catches you, then just like any fighter, if heís going to catch you clean with a shot youíre going to go down. That would be a good fight. Like I said, styles make fights and it will be an exciting fight because weíre both young and weíre both hungry and weíll come into the ring fit and strong. So thatís two young fighters in their prime who are going to face each other and I think that would be a good fight.

JENNA: Alright Amir, youíre currently training and doing some sparring with Manny Pacquiao. How does it feel to be working with someone that has accomplished so much in this sport?

KHAN: Oh itís been brilliant, because I sparred with him after defeat two years ago. I did really well with him then, but this time Iíve done even better and it just shows how much Iíve come on since Iíve been training with Manny. But weíve been doing very little sparring because Manny is fighting a totally different style and Iím fighting an orthodox fighter. So Mannyís not really a big help in this, and the only thing that Mannyís helping is to keep me sharp and to keep me on the edge when I spar and stuff and to make sure I keep my hands up and everything. Yeah, sparring went really well. Itís just great to work with somebody like Manny because Manny is known as one of the best fighters in the world.

JENNA: Between the both of you guys when youíre in sparring there, I know competitive instincts take over. Who gets the better of it?

KHAN: Itís a 50-50 spar. You know weíre both learning. Some days I have a good day, but some days Manny has a good day. I think thatís just sparring. You help and you learn with each other, but sometimes it does get out of hand where Freddie has to step in and say, ďCalm down, itís only a sparĒ. Itís a good thing, because then weíre learning with each other and me and Manny are good friends outside the ring, but we know when weíre in the ring itís business. We need to train hard and work hard, but sparring is going really well. I enjoy it. At the end of the day I have learned so much off of Manny and heís learned a little off me as well.

JENNA: Now Manny himself has a fight that heís training for on November 13 against Antonio Margarito. How do you see that fight going?

KHAN: I think Manny will win the fight. Margaritoís a tough guy. He can take a good shot. He stands in front of you. I think heís quite static and also I donít think heís as quick as Manny. I think Manny will hit and move and hit the angles and catch him by surprise every time. So yeah, itís going to be a good fight to watch, though. I think it will go into the later rounds but I can see Manny probably stopping him in the later rounds.

CIANI: I wanted to get your opinion on some of your fellow British fighters, and some of their fights coming up, and just on some of their careers in general. I wanted to start off, in the Super Six super middleweight tournament, Carl Froch has a fight coming up against Arthur Abraham and Iím wondering what you think about Carl as a fighter and what you think about his upcoming fight against Abraham?

KHAN: Yeah, you know Carl Froch I think is not a bad fighter. Heís had his ups and downs inside of boxing. Heís said a lot of trash about me and stuff, but Iíll be professional and talk about most of the good things about him. I think heís got a big heart when he fights. His defense, I think, needs to be tightened up a little bit because I think he does get caught a lot. If youíre going to get caught by a guy like Arthur Abraham whoís a very big puncher, I think he can put a lot of people to sleep. I think he needs to tighten up his defense. He gets caught a lot, but I think itís going to be a tough fight for him and if he wants to win the Super Six I think he has to get through this fight and win this fight.

CIANI: Now the other big fight that I know a lot of British fans are talking about right now is the upcoming heavyweight title fight between David Haye and Audley Harrison, and Iím wondering if you could give us some quick views on that one?

KHAN: Yeah, they both were friends. David Haye, I think whenever he fights he has a similar style to me where heís very exciting. He pushes 100% in the ring and he gives the fans a good fight to watch, whereas Audley I think is a little boring. I think maybe his age has gotten to him. Heís a lot slower, but with a lot of experience. Being an Olympic Gold Medalist heís got a good background. In the fight I can probably see David Haye probably knocking him out in the mid rounds, breaking him down slowly with that jab and then catching him over the top when he throws his long shots.

CIANI: Now if David Haye does indeed come out victorious in this fight, do you think weíll see him in there against a Klitschko next year?

KHAN: Yeah, you know thereís another British fighter whoís fighting a Klitschko. I think the fightís been done which is Derek Chisora so I think, yeah, the winner of that fight David should fight because I was speaking to him just before I left England and he was talking about when he wants to retire. He thinks in another twelve months he wants to retire, so in the next twelve months I think a fight will happen with the Klitschko brothers.

CIANI: Which British fighter out there has had the most positive impact on your career either as a fighter or from the perspective of a fan that helped you improve as a fighter?

KHAN: Thereís a few really. Thereís Ricky Hatton whoís been a big help. We get along quite well. Weíre good friends and when I fought as a professional he was giving me some good advice. Also Naseem Hamed is a good friend of mine as well. We have a good chat now and then, and we got talking a lot when I was fighting Barrera. The last few fights heís been ringside watching me fight. So Iíve got a good relationship with all of the fighters. At the end of the day all of the fighters in England, it could be Joe Calzaghe, it could be Naseem Hamed or Ricky Hatton. They all respect me and I respect them as well and we know each other quite well. We give each other advice. The two main guys are probably Hatton and Naseem Hamed, maybe because weíre quite local. We live not far from each other so we see each other more often and thatís when we probably have a chat.

CIANI: With regards to Ricky Hatton, do you think heíll ever get back in the ring and do you think he will ever want to come back into boxing?

KHAN: Well you know he had stuff about taking the illegal substances and stuff, and the commission in England have taken the boxing license off him. So I canít really see him coming back and getting in the ring, but really I donít think he should come back. Maybe as a friend and giving him some advice, I donít think he should come back because, especially if he comes back at the 140 pound division, itís a tough division because of big fighting names there and also heís been out so long now. After getting hurt in his last fight, I think he should call it a day. Heís made a lot of money in the sport and also heís known as a boxing legend in Britain. So I think he doesnít have to come back. Iím sure heís earned a lot of money in the sport so he can just relax now.

CIANI: Now the other guy you mentioned was Hamed. Iím wondering if you could just give me some views on what you thought of his boxing career and what you thought it was that made him such a special fighter during his peak years?

KHAN: If you look back and you watch his fights, people think Floyd Mayweather was flamboyant and he was cocky and everything, but when Naz was fighting I think Naz was like ten times worse. He was worse than Floyd. He had the style, he had the mouth to back it up and the power as well. I remember watching the Kevin Kelly fight. I think I thought they were going to fight before the fight. Naz was a great fighter. He was a great puncher. He made a lot of money in the game. I think still people respect him and what he did in the game. He brought a lot of show business in the game, especially in the lower weight divisions where before there used to be big money in the higher divisions, and with Naz, there lot of money pumped into the lighter divisions after seeing him fight.

JENNA: Alright Amir, we have just a couple of more questions before we let you off the line. Iím wondering, what are your thoughts on the whole Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather situation? Those two have tried to fight numerous times. The fights havenít come together. Do you think weíll ever see those two get in the ring?

KHAN: Itís an exciting fight. I think the world wants that fight to happen. I speak to Manny, and Manny wants the fight but then as soon as it gets close to signing the deal off thereís always little things that they disagree about. I think now itís the money issues. They should give it a split, but theyíre still not happy. One fighter wants 60% then the other fighter wants 60%. So I think they should call it 50-50 and the winner should take an extra 10% and thatís the way it should be. Thatís a fight that boxing fans want to see. Itís going to be explosive because you got two pound-for-pound fighters in the world who no one can touch. To put them in the same ring, and normally youíd never get them in the same division, but this time they are in the same weight division. So I think that fight should happen, and when I speak to Manny, Manny 100% wants the fight so I think the ball is in Floydís corner.

JENNA: Now speaking of Floyd Mayweather Junior, your name has come up as a possible opponent for him if that fight doesnít happen with Pacquiao. How much would you like to face Floyd Mayweather Junior if youíre successful against Marcos Maidana?

KHAN: Well you know Iíve always said I wanted to unify the division before I move up to welterweight. I think itís a fight in the future. People think Iím talking about fighting him next week when people heard that I was interested in fighting him, but itís a work in progress. Itís maybe going to take around about twelve to fifteen months if the fight is ever going to be made. So people need to understand that I want to get through Maidana, then fight the winner of Alexander-Bradley, and then maybe possibly be in a position to fight someone like Floyd Mayweather. I think styles make fights and I think it would be a good fight. Thatís in good time. I want to hit my peak first, I want to be in the best of shape, and then take it from there.

JENNA: Now my co-host Geoff brought up you potentially facing the winner of Alexander-Bradley and you said ďIíll fight any of themĒ, but with both taking shots at you in the press, is there one that youíd be more motivated to silence?

KHAN: Not really, because I think in boxing, I think with fighters they're always speaking and trash-talking about each other and it's not really my style. I'm just happy to fight the winner. I want to fight the winner really. Boxing's a business and if you want to be the best in the sport you have to fight the best so I want to fight the guy who wins the fight and shut him up really. Once I beat the winner of the Bradley-Alexander fight I think people will know who is the best is in the division, but yeah I'm happy to fight either of them.

JENNA: Another fight thatís been talked about potentially for you is a fight between you and Juan Manuel Marquez. He has a fight coming up against Michael Katsidis. How do you see that fight going?

KHAN: I think itís a tough fight. I think Marquez is the better boxer and with boxing skills like he has heíll probably walk through the fight and it will probably go the distance where Marquez wins by unanimous. But I think now I think Iím going to overlook that fight. He didnít want to fight me, and I donít want to go back and say I want to fight him again because he had his chance and thatís it. He lost that chance to fight me. I want to move on and fight the other big names like Maidana, and Alexander, and Bradley, and the other big names out there. I think Marquez had his chance and he didnít take it. But who knows, in boxing anything can happen. The best fights are made over night. So maybe in the future that fight could happen, but at the moment heís not on my radar.

JENNA: Now you mentioned big names out there. Thereís a name from the past that returned and that would be Erik Morales. Heís had two successful wins. Would you ever consider having a fight with him?

KHAN: Well I think he has to prove himself first, really. Erik Morales is a big name, and I think when I fought Barrera it was about getting my name back up there after a defeat and putting me back in position to be in the WBO rankings because he was the number one at that time. Thatís the reason we took the fight against Barrera, but with Erik Morales coming back, I think it could be a fight in the future. He has to prove himself first with a few big wins and then Iíll be happy to take him on.

JENNA: What is your official prediction for your fight against Marcos Maidana on December 11?

KHAN: You got two big punchers. You got the boxer/puncher and the big puncher. I think always when thereís a fighter with a boxer, the boxer always wins the fight with the skills and speed. I can see myself winning maybe with a late stoppage or a twelve round decision.

JENNA: Is there anything you want to say to all your fans out there?

KHAN: I just want to thank them all because with their support I get from around the world, itís brilliant. If they want to follow me at Twitter, itís ďAmirKingKhanĒ. Iíll keep them all updated with sparring with Manny and also training camps, how my training is coming along. I upload pictures and everything. So yeah, it would be great for them if they want to keep updated with my career. So thatís ďAmirKingKhanĒ.

JENNA: Well thatís fantastic. Itís been an absolute pleasure having you on the show. We thank you for your time Amir and wish you the best of luck against Marcos Maidana.

KHAN: Thank you very much.

CIANI: Thanks Amir. Good luck.

KHAN: Thanks man. Good bye.

***




For those interested in listening to the Amir Khan interview in its entirety, it begins approximately twenty-four minutes into the program.

***

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Article posted on 20.10.2010



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