Amir Khan: ďI knew when Maidana hit me that I wasnít hurt so I can stand there and take a few moreĒ
by Geoffrey Ciani - This weekís 104th edition of On the Ropes Boxing Radio featured an exclusive interview with WBA junior welterweight champion Amir Khan (24-1, 17 KOs), who is coming off an impressive title defense against hard-hitting Marcos Maidana (29-2, 27 KOs) in a ĎFight of the Yearí caliber contest. Khan spoke about his fight and his future. Here is a complete transcript of that interview.
JENNA J: I think itís time for our fourth and final guest for this weekís episode. He is the current WBA light welterweight champion of the world making his third appearance on our air. We are joined once again by Amir Khan. Howís everything going tonight, Amir?
AMIR KHAN: Yeah, everything is going really well. Thank you.
JENNA: Amir, you had a gutsy performance this past weekend against Marcos Maidana. You won a twelve round unanimous decision. How do you feel about your performance?
KHAN: First of all I want to thank God, and I want to thank my trainer Freddie Roach and also my strength conditioner Alex Ariza for doing a great job and getting me in shape. I think every fight you see me I come in better and stronger. I think the fight was, as you all know it was a tough fight. Maidana was a guy who never took a step back and he was game from the first round. He wanted to fight and I was not there to run away. I was there to fight him as well, but Iím happy with the performance. Iíve seen the fight over and over again. There are a few mistakes I made in that fight and we just got to improve on them.
JENNA: Letís talk about the bout itself. Early on you looked very strong. You looked like the much bigger guy in there and you hit him with a perfect left hook to the body and you knocked him down. Did you think at that point that he would not be able to recover?
KHAN: Well you know, after that first body shot I really thought the fight was going to be stopped. After looking at his facial expressions, he was in pain. He was in agony, and I was quite surprised that he got up and he was still hurt when he was up. The ref was goading him on. He was still crunching and he was in pain, so I was quite surprised the referee still let the fight on. So yeah he left the fight on, and I knew his body was weak. With Maidana heís never had a good body. We just didnít throw any more shots down there, because the few times when I did try going down there and tried throwing a left hook to his body and his ribs, he kept coming over me with his shots so I had to be careful.
JENNA: Alright now in the second round, you were again very dominant against him. You were very strong that round. Did you think you would be able to follow up and stop him after you had knocked him down the previous round?
KHAN: Not really, because I know this guy. Heís a ballsy guy and heís strong. He doesnít take a step back and heís got a lot of heart. So I knew I didnít want to go in there and try finishing him off and just getting myself tired. But I knew he was hurt to the body because he was keeping his elbows very, very low. We just stuck to the game plan. I went to the corner and Freddie told me to stay calm and just stick behind the jab, and everything will go from there.
JENNA: Now you mentioned before that you did make some mistakes in the bout. One of the things that Maidana did that was most successful against you were some inside uppercuts. Why do you think you were unable to stop that part of the offensive attack he had?
KHAN: Well the reason he was in there was because we didnít want to burn out too quickly and there were times that we were taking a breather and taking his shots, because a lot of people know how hard this guy really hits. People were saying heís the hardest hitter in the division, but we take some shots. I knew when Maidana hit me that I wasnít hurt so I can stand there and take a few more. He was cutting the ring quite well and I think Maidana came into this fight ready.
JENNA: Amir, when you look at this whole experience do you think it was actually better for you that this bout went the distance, that he did get up from that knockdown, and that you did have to battle through that adversity to prove the critics wrong after your previous loss to show that you can take a punch?
KHAN: Yeah, definitely. I think if the fight had been stopped in the first round then itís quite hard to tell who is the better fighter but you go from there and then I dominated the fight. I watched the fight and I still think the scorecards were a lot closer than the fight actually was. When I was watching the fight I thought I was dominating quite easily. I learned so much and got a lot of experience just from going the full distance with him. There were times I was under pressure and there were times when I had to think about things, but it went really well.
JENNA: Now letís talk about the only real trouble that you were in, in the bout. It was in the tenth round. You seemed to be boxing very effectively. The previous round you had completely blunted his attack. Then he landed an overhand right that had you on shaky legs. What were you feeling at that moment in that round?
KHAN: Well you know he caught me in that tenth round with a looping shot over the top. We knew we were going to get hit in this fight, and that we were going to get hit with a good shot. Maidana knocked out twenty-seven out of his thirty opponents. Heís a big puncher. We all know. Just because he got me a little bit shaky doesnít mean Iíve got no chin. So there are probably people out there who think, oh Amirís legs shook in the tenth round. We were both tired and he caught me with a shot, and with big punchers the power is always going to be there throughout the fight, but I composed myself. He was still throwing at me, caught me on the ropes again, he caught me with a few good shots, and I took them. Towards the end of the round I was back to normal again, and I started boxing again and working behind the jab.
JENNA: Letís talk a little bit about your condition for this bout, because in the twelfth round in the last fifteen seconds you threw a terrific combination to end the fight. How did you feel from start to finish?
KHAN: I love finishing fights with a good quick combination, and my combinations were really good for this fight because it was a ten week training camp, I was training with Manny Pacquiao, and Freddieís been training me hard, and Alex Ariza is getting me up in the morning at like 5am and taking me to the track and doing sprints, and swimming, and all sorts of different conditioning work. So in a way heís been a great help in this fight because if the conditioning wasnít there than I donít think Iíd be the winner. At the end of the day we train hard, and the harder you train outside the ring the easier it is in there.
JENNA: Well Amir, weíre also joined by my co-host Geoff.
GEOFFREY CIANI: Hi Amir. Congratulations on your tremendous victory.
KHAN: Thank you. Thank you.
CIANI: Now Amir, I wanted to ask you, you overcame some adversity there, especially late in the fight. You were under some heavy fire but you were able to remain calm and collected throughout all of that. How much of that do you attribute to the mental preparations you had Freddie Roach, and how much do you attribute it to you just wanting it that badly?
KHAN: Yeah you know, I think it takes two really. You got Freddie, who is one of the best trainers in the world who helps me to stay focused and I have so much trust in him. I follow his instructions and heís gotten me this far, and then you have to believe in yourself because I was focused throughout the fight and I didnít want to slip in any way. I wanted to stay in front of him and stay one step ahead of Maidana. There were times we were hurt. There were times when we were under pressure, but we stayed nice and calm because Freddie teaches you to stay calm and when you are calm you think easily and things flow a lot easier. As you had seen when I was hurt in the tenth round, I stayed nice and calm and I took the shots on my arms. He still got through with a few, but I still stayed calm and I got through that and I learned quite easily towards the end.
CIANI: Now boxing fans on boxing message boards are arguing over the quality of your performance, but whether itís your fans or your detractors, one thing they all seem to agree on is that you were involved in a ĎFight of the Yearí caliber performance. How does it feel to be on the winning side of that type of fight?
KHAN: I think it was one of the ĎFights of the Yearí because you have two styles that are two young fighters, explosive, both in their primes, and both want to fight. We never give up. This is what happened and he would never take a step back. I was moving forward. I took a few steps back but the only reason I took a step back was to bring him on to me so he can fall into my shots. But it was a fight that the fans loved, TV broadcasters loved, and it was so exciting that people were on the edge of their seats. I really think this fight would be ĎThe Fight of the Yearí.
CIANI: What do you think was the most important thing you learned from such a tough fight?
KHAN: I think itís all about being calm and being focused on the fight. By being focused on a fight, it takes you a long way. Thatís what I did this time. I stuck to a great game plan and I listened to my corner, and when you listen to your corner it only makes you a better fighter and makes the fight a lot easier. I could have made that fight a lot harder if I stood there, and I traded with him, and I didnít listen to Freddie, because sometimes there are times when you want to use your heart and fight with your heart. I didnít do that. I stayed nice and focused and I just stuck to my game plan. There were times when I though should I go after this guy, but I didnít. I still stuck back and took my time.
JENNA: Well Amir, we just have a couple of more questions before we let you off the line, and this one involves where you go next. Do you think with the success Maidana had against you in the later rounds that you should give him a rematch?
KHAN: A rematch? If for some reason we ever did have a rematch it would be a lot more convincing and a lot easier. Iím one of those fighters that when I look at myself and I see myself, I look at the mistakes I made. I never look at the good things. I always look at the bad things. I love working on my bad points. I just see in every fight Iím getting better and better. I would have a rematch, but there are other fights out there that could be bigger fights, like the winner of Timothy Bradley and Alexander. So Iíve beaten Maidana now. Iíve settled the score there. People have said Amir Khan has no chin and he canít take a punch. I took his best shots, not once, not twice, but a few times in the fight. What else do I have to do? I fought against my mandatory, I fought a guy who was a dangerous opponent in my division and I beat him. What else does Amir Khan have to prove? There are going to always be criticisms that people are going to say heís not fighting anyone, Amir Khan canít take a shot, but all Iím doing is Iím fighting whoever they put in front of me, and whoever Golden Boy puts in front of me next Iíll fight.
JENNA: Alright now you just said that maybe youíd like to fight the winner of Alexander-Bradley. There has also been some talk you could potentially fight Zab Judah next somewhere around March. When do you think you will return to the ring and against who?
KHAN: Yeah around March or April I think is a good date for me, but I want to take a nice holiday now. Iím going to go abroad and spend time with family and friends and enjoy Christmas and New Yearís. I would also like to wish everyone a Happy New Year and a Merry Christmas as well, but yeah I just want to take my time and relax a little bit and keep my mind off boxing. Itís been a long, long time really. It was a ten week training camp and it was a tough fight, so Iím going to relax a little now and take my mind off everything and Iíll know when Iíll be ready for the next fight. Iíll be speaking to Golden Boy in the next few days to see what date they think I should do and weíll take it from there.
JENNA: Amir during the fight you had a passionate crowd. It was an amazing atmosphere with a lot of your fans that came over from the UK to watch you. Is there anything you want to say to those fans and the supporters that you have?
KHAN: You know I love all of my fans and I make so much time for them. After the fight I stopped over at the hotel and I took pictures with them and even though my hand was hurting and I had a bit of soreness on my head, I still make time for my fans because they always make time for me. I appreciate all of my fans around the world. I know a lot of them couldnít make it to this fight with it being in Vegas and a lot of my fans are from the UK, but Iím sure I won a lot of US fans over and Iím sure now theyíre going to start supporting and start knowing who Amir Khan is. All I want to do is I want to be a great sportsman. Boxing is a sport, and I want to bring great fights to America, I want to bring great fights to the UK, and Iíve got a great start to do that. I want to keep everyone tuned in and in the next few years there are going to be some big super fights and I want to keep everyone entertained.
JENNA: Well Amir, itís been an absolute pleasure having you on our radio program. I definitely have to say youíve earned some new fans over in America for the way you fought. You certainly impressed me with the guts you showed this past weekend, so thank you again for the interview and we wish you all the best in your future.
KHAN: Thank you very much, speak to you soon!
CIANI: Thank you, Amir. Good luck.
For those interested in listening to the Amir Khan interview in its entirety, it begins approximately one hour and twenty-seven minutes into the program.
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Article posted on 16.12.2010
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