Amir Khan: ďI think Floyd Mayweather will avoid me like heís avoiding Manny Pacquiao and other fighters out thereĒ
by Geoffrey Ciani (Exclusive Interview by Jenna J & Geoffrey Ciani) - Last weekís 137th edition of On the Ropes Boxing Radio (brought to you by CWH Promotions) featured an exclusive interview with the reigning unified WBA/IBF junior welterweight champion of the world Amir ďKingĒ Khan (26-1, 18 KOs) who is coming off a very impressive fifth round knockout victory against ďSuperĒ Zab Judah (41-7, 28 KOs). Amir spoke about his victory and his future and touched on a wide variety of subjects including Timothy Bradley, Floyd Mayweather versus Victor Ortiz, Robert Guerrero versus Marcos Maidana, Erik Morales versus Lucas Matthysse, moving up to welterweight, the Super Six Finals matchup between Carl Froch and Andre Ward, Wladimir Klitschkoís victory against David Haye, and more! Here is a complete transcript from that interview:
JENNA J: I do believe it is time for our final guest of this weekís show. He is making his seventh appearance with On the Ropes. Weíre joined by the unified WBA/IBF junior welterweight champion of the world, Amir ďKingĒ Khan. How is everything going today Amir?
AMIR KHAN: Everything is going really well. You know Iím back in England now in my hometown Bolton just relaxing. Iím just catching up on time with my family and friends really. Iíve been away in America for such a long time, so itís always nice to come back and see my family and friends and also itís the month of Ramadan so Iím fasting. Iím fasting at the moment so hopefully Iím just enjoying that as well and in the next couple of days Iím going to do my pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia. Iíll be there for two weeks so that will be nice for me. That will be like a holiday for me to go over there and do that, and then Iíll come back and hopefully then weíll know we where we are especially with opponents for the next fight.
JENNA: Awesome, well you came back to England with a new trinket. You have the IBF title. Can you tell us a little bit about your fight that you had last month against Zab Judah?
KHAN: Yeah I fought Zab Judah in Vegas. It was a good fight. He was the IBF champion, I was the WBA champion, and it was a unification in the 140 pound division. You know Zab is a very tricky fighter, a southpaw, quick, and the fight went on and I won with a fifth round KO. It was a body shot that won me the fight. I was happy with the performance and the way things went, and it was a big step up for me in experience because Zabís a very experienced fighter and also coming off a good win against Mabuza and picking up the IBF title and also with his new trainer Pernell Whitaker who in a way I think made him a better fighter. Heís come down to 140 again and I think it was a big test for both of us really, and I came out the winner of that fight and hopefully Iíll move onto bigger and better things now.
JENNA: Alright well last time we had you on you were discussing the fight and you expected it to be the toughest one of your career, but you actually had a pretty easy night. Were you at all surprised with how easily you got it done?
KHAN: Well you know, we knew we would train hard and I knew if I stuck to the game the fight would be easy and thatís all I did. I stuck to the game plan, didnít make any mistakes, and went in there and won it in good style. I didnít really get hit much. I got caught a few times in the fight and thatís just boxing for you, but it was a good performance from me and it didnít take a lot out of me.
JENNA: Okay well you mentioned before that when you get done with your pilgrimage that you will have an idea of maybe who you will be fighting, because there are two fights that will be coming up. You have Robert Guerrero against Marcos Maidana and you also have Erik Morales versus Lucas Matthysse in September. Out of either of those fights, do you have a particular preference as to what opponent you would like to face?
KHAN: You know the Guerrero and Maidana fight, my views are in that fight there Maidana is just going to go in there and be the bigger man and win the fight. Heíll beat Guerrero and after quite a bad performance against Morales I think heíd like to prove something. So I give that fight to Maidana and I think to myself, do I have to fight Maidana again because Iíve already beaten him? There wouldnít be a new title. Do I want to fight someone? What do I got to gain? Iíve already beaten the guy! Also there is no motivation in that fight, but looking on the other hand Erik Morales if fighting against Lucas Matthysse. You got two names there who are good fighters. Also the WBC title is on the line. So there is another title to pick up, so there is something to get from the fight. Also if Erik Morales wins I think that will be a good fight for me because heís a big name, he sells more tickets than Maidana, and like I said thereís a title on the line. Even if itís Matthysse, itís someone I have not boxed and someone I have not beaten and I think Iíll take that fight. The best option Iím more looking at the Morales fight against Matthysse.
I think that could be the fight in December for me because we all know that Bradley just doesnít want to fight me. He doesnít come to the table to take the fight on. I mean the WBC has stripped Bradley of the title and I think that looks really, really bad to be stripped of a title because he doesnít want to face me. I think the reason for that is because he knows heíll get beat. So he can keep on running and maybe for twelve months heíll be out of the game, and heís at that age now where he needs to stay active. You know heís 27! This is the best time for him. This is the prime time for him. If heís only fighting once a year I think thatís quite bad for someone at his age. But thatís what weíre doing. Hopefully by the time I get back from my pilgrimage Iíll be still in England when the fight against Morales and Matthysse, and Maidana and Guerrero happens. So it will be good just to see who wins them. I mean if it happens to be Maidana again Iíll go back in there and beat him again. I mean Iím not a fighter whoís scared. Iím the only fighter probably in the 140 pound division whoís fighting everyone. Iím fighting the best. I mean I called our Bradley. Zab Judah no one would fight and I went in there and took that fight. I wanted to fight Marquez before Manny fought him and he turned it down. Morales turned it down before, so there is a 50-50 chance he might turn it down again. We donít know. So itís quite hard for me to get fights in this division. Also Peterson was another name who is also my mandatory for my IBF title, so Iíd be happy to take him on but he turned it down last time so I really think heíll turn it down again. This leaves me in a really bad position because not many fighters want to face me, and I think there will come a time when I have to move up to 147. I think that will happen early next year.
JENNA: Alright! Well Amir weíre also on the line with my Co-Host Geoff Ciani.
GEOFFREY CIANI: Hi Amir. Itís a great pleasure to have you back on the show and congratulations on your victory.
KHAN: Thank you very much.
CIANI: Back to your fight with Judah, what was it about your style that you think gave Judah so much trouble that you were able to dominate him, an A-level talent, like heís never been dominated before?
KHAN: I think it was the speed and the game plan that we had set in that fight. I mean Freddie told me always to move from my left and stay away from his back hand. He likes looping big back hands in, and just jab over his jab and use a lot of feints and just take him out of his game plan. I mean Zab Judah normally starts quick in the first few rounds, and if we started a little bit quicker than him that would totally dishearten him and frustrate him. I could see after four rounds that was happening. Thatís why we went into the fifth and applied more and more pressure on him because we knew he was very frustrated. Freddie gave me a game plan in that fight which I followed. I think the speed took everything away from him as well and it just made that fight a lot easier.
CIANI: Now before you mentioned how you have a lack of options at 140 pounds and that you might be looking to 147 because nobody at 140 wants to fight you. But another angle on this is a lot of people have said the rumor is that youíre starting to have more problems making 140, and Iím wondering if thatís true and if you felt comfortable at 140 in the Judah fight?
KHAN: Yeah you know I felt comfortable at the weight. I mean I look big at the weight and we trained very hard. The most Iíve ever gone up to in walking around weight is probably 150, ten pounds above the weight. I like to stay around ten pounds over before I start a training camp. Yeah you know at times it does get hard to make the weight because Iím always lean and Iím always in shape. I think my natural weight would be 147, but I think if I want to be 147 I want to walk around at 155 probably just so Iím not too small for the weight. But 140 is an ideal weight for me. Maybe the last two or three pounds are tough to lose, but at the end of the day Iím a very disciplined fighter. If I have to make 140, Iíll make 140. If I have to make 135, I mean Iíd kill myself to make that 135. Iíve always made weight one the scales. Iíve never gone over. Thatís just how disciplined I am.
CIANI: Now if you could choose your own path, and if all the opponents out there were willing. If you said Timothy Bradley and heíd face or if you said somebody else, who would you most want to face next and at which weight class?
KHAN: Well you know Iíd like to face Bradley and take the titles off him. Then probably move up to 147 and face somebody like Berto or someone on the same level as Berto. There are a few big names at 147. Then maybe towards summer time or the end of the year next year Iíll face someone like Floyd Mayweather. At the same time you have to remember now Iím getting stronger and Iím getting more experience on my side. I got the youth behind me as well, whereas Floyd is getting older and a little bit slower so I think itís the best time to catch him.
JENNA: Alright Amir since weíre talking about future opponents, one we havenít mentioned yet is one that has an eliminator fight on September 10 against Paul McCloskey and thatís Breidis Prescott. Do you have any interest in having a rematch with him if somehow he comes out the winner in that match?
KHAN: First of all I really think McCloskey will beat him with that awkward style he carries in the fight, but yeah definitely! Iím not one to be scared of that fight. I mean I think we all know if that fight ever happened again there would be one winner, but there are so many big names now around the 140 pound division that I donít want to lose time and position where I can face them but then if I fight Prescott Iíll miss that chance in fighting them. There are bigger names out there for me that I want to face like Bradley and Morales. If I take the fight against Prescott and beat him, then maybe Morales might not be there again because someone else might beat him, or maybe he might move up in weight, or maybe he might retire. You never know. I know Prescott will always be there. Even if he retired I know heíd come out of retirement to take a fight with me again. I really think Iím one step ahead and on the next level ahead really. I mean it would be like taking a step back and fighting him, but Iím not one to say no. Iíd love that fight again and I know that itís a fight if it happened I would destroy him. I mean it would be one of them fights. If that fight is out there, and I know itís always going to be there, so thatís why Iím taking the fighters I want to fight first like Morales, and these other big names like Maidana, and I want to fight Bradley because these names might not be there again. Prescott will always be there.
JENNA: Now you say Prescott will always be there, but deep down do you ever have that need to avenge that loss just because of the way you were defeated in that match against Prescott?
KHAN: You know things happen for a reason and I really think that was for the best. I think I wouldnít be in this position if that didnít happen, but even if that fight didnít happen I think everyone knows that was a blessing in disguise, but you know Iíd love that fight. Iíd want to beat him and prove to everyone, look it was a mistake that I made and I paid for it and look how Iíve come back. Iíve come back faster and stronger. Yeah at the end of the day everyone messages me on Twitter and says they donít think I should fight him because Iím way past his league and stuff, but maybe thereís one thing in me where I want to avenge that defeat. So in the future that fight will happen.
JENNA: Alright well letís go back and talk about Timothy Bradley again. You know he had a promotional situation with Gary Shaw Promotions and that contract did run out, but why do you think heís been very quiet since then and hasnít even mentioned your name since you won your fight against Zab Judah?
KHAN: The whole truth behind it is Timothy Bradley is scared and he knows heíll get beat and heíll get destroyed if he ever fought me! If he goes on to get beaten by me then it will take away a fight between him and Mayweather or him and Pacquiao. Thatís the reason I really think he wants to cash in and he wants to avoid the big names who are coming up like myself and fight the big names because he knows maybe if he gets beat by Mayweather then heíll fight me. He thinks that fight still might be there, but Iíll tell you one thingóif he gets beat by someone like Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao before fighting me Iíll never take that fight with him, because I want to fight him now while heís at his best and while heís at his prime and undefeated. I want to prove that Iím the guy to take his zero and I want to beat him. If he doesnít want to fight me now then that fight will never happen because I mean in my eyes heís running scared. He knows Iíll beat him 100%. If he had confidence in beating me he would have taken the fight a long time ago, but he was calling me out knowing that I had other names, and itís like the Prescott situation.
Itís like him calling me out and stuff because he knows I have other names Iím looking at like Morales and like Guerrero. Itís the same thing Bradley was doing. Bradley was calling me out before when I had the McCloskey fight and I had the Maidana fight. As soon as I got past those fights and I said yeah okay! Iíll take up on the offer for the fight you want. He backed out! And look whatís happened with him talking so much and saying he wants to fight me and Iím scared and this and that, and now heís making himself look like a fool. He doesnít want the fight. I mean itís not good for boxing. It certainly takes away his credibility and whatever heís achieved in the sport. Even with the titles being stripped away from him, thatís an embarrassment in my eyes or in everyoneís eyes in boxing. If you understand the sport of boxing, to be stripped of a title because you donít want to fight your opposition, I mean itís a bad thing.
CIANI: Amir, being that youíve mentioned Floyd so often as a possible future opponent, Iím wondering, do you think somebody like Victor Ortiz is hungry enough and skilled enough to pull the upset against Floyd and were you at all surprised that Floyd actually chose him as his comeback opponent?
KHAN: Well we know Floyd likes to take the easy route and he never wants to fight anyone dangerous. I think fighting Victor Ortiz, I mean Victor in his last fight against Berto had a good performance. He was knocked down a few times and got back up, but the one before that against Peterson was kind of a bad performance. I think he sees flaws in that fight and he knows he can beat him. Thatís the reason Floydís taking that fight. Floyd handpicks his fights a lot. Heís been doing that all of his career, and heís done well with it as well. Thatís just him. Someone like myself next year who will be dangerous, I think Floyd Mayweather will avoid me like heís avoiding Manny Pacquiao and other fighters out there. I mean he never takes on dangerous fighters like myself, by taking on a Maidana and Bradley. He likes to go in and take the easy route and fight the easy names that he knows he can beat. At the end of the day you have to remember Victor Ortiz fought on my under cards twice. Maidana is the guy who beat him, and then he goes Victor Ortiz is the biggest challenge out there for him, which in my eyes there are bigger names out there who I know can take Mayweather and give him a tougher fight than Victor. At the end of the day Victorís a great guy and a great champion, and heís got a lot of respect from me. Iím good friends with him, but I think Mayweather is just taking an easy route.
CIANI: On another note, Iím curious to get your thoughts on another upcoming fight and thatís the Super Six Finals between Carl Froch and Andre Ward. What are your initial thoughts on that matchup coming up in October?
KHAN: Well you know I know Carl. We live in the same country. Weíre from England both of us, so Iím always backing the British fighters. Me and Carl are friends and I would think it would be a tough fight against Ward. Ward is very skillful. I remember Ward in the 2004 Olympic when he won the Gold Medal and he was a great fighter there. I think it will be a very technical fight. Ward will be hitting and moving and be hard to get hit, but with Carl Froch I think he has the power to hurt him. It will be a 50-50 fight. I think itís a great final. Itís a very good final thatís happening, and Iíll be one to be tuned in for that fight because I know both fighters. I know Carl a little bit better than I know Ward, but it will be a good fight and I think thatís what boxing needs. Boxing needs fights like this. You know you got Carl Froch and Ward who are both at the top of the division and you got people fighting each other! On the other hand youíve got Bradley and myself. Bradley was knocked off the first position to be put at number two because he didnít want to fight me. He was avoiding me. Heís scared. I mean this is not good for boxing. The best should fight the best to prove how good you are. I mean thatís why you box. Thatís why youíre out there in the sport of boxingóto prove how good you are. I mean there are some big fights coming on in the future and Iíll be watching them.
CIANI: You mentioned how you tend to back your fellow British fighters and how the sport needs these big fights. One of the big fights involving a British fighter was Wladimir Klitschko and David Haye in a heavyweight unification bout, and Iím wondering if you were at all disappointed as many British fans were by the effort put forth by David Haye.
KHAN: I think we were all disappointed that he lost. At the end of the day when youíre fighting such a big opponent and someone whoís very awkward, you donít want to get too close to him or too involved because heís got the power to put away anyone. I mean your game plan kind of goes out the window, and I think thatís what happened with David. I think Davidís game plan went out the window and he kind of went in there and he couldnít get his game plan going so he decided to do what he thought might work for him. But it didnít work against Klitschko. Klitschko went in the fight with smart moves and a smart game plan knowing that he was just going to stay away from Davidís big bombs and just hit him with a long jab. I think the jab is the punch that won him the fight. He had great tactics and was very smart in that fight and won the fight. I mean we were all disappointed he lost the fight, but he can still keep his chin up high. I mean he was a natural cruiserweight moving up to heavyweight and winning a world title and then taking on one of the most dangerous fighters in the world, one of the Klitschko brothers. I think it just shows David has a lot of heart and heís done great in the sport of boxing.
JENNA: Alright well Amir, we just have a few more questions before we let you off the line. You mentioned how some of the big names at 140 really donít want to face you, but do you see yourself wanting to stay in this weight class until you do get those opportunities so you can be the champion of this weight class before you leave it.
KHAN: I mean Iím praying. You know Iím praying. These people just do not want to fight me. Bradley just does not want to fight me and heís the only guy left who I want to beat before I move up. Heís not taking the fight. For me, Iím 24 and I want to keep on moving and fighting the best fighters. If he doesnít want to take a fight, then I want the world of boxing to know heís just a chicken and scared to take me on. Thatís the reason I want to move up to 147 and Iíll clean up in this division. I just have to carry on. At the end of the day Iím not waiting around for him. If he doesnít fight me in the 140 pound division than heís lost the chance to take me on, even at 147 I will never give him a big payday fight and weíll see where he goes from there.
JENNA: Alright now you mentioned 147 pounds a lot. If you do move up to that weight class, do you think you will need time to get accustomed to the weight before you take on a big matchup and also, if it is Floyd Mayweather Junior are you more or less waiting so he gets a little bit older so heís a little easier to beat?
KHAN: Iím not going to wait! I want to fight Floyd at his best really, so maybe after the next fight for Floyd could be me. So that just shows that I just want to fight Floyd. Maybe in between I might have one or two more fights because Floyd likes to stay out of the game a little bit longer, but Iím ready to fight Floyd even in his next fight. I mean after Victor Ortiz I might have to take him on.
JENNA: Looking forward to 2012, where do you want the fans to recognize you by the end of that year? Do you think you will be considered one of the best pound-for-pound in the world at that point?
KHAN: Definitely! I mean Iím climbing the pound-for-pound rankings slowly and I think Iím in the top ten. So yeah, definitely! Iím just going to keep on winning and keep on winning more fans over as well, especially in America. Weíve built a great fan base in England. Now itís all about going to America and building that fan base over there. With the three performances that Iíve had in America, which was against Paulie Malignaggi, Maidana, and Zab Judahótheyíve been great performances, and luckily weíve had HBO who has been broadcasting these big shows. So hopefully within the next twelve months I could see myself being a big star in America and a big name over there. I mean Iíve got a style that people love to watch. Iím explosive with strong power and speed. Iím just trying. Iím still young. Iím 24 and I just want to be the best fighter in the world pound-for-pound. So slowly Iím fighting the best out there and before you know it Iíll be at that position.
JENNA: Okay well Amir, itís a pleasure having you return to On the Ropes. We thank you for your time and weíre definitely looking forward to seeing who you take on in December.
KHAN: Thank you very much, much appreciated. It was great speaking to you all again. Thank you.
CIANI: Thanks Amir! Best of luck.
KHAN: Thank you very much.
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 15.08.2011
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