In the final HBO telecast of 2011, Amir
“King” Khan 26-1 (18) will look to showcase his skills whilst
defending his WBA/IBF light welterweight titles against his IBF mandatory
challenger Lamont Peterson. It could be the last fight for Khan at 140 before
he invades the welterweight division sometime in 2012. Khan, who turns
25 two days before the Peterson fight, has made it common knowledge that
he wants to fight the very best fighters in the world. First, he has to
get past the talented Peterson, 29-1-1 (15), in a fight taking place in Washington D.C which isn’t just Peterson’s hometown
but also has a large Muslim population. Here’s what Khan had to say on various
subjects when we caught up with him.
Anson Wainwright – Firstly, it looks like you are back
in action on 10 December against
Lamont Peterson. What are your thoughts and comments on that fight?
Amir Khan - It will be very exciting because we are both
fighters who come to fight and have big hearts. Lamont Peterson was the
mandatory for my IBF world title and I know he is one of the best in the
division so I’m going to be ready come December 10.
Peterson is a very physical fighter and he has a good style but I’m sure my
speed and power will help me to win this fight. When I prepare, I prepare for
the full 12 rounds and this is what I’m going to be doing for this fight
because I can’t look past Peterson – there’s no doubt I’ll be ready to put on a
show against one of the best in my division.
AW - What do you think of Peterson? What do you think his
strengths are and what weaknesses do you see?
AK - As I say, I think he has a good style, is strong and
a physical fighter. In his fight with Victor Ortiz, he showed tremendous heart
to come back to get a draw because he was basically out of the fight – I think
that comeback says a lot about him and what qualities he has. Also, the fight
will be in Washington, so he will have his home fans behind
him but that doesn’t bother me because I’m not scared of fighting any fighter
anywhere – even if it’s in his own backyard. A lot of my fans will be making
the trip to Washington so he
might get a big surprise when he enters the arena on December 10!
AW - Last time, we saw you beat Zab Judah. You won pretty
comfortably, ending matters in the fifth round with a body shot. Looking back,
what do you think of that fight and how happy were you with your performance?
AK - I was very happy with the performance I put on that
night. I think it just showed how much I have improved since coming out to LA.
Right from when the bell rang to start the first round, [Judah] couldn’t deal
with my jab and speed and that was crucial to me winning the fight in such a
convincing way. I won every round against one of the top guys in the light welterweight
division and claimed another world title, so I was delighted with that.
AW - You've been with Freddie Roach since 2008. In your
opinion, what improvements has he made to your game? How much do you feel
you've improved since going over to train with Freddie Roach at the Wild Card?
AK - I’m a completely different fighter since joining
Freddie. The way I eat, train, prepare, everything, really. For me, it’s a
privilege to be training with Freddie Roach and he has taken the qualities I
had and refined them and made me the fighter I am now. I can’t say it’s just
one specific area where I’ve improved because it’s all-around. I moved up to
140 pounds from 135 pounds when I was with Freddie and felt so much more
comfortable at the weight – I’m not killing myself to make weight anymore which
has made me stronger when fight night comes around.
AW - You're back now with strength-and-conditioning coach
Alex Ariza. Can you tell us a bit about your relationship and how good at the
strength and conditioning he is from your point of view?
AK - Me and Alex get on very well and he is one of the
best conditioning coaches in the world. Alex has been crucial in helping me get
ready for my fights and he pushes me all the way in training so when the fight
comes around I’m ready for the full 12 rounds. When I’m in LA, I’m training
morning and afternoon and Alex is always there, so naturally, we have become
AW - You've unified the WBA and IBF titles. What other
goals do you have in boxing? How many weight classes do you believe you can successfully
AK - I want to move up to welterweight after I face
Lamont Peterson and think I can go up to super welterweight in time. I’m
naturally big at 140 pounds but I think I have the physique to move up and
still carry my power and speed. My aim is to win multiple world titles at
different weight divisions. I’ve always said that was my goal. I don’t duck any
fighter or hide from anyone. I want the biggest challenges and the biggest
names to prove how good I really am.
AW - You won a silver medal at the 2004 Olympics. From
your point of view, what was it like fighting at such a prestigious event as
the Olympics and what did it mean to you to bring back a silver medal?
AK - It was very special and it was always an aim of mine
to bring back a medal for Britain, especially
as I was the only boxing representative from the UK. My performance in the Games had a huge
impact on my career and helped me get noticed by millions of people. Since then,
I’ve never been able to walk down the streets without signing an autograph or
someone asking for a picture!
AW - Your brother, Haroon, is still in the amateurs. I
believe there is a problem in that he can't represent Pakistan at
the World Championships and this may impact him fighting in the 2012 Summer Olympics
AK – Well, obviously, someone must have complained that
Haroon boxed for England in 2009 as a youth but he became a
Pakistani national in 2010 when he got his Pakistani passport. That’s why he
represented Pakistan in the
Commonwealth Games in 2010 and won a bronze medal.
AW - What did you think of the Floyd Mayweather-Victor
AK - I think Victor was a bit naive and should have
protected himself. He headbutted Floyd to start with, so Floyd was obviously
angry about that but when [referee] Joe Cortez told them to box on, he should
have had his guard up and protected himself. In the ring, you can’t do what he
did and I’m sure he’s annoyed with himself the way he got caught because as
fighters, we’re told to protect ourselves at all times.
AW – Obviously, you train and spar with Manny Pacquiao. That
must be a tremendous experience for you. Can you tell us about these
AK - Manny is the best in the world and one day, I hope
to emulate him. Training with him and seeing how he prepares has been brilliant
for me because he is a very unique fighter. I will be training alongside him
for my next camp and hope to pick up a few more tips that I can use going
forward in my career. Out of the ring, he’s just a generally nice guy and since
day one, he has always been approachable and easy to talk to. That’s what I
like about him.
AW - So far in your career, what do you consider your
best performance and who do you consider your toughest opponent?
AK - My best performance was probably
beating Andriy Kotelnik for the WBA light welterweight world title and Zab
Judah for the IBF world title. I don’t think I lost a round in either of those
fights and managed to become a world champion and unified world champion in
those bouts. Kotelnik was a good fight. Although I won every round, he was a
pressure fighter and has a lot of skills and never went down.
AW – Finally, do you have a message for the boxing
AK - Keep supporting me. 2012 will be an even big year
for Amir Khan, so stay tuned!