Amir Khan: Being dumped on my backside was a blessing in disguise

Amir Khan says he has one man in particular to thank for the turnaround in his career which sees him preparing for the third defence of his world light-welterweight crown, to be announced in Manchester.

That man is not Freddie Roach, the trainer under whose guidance Khan has blossomed since he moved to Los Angeles two years ago.

Nor is it Manny Pacquaio, the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world and the fighter Khan aspires to become.

Amir Khan is knocked out by Breidis Prescott

Wake up call: Amir Khan is knocked out by Breidis Prescott during their Commonwealth light-weight title fight in Manchester

The moment the 24-year-old from Bolton pinpoints as the defining point in his career came when he was dumped on the canvas after just 54 seconds of a fight in Manchester more than two years ago.

And the man Khan now credits with propelling him in the right direction is his conqueror from that night, Breidis Prescott.

‘I got my backside kicked that night and it changed everything,’ said Khan, whose opponent for his latest title defence is expected to be Belfast’s Paul McCloskey.

‘Before then, I trained on my own and everyone treated me like I was the dog’s b******s.

‘Nobody ever told me I was doing anything wrong but, looking back, I was doing a great deal of things wrong, including my diet and the way I lived my life. I thought I was better than I was.’

His decision to move to Los Angeles and train with Roach has clearly been the making of him.

‘Back in Bolton everyone looked up to me, but in LA, with the likes of Manny Pacquaio in the gym, I look up to everyone else. Freddie works me hard, I live like a monk out there and you can see what’s happened to my career since.

Amir Khan

Back on top: WBA light welterweight champion Amir Khan celebrates his victory over Argentina's Marcos Maidana in December

‘A lot of fighters don’t come back from a defeat as heavy as the one Prescott handed out to me. I’m proud that I have and there’s no doubt that the loss was a blessing in disguise.

‘I’d like to thank Prescott for the lesson he forced me to learn. He did me a huge favour that night. I’d love to fight him again, because I’ve fought every boxer who beat me in my amateur career and avenged each defeat, but he’s slipped off the radar.’

The ghosts of that harrowing defeat by the explosive Colombian were, so Khan believes, laid to rest on December 11 when he withstood immense pressure from Marcos Maidana, including a major wobble in the 10th round, to emerge as the unanimous victor after 12 gruelling rounds.

‘I won’t lie to you, it really preyed on my mind when I read and heard all the doubters who wondered whether I had a chin after the Prescott fight,’ he said.

‘I don’t think there should be any doubts now, though. You don’t want too many fights like the one against Maidana in a career, but you need a few and I’ve emerged much the better for the experience, convinced of my own ability.

‘I’ve watched the fight a lot since and at times it resembles the boxing in the Rocky films. I wanted to prove to the world that I could fight and take a punch.’

Still, he is mature enough now to bide his time before taking on Floyd Mayweather at welterweight in the next stage of his masterplan over the next four years before quitting at 28.

WBA super lightweight champion Amir Khan

Growing up: Amir Khan has matured since his defeat to Breidis Prescott

Khan said: ‘First comes the fight in April, then the unification of the light-welterweight division in the summer and then, hopefully, a move up to welterweight with the fight against Mayweather taking place next year. I want to be ready for him and that means another 12-15 months of development.

‘After I’ve beaten Mayweather and defended my welterweight crown a few times, there would be just one final goal to achieve — to become world light-middleweight champion.

‘I reckon it will take four years to achieve this and become the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world. Then I’ll quit, after just one fight at that weight.’

It means no fight against Pacquaio — ‘I couldn’t punch Manny, he’s been too good a friend, teacher and mentor to me to do that’ — and plenty of time to pursue his other passions in life.

Apart from his beloved Bolton Wanderers FC, that primarily means charitable work.

He already provides a haven at his Gloves Community Centre for youngsters in Bolton who may end up in trouble on the streets, and Khan’s latest cause is also very close to home.

The floods that ravaged Pakistan last summer moved Khan when he visited last autumn. ‘That’s why I’m pledging to build two new schools out of money I’ve helped raise and will ensure it happens, no matter how long it takes,’ he said.

  • The Pakistan Flood Appeal’s Night of Entertainment is at De Vere Whites, Bolton, on January 23. Contact or 01204 535 332 for details.


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