Amir Khan reflects on childhood and his desire to fight
Amir Khan was an 8-year-old when he first walked into a boxing gym, being introduced to the sport by his father, Shah.
“When I walked into the gym for the first time, you could hear the bags being punched,” said Khan, a 2004 Olympic silver medalist. “You could smell the heat and the sweat and the blood and stuff. It felt like home to me. I was like, ‘Wow, I love this place.'”
Khan (29-3, 19 knockouts) will take three consecutive wins into his Dec. 13 clash of former titleholders with Devon Alexander (26-2, 14 KOs) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas to be televised on Showtime.
Khan’s last setbacks were by consecutive split decision and fourth-round knockout to Lamont Peterson and Danny Garcia in December 2011 and July 2012. Khan’s first loss was a 54-second stoppage loss to Breidis Prescott in September 2008.
In his last fight in May, Khan, 27, made his 147-pound debut with a one-sided unanimous decision over former titleholder Luis Collazo, whom he floored three times in support of the Floyd Mayweather-Marcos Maidana rematch.
Khan had been out of the ring for more than a year prior to the Collazo fight, last being in action for a unanimous decision over two-time lightweight titleholder Julio Diaz in April 2013. Before facing Diaz, Khan had rebounded from the Garcia loss with a 10th-round stoppage of Carlos Molina in December 2012.
Alexander is coming off a unanimous decision victory over Jesus Soto Karass in June. Alexander, 27, had previously faced seven current or past world titleholders in nine fights, a run that includes decision victories over two of Argentina’s most devastating punchers, Maidana and Lucas Matthysse.
Alexander’s only losses are to two-division titlist Timothy Bradley and former IBF titleholder Shawn Porter.
Khan had won won eight consecutive fights, four of them by knockout, before falling to Peterson.
POWER PUNCHER RANDALL BAILEY: ‘ALL I’M ASKING FOR IS A SHOT’
Welterweight Randall Bailey is in a difficult situation as an aging, dangerous fighter without a belt.
“That’s three strikes,” said Bailey, a Miami-based power-puncher who turned 40 in September. “That’s exactly what it is, basically. That’s why no one wants to fight me.”
A two-time titleholder who is managed by Si Stern, Bailey (44-8, 37 knockouts) has been inactive since November 2013, when he won by disqualification over Humberto Toledo. Prior to facing Toledo, Bailey had been dethroned via unanimous decision loss to southpaw Devon Alexander in October 2012.
Bailey said that Stern has inquired unsuccessfully about fights opposite Manny Pacquiao, Amir Khan, Keith Thurman, Andre Berto, Errol Spence Jr. and undefeated Chicago-based welterweight Frederick Lawson.
“I have a great manager,” said Bailey, who is known for his vaunted right hand. “My manager is Si Stern, who has been helping me out [financially,] so I really can’t complain about nothing.”
Mike Jones might represent exhibits A, B and C as well as X, Y and Z as to why Bailey has a hard time finding an opponent.
Trailing on the cards, Bailey dropped the previously unbeaten Jones once each in the 10th and final rounds of an 11th-round stoppage for the IBF’s vacant welterweight title in June 2012. Jones had an unsuccessful return to the ring in August, being beaten bloody during a seventh-round knockout loss to unheralded Jaime Herrera.
“Look, I know what dangers I present and I know about the damage that I can do but again, this is boxing. We all know the risks when we get into this sport,” said Bailey.
“So I don’t understand how promoters can promote fighters that can’t get into the ring with certain guys because this guy might be a little bit better than that guy or this guy hits too hard. I just don’t understand that.”
Bailey did say, however, that he will be watching on Dec. 13 when Khan fights Alexander in a welterweight clash of former titleholders on Showtime with support from Thurman opposite Leonard Bundu in a clash of unbeatens at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. He’ll also be paying close attention when two-division titlist Tim Bradley fights Diego Chaves in an HBO-televised 147-pound bout at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
“It’s not going to be hard because, first of all, I’m a big fan of boxing…So at this point, I’m going to watch the fight just as a fan. I like both guys, ain’t no hard feelings,” said Bailey.
“But there is a bitter taste in my mouth because a lot of those guys, they just won’t get into the ring with me. So it’s just like boxing is in a different state right now, not like it was back in the day and I really don’t understand it.”
The win over Jones represented Bailey’s fourth straight victory, having previously suffered defeat by 11th-round stoppage against Juan Urango in a failed bid to earn the IBF’s junior welterweight belt in August of 2009.
In victory over Jones, Bailey earned his first title since a first-round knockout of Carlos Gonzalez to win the WBO junior welterweight crown in May of 1999. Bailey’s record at the time was 18-0, all by stoppage, and he has become known for the concussive, lights-out power in his right hand.
The win over Gonzalez marked Bailey’s 13th first-round knockout, after which he successfully defended his belt twice to improve to 20-0, all by knockout, before losing the title to Ener Julio by split decision in July of 2000.
Bailey went to 24-1 with 24 knockouts with a third-round knockout of Demetrio Ceballos in February of 2002 but was stopped for the first time in his next bout by Diosbelys Hurtado.
“I just turned a young 40 and I’m not an old 40 because I haven’t taken a lot of punishment,” said Bailey. “I’ve got losses but they were decent losses and I was never beaten up. Just give me a shot, man. That’s all I’m asking for is a shot.”
ALEXEY ZUBOV SIGNS WITH STAR OF DAVID PROMOTIONS
Undefeated Russian cruiserweight Alexey Zubov (6-0, 4 KOs) has signed with Dmitriy Salita of Star of David Promotions and the right-hander will be in action on Jan. 22 at Webster Hall in Manhattan.
“Alexey is one of the best prospects in boxing. He has the skills, size and work ethic to be a cruiserweight and heavyweight champion,” said Salita of the nearly 6-foot-3 Zubov.
“The invaluable experience he gained as an elite amateur will help him progress quickly in the pros. I am confident that Alexey’s aggressive style will make him very popular amongst boxing fans and in New York’s Russian community.”
Zubov, 28, won his first four bouts by stoppage, his first three in the first round. Zubov is coming off last month’s unanimous decision over Isroil Qurbonov.
GOLDEN BOY HIRES PUBLCIST CECILIA ZUNIGA
Golden Boy Promotions has hired Cecilia Zuniga as the organization’s public relations manager, the company announced on Monday.
A native of San Gabriel Valley, Calif., Zuniga will work closely with fighters and media to fulfill requests and promote all of Golden Boy Promotions’ fights and activities.