Q&A: Amir Khan
On May 7, welterweight contender Amir Khan will travel eight pounds north into a catchweight fight against THE RING magazine and WBC middleweight champ Canelo Alvarez. The HBO Pay Per View event, which may take place at the new T Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, was met by a passionate mix of surprise, intrigue and derision.
Most of the criticism of the matchup has to do with the size disparity between Alvarez and the former WBA/IBF 140-pound titleholder.
Khan (30-3, 19 knockouts), THE RING’s No. 3-rated welterweight, understands the concerns but believes that he build his tall and rangy frame to the contracted 155-pound catchweight.
“People need to know that I’m not going to eat up or simply move up to 155,” said the 29-year-old native of Bolton, England (of Pakistani descent). “I’m going to train up to 155.”
Khan, a 2004 Olympic silver medalist, had targeted Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao in recent years but was unable to land a bout against either future hall of famer.
“It’s good to show that I want to fight the best fighters in the world,” he told RingTV.com. “All fighters should be looking at my situation of fighting the best. If I’m seeking to fight the best, so should other fighters be fighting the best. I’m not ducking anyone.
“People around the boxing world are saying Amir Khan has some balls going up in weight. It’s nice to catch fans by surprise with a fight of this magnitude.”
Khan recently spoke to RingTV.com’s Dominic Verdin about the mega-matchup.
RingTV.com – This fight between you and Canelo was unexpected and set Twitter on fire after its announcement. Some fans are praising the fight, others are calling it a mismatch, but it has our attention. Why is that?
Amir Khan – I believe this fight between Canelo and I is getting more attention than a Mayweather-Pacquiao fight. The hype for this fight has just been unexpected. No one knew of this fight taking place or of any negotiations taking place. When the fight was announced, no one knew how react to this fight or to even believe it was happening. People around the boxing world are saying Amir Khan has some balls going up in weight. It’s nice to catch fans by surprise with a fight of this magnitude.
RTV – The best should fight the best.
AK – It’s good to show that I want to fight the best fighters in the world. All fighters should be looking at my situation of fighting the best. If I’m seeking to fight the best, so should other fighters be fighting the best. I’m not ducking anyone. This is a massive test for me. Supposedly, I’m scared to fight Kell Brook and here I am fighting a guy like Canelo Alvarez.
RTV – In the past you were seeking bouts with the likes of Mayweather and Pacquaio and they never materialized. Why? And now you’re taking on a dangerous fighter in Canelo Alvarez. Please explain?
AK – The reason why Mayweather and Pacquaio did not want any part of me was because I was too dangerous for them. They felt that Amir was gonna make them look bad. They are beatable and I have the tools to beat them at my weight. Canelo is going to be a much tougher fight for me. The fight and the weight against Mayweather would have been fair and a fight I would have won. Now I have a real challenge in front me against Canelo. It’s only making me train harder than ever. I’m finally getting my break I need to prove how good I am by beating Canelo Alvarez. Mayweather or Pacquaio wouldn’t give me that opportunity. This is my goal to be at the top.
RTV – How on earth was this fight kept air tight with no strong sources spreading any rumors?
AK – Oscar and I were talking, and he mentioned a fight between Alvarez and I. I told Oscar “break the fight down because you know there will be many to say this is a mismatch or that I will get knocked out.” If you think about the fight: stylistically it has the makings for a great fight. I honestly believe I can beat this guy. Everybody acts like he’s an unstoppable machine and are afraid to fight him. I am not scared to fight him and I am not going to go in there with respect. I’m going in there to beat the fight guy. I am normally the favorite in all my fights. I’m coming in as the underdog and it’s only making me hungrier.
RTV – Were there ever any real negotiations for a Kell Brook fight?
AK – We talked about the possibility about a Kell Brook fight but it seemed to me they were just bluffing. When it came down to sign they didn’t want the fight. They wanted an easy fight. And it just proves to the world that Amir Khan will fight anybody and I am not afraid of anyone.
RTV – In your wildest dreams did you ever imagine to be in the position that you are in now, fighting for the lineal middleweight championship of the world?
AK – I knew one day I’d be fighting as a middleweight. I have the height and the frame. I remember having a dream that by the end of boxing career I would be three-weight world champion, and this is my time where I could and will win the middleweight championship. I haven’t won a welterweight championship so there is unfinished business there to be handled but that doesn’t mean I will drop back down to welter. Not too many fighters get this chance. I do know I am going to make history in this fight.
RTV – Why does this fight carry entertainment value?
AK – You have two big names in boxing. I’m big in the Middle East, the UK, Asia and Europe. Alvarez is huge in America and Mexico and you have two big superstars fighting each other and you don’t get that very often. That’s why there is so much excitement in this fight. You have two big names not scared to fight each other, we both come to fight, we are both young and in our prime.
RTV – With the retirement of Floyd Mayweather Jr. and the pending departure of Manny Pacquaio is this the right time to make a bold move?
AK – Someone has to take that spot and once I beat Canelo Alvarez I will be the top guy in the world boxing. This is my time and this my year. I’m in my prime in my career, I’m at my peak, at my best, mentally and physically. This is my time to shock the world. People will understand as to why Mayweather and Pacquaio did not want this fight. They will see that Amir Khan is one of the best fighters in the world.
RTV – It’ll be close to one year since you last stepped inside the squared ring, when you defeated Chris Algieri by decision. Will you be able to shake off the ring rust? Will the speed, the agility and mobility carry well with the heavier weight?
AK – I think I will be in better condition. I have been sparring with bigger guys. I feel much stronger not having to cut too much weight. I feel happy, not dehydrated. This is only going to bring out the best of me. I’ve kept myself busy in between fights. Staying sharp, correcting mistakes inside the ring and improving each day with my boxing days. People need to know I’m not going to eat up or simply move up to 155. I’m going to train up to 155.
RTV – Your contract does not stipulate any hydration clause (limiting the amount of weight Alvarez can put on after the weigh-in) of any kind. Do you or your team have any concerns about how much Canelo will rehydrate?
AK – My boxing skills will win this fight. Weight will not win this fight. Canelo may come in about 10 pounds heavier than me but I’m not concern about his weight. My speed and athleticism will be the key the factors to winning this fight. Staying focused throughout the fight.
RTV – Walk us through the game plan.
AK – You haven’t seen the best of Amir Khan yet. I can cause many problems. On May 7 you will see me against Canelo at my best.
RTV – If victorious over Alvarez would you defend your titles against Gennady Golovkin or drop back down in weight?
AK – It all depends what options are available. I wouldn’t drop those titles immediately after such a big victory. I’m not one of those guys that wants to give it away. If I’m taking a fight with Canelo it is because I have the skills, the movement, the speed and the power. Canelo hasn’t seen anything like me. I’m ready for anyone. I’m not afraid to fight anyone.
RTV – What do you say when fight fans say that you’re simply taking this fight for a big payday?
AK – I could have made more against Kell Brook. But I see something in Canelo I can beat and by beating Canelo I can achieve something special. This victory will have the people around the world see greatness in me.
RTV – I saw an interview with Freddie Roach and in this interview your former trainer said that it’s possible that you can pull off the upset. Your thoughts?
AK – Well, with Freddie training Miguel Cotto for the Alvarez fight maybe he saw something in his fight with Alvarez that a younger guy like myself can expose. Freddie spent five years with me so he knows me and he is one of the best trainers in the world. It’s not only him, there are many other fighters and trainers who say I can beat Alvarez.
RTV – Mayweather-Pacquaio and Canelo-Cotto were the biggest fights in 2015. Will Canelo-Khan be the biggest fight of 2016?
AK – My fight with Canelo Alvarez will be the biggest fight of the year, including the biggest upset of the year. And when I beat Canelo people around the world will say “Wow, we never did expect to see such an upset.”
AK – I also want to thank my team, Al Haymon, Golden Boy Promotions, Oscar De La Hoya and HBO.
RTV – Any final words for your fans and the fans of this fight?
AK – It’s going to be an exciting fight. People should tune into this fight. This fight will be talked for years. I will beat Canelo Alvarez, I’ll be making history, I will be ready, he will be a ready. I’m looking forward to the UK and Britain taking over Vegas. That’s how we like to do it. The UK will come in strong and will not fail me and I will not fail them. The upset will happen and thank you to all may fans that will witness the truth come May 7.