Sunday, December 03, 2023  |



Virgil Hunter compares Amir Khan to LeBron James, says speed unchanged

Fighters Network
Photo: Naoki Fukuda

Amir Khan lands on Chris Algieri in his win last May. Photo: Naoki Fukuda

When the matchup between Canelo Alvarez and Amir Khan was first announced, it was hyped as a clash between Khan’s speed versus Alvarez’s power.

Lost somewhat in the debate in the merits of the fight on May 7 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on HBO PPV was the question of whether Khan’s swiftness of foot and hand might be lessened as he rose in weight. The bout is for Alvarez’s RING and WBC middleweight titles at a catchweight of 155 pounds. Khan has never fought above 147 pounds.

But Khan’s trainer Virgil Hunter, who admits he initially was against the fight because of the size disparity, testified that Khan won’t be sluggish with the added pounds, comparing him to such gifted athletes as LeBron James and Bo Jackson.

“His speed has not been compromised at all, and I know it’s a lot of photos out there, outlets or public, make your own determination, weigh-in or during the fight, but he has not lost an iota of speed,” Hunter said on a conference call on Tuesday. “When you’re gifted with it like he is, you’ll grow with it. It’s no different than LeBron James being in high school touching the white square at 190 (pounds), and he still can do it at 230. It’s really not that much different than a sprinter, Bo Jackson running a 9.1 in the 200 and still doing it at 225. No, his speed hasn’t been compromised at all.”

Hunter and Khan discussed the pros and cons of taking the fight with Alvarez when it was presented to them. Khan was able to impress upon Hunter his willingness to train harder and be more focused against Alvarez because of the dangers involved.

“We had to think about it, because there’s always a bit of — we don’t want to walk into a fight and get hurt,” Khan said on Tuesday. “There’s a life after boxing, and I think that my thinking about this fight, and I think by me taking this fight, I think even Virgil probably understood and knew that I’m going to be more focused, and I know that I can’t make any mistakes against a guy like this.”

Khan admitted he’s gotten careless against fighters, such as Danny Garcia and Marcos Maidana at lower weight classes and has paid dearly for it. He was stopped by Garcia in 2012 in a junior welterweight unification match.

“I’ve made mistakes in the past against guys my own weight because I know naturally I’m more gifted than them and I’m more skilled than them and I’m a better fighter than them,” Khan said. “But these are ones that probably could be my worst opponents because I don’t really have that fear element, whereas when you’re fighting someone who’s tough and who’s dangerous and it’s going to be a tough fight, then that’s what brings out the A game in me.”

Khan claimed he will be the best version of himself on May 7. “I think Virgil understood that, as well, and I definitely understand that myself, that I’m going to train more,” he said. “I’m going to be more focused for a fight like this than I would be for a fight against someone my own weight and someone I know who I’m better than.”