Underdog Boxing Exclusive – Amir Khan: Next in Line

Freddie Roach will remain as a top-notch trainer even after Manny Pacquiao retires from boxing. Why? Because he already has a star student who is clearly Pacquiao’s heir apparent for the boxing kingdom that is the Wild Card Gym of California.

Amir Khan (22-1-0, 16 KOs), a British Pakistani currently residing in Bolton, Greater Manchester, England, is Roach’s second favorite student. Although the two haven’t been together for long, Roach’s impact in Khan’s improvement is undeniable.

The Olympic Games in Athens witnessed the birth of Khan’s stardom. He was 17 and he easily qualified for the Olympics, in fact, he was the lone entry of his country. He lost in the finals to the great Cuban fighter Mario Kindelan, but it was obvious that Khan would be a major force in professional boxing someday.

Khan started out his pro career on fire. He won his first 18 fights, 14 of these ended via the short route. Khan was starting to create buzz in boxing world specially after his big wins over Graham Earl and Gairy St. Clair.

Then disaster stuck.

Khan was knocked out in the very first round by hard punching Breidis Prescott who then had a record of 19 wins with 17 coming by knockout. Khan was defeated in the first 30 seconds of the fight.

He became the butt of jokes after that fight with fight fans branding him glass-jawed and renaming him “A Mere Con.” After the terrible loss, Khan ditched his trainer and made the best decision of his life. He hired Roach.

Khan has racked up four straight wins after his loss. Two were shut-out decisions, one of them against the legendary Marco Antonio Barrera, and the other two were by knockout.

Now he is scheduled to face the tough Paulie Malignaggi (27-3-0, 5 KOs). The ultra-loud Malignaggi is a perfect opponent for Khan. Why? Because he can’t hurt a fly. If Khan indeed has a suspect jaw, Malignaggi isn’t the type of fighter who can exploit it. However, Malignaggi is as tough as they come. He managed to finish his fight against Miguel Cotto even with a broken jaw. Ricky Hatton also didn’t manage to drop Malignaggi although the fight was stopped in the 11th round as he had no chance at winning and was taking too many shots.

I asked Khan how his training is going and he said “training is going really well, only less than three weeks to go now for the fight and I am raring to go, me and Freddie have been working on quite a few different tactics and strategies, it is going to be a very exciting fight and you will just have to wait and see.”

Malignaggi and Khan have had heated exchanges but it seemed that Khan had some respect for the New Yorker. “Paulie is very tough, he has been in a few battles with great fighters, but I believe I will knock him out, I’m a lot faster than the boxers he has faced and he won’t see my punches coming, we’ve also been working on my power, I’m feeling stronger than ever and punching a lot harder too, he’s going to be in for a big surprise when I hit him,” Khan said.

I also asked him about his thoughts in the division he’s currently fighting in. Khan said “I think its the most exciting division along with the 147 division, the likes of Bradley, Alexander, Ortiz, Maidana, Nate Campbell make the 140 division very hot, all respected and very good fighters,  I hold the WBA and i want to unify the division as soon as i get the chance, there are going to be some very good fights this year, and i am happy to fight any one of these guys.”

Khan is built like he could go two divisions higher so I asked him when he plans to move up to 147 and maybe face the money maker in that division. But Khan said his sights are solely on his current division. “I would like to unify the division before thinking of moving up weight, I am very comfortable at this weight and I feel very fast and very strong, I don’t have a problem making the weight too, once I unify it I will want to be the undisputed light welterweight champion of the world, and then the big super fights will come,” he said.

“I’ve heard a lot about the Philippines, and Manny keeps telling me to come over, so I’m defo gonna make some time and come enjoy it over there,” he said when I asked him if he plans to visit the country.

Surely, Khan is one of the brightest young stars in boxing. If his partnership with Roach clicks like Pacquiao’s did, Khan will be a very good fighter in the near future. but now, he has his sights set on Malignaggi. Roach boldly predicted that his student will knock out the cocky New Yorker in three rounds. We all know what happened when Roachstradamus predicted a fight to end within three rounds, it ended in two, with Hatton fast asleep from a Pacquiao sledgehammer.

Khan also didn’t shy away from a prediction. He said that he’ll make sure that Malignaggi’s career will be over once he’s done with him.

Will Khan be the first to knockout Malignaggi?

Khan sure thinks so.

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