On Tuesday, at the five-star The Mayfair Hotel on Berkeley Street in London, former World Light welterweight Champion Amir Khan, CEO of Golden Boy Promotions Richard Schaefer, Execute Vice President and General Manager of Showtime Sports Stephen Espinoza and Khan Promotions’ Asif Vali met with the sports media to formally announce the upcoming showdown between Khan and undefeated Carlos Molina on Saturday, Dec. 15 at the Los Angeles Sports Arena.
Khan (26-3, 18 KO’s) is ready to bounce back under the guidance of new trainer Virgil Hunter following defeat to Lamont Peterson last December and an upset loss to Danny Garcia this past July.
Former National Amateur Champion Carlos Molina (17-0-1, 7 KO’s) has passed all his tests to date, but faces his toughest test against Khan. After debuting in 2007, the talented 26-year-old from Norwalk, California has showed skill, patience and poise in the ring while defeating Manuel Leyva, Glenn Gonzales and Marcos Jimenez.
Below is what Amir Khan, Richard Schaefer,Stephen Espinoza and Asif Vali had to say at the media conference.
AMIR KHAN, Former Unified Super Lightweight World Champion
“I am excited for this fight. It will be in LA where I hope to see my U.K. fans and American fight fans. I am sure Carlos Molina will have his fans turn up in support of him, and we can finish the year with a bang.
“Molina is an undefeated fighter and all undefeated fighters are dangerous fighters. This fight is a step up for him and, in a way, it’s a step up for me too coming off of a loss. I have to win this fight and I have to win it in good fashion.
“I’ve seen him fight. He is very skillful, but he is beatable. I can win this fight, but I need to win convincingly. This is the time to prove myself and I will do just that on December 15.”
On new trainer Virgil Hunter:
“We have spoken quite a bit already. We discussed the fact that I am an offensive fighter, but now it’s time to be a smart fighter, to win fights with my brain.
“He told me that he wants the type of fighter-trainer relationship where we get along really well together, where we don’t just see each other at the gym. We will watch tapes together and work out our game plan together. With Virgil, that is a style that will work for me.
On Boxer vs. Brawler:
“My main style was to be a boxer using my brain, but when you start to win so comfortably, you can forget the meaning of being a boxer. You can get drawn into ‘fights.’ What Virgil and I spoke about is going back to boxing, smart boxing. I think that is what Virgil Hunter has to teach me, to stick to a game plan. At times in the past, I went out there and I saw ‘red’ and went all-out, forgetting the game plan. I think Virgil will get me to use all of my speed, ability and skill at the right times.”
RICHARD SCHAEFER, CEO of Golden Boy Promotions
“The television rights for Amir Khan’s next fights were very hotly contested in the U.S. In the end, the decision was made by Amir and his team to go with SHOWTIME because of the commitment they showed to Amir.
“Carlos Molina is a very skillful fighter. We started promoting him at Golden Boy Promotions when he was 3-0 or 4-0. He is now 17-0. No, he is not a big puncher, but he is very, very skilled inside the ring. He is undefeated and when a fighter is undefeated he has that something extra.
“Amir Khan knows that this is a big opportunity for Carlos Molina so he will not underestimate this man.
“Carlos is a former National Amateur Champion. He has fought good competition as a professional and consistently stepped up throughout his career. He and his team, which includes Clemente Medina, the very talented trainer, and Frank Espinoza, the very experienced manager in the U.S. They feel that Carlos Molina is ready and they know this is their big opportunity. It will be up to Amir Khan to prove them wrong.
“We at Golden Boy Promotions are very proud of our relationship with Amir, his family, Asif and the rest of Khan Promotions. This is the next chapter in the career of Amir Khan. He has a new beginning on December 15 at 140 pounds and eventually, we expect, at 147. It’s time to look forward and Amir is ready. He is taking Carlos Molina very seriously.”
STEPHEN ESPINOZA, Executive Vice President & General Manager of Showtime Sports
“There are a number of fighters making their Showtime debut this year and others returning after several years away from our network, among them are the biggest names in the sport today – Victor Ortiz, Canelo Alvarez, Miguel Cotto and we are very excited to add to that list Amir Khan.
Over the years, Showtime has televised some of the best of British Boxing. Most recently, Joe Calzhage, Ricky Hatton and Carl Froch. And again, it is my pleasure to etch Amir Khan’s name to that list.
“I had the pleasure to get to know Amir over the years and the reason why he was a top priority for me when I began at Showtime is that he has the rare combination of being charismatic, articulate and personable outside the ring and being incredibly entertaining inside the ring. In short, he is a television executive’s dream.
“There are only a handful of fighters that are truly recognizable to boxing’s most casual fans, to American sports fans at large. They are Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao, Miguel Cotto and Amir Khan.
“On December 15, we will have a supportive Hispanic American fan base coming out for Carlos Molina and a rabid U.K. and international fan base for Amir Khan. That adds up to a recipe for a very compelling event to close out an incredible year of boxing on showtime.”
ASIF VALI, Khan’s Manager:
“When we came back from Las Vegas (following the Danny Garcia fight), people said that Amir Khan was finished. Well, Amir Khan is not finished. In fact, he’s only just begun.
“He knew after that loss that he needed to make a change. He faced up to that fact with his team, with the press and, above all, with himself. He said, ‘I have to do it my way because I am the only one who has to train and make that sacrifice and I am the only one going into that ring.’
“So, he has rededicated himself and he is ready to reclaim a World Championship. And I, along with his team, who are a very loyal and close knit group, have every faith in this champion that he will rise again.”
October 10, 2012