By Marc Livitz: Applause is always customary for fighters who take the biggest of chances within the ring. As is usually the case in boxing, there aren’t many instances outside of perhaps the heavyweight ranks where a difference in size is clearly noticeable, save for the miracle of re-hydration for those who must keep their respective weight in check. Through the effective use of training, nutrition and natural growth, fighters can take it upon themselves to move up or down in terms of weight classes, but there are always inherent risks. Lose too many pounds and one can be drained of energy. Putting on too much weight without the necessary time to harness its changes and power has its drawbacks as well.
On Saturday, May 7, former two time, multi-division champion Amir “King” Khan will make the move across not one, but two weight classes (from welterweight to middleweight) to face Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in a showdown for the lineal championship at the new T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Thus far in his decade plus one long career, Khan (31-3, 19 KO’s) has essentially faced all comers and challenges and the 2004 Olympic silver medalist from Bolton, Lancashire, England will most certainly find Alvarez (46-1-1, 32 KO’s) to be his biggest test to date. He’s held championships across the lightweight as well as junior welterweight divisions. As he takes the massive step up to middleweight, he’s hoping that the 160 pound class will come as a more natural feel to him as opposed to past bouts when he’s had to suffer to cut weight as well as size in order to hit the contracted limit.
It will likely be a far cry from his opponent from Guadalajara, who will hit the middleweight mark on the previous day at the weigh in and step into the ring considerably heavier. Together with his father and manager, Shah Khan, trainer Virgil Hunter and CEO of Golden Boy Promotions, Oscar De La Hoya, Amir took part in an international media conference call on Tuesday afternoon to discuss his May 7 showdown.
Selected Highlights Listed Below
Opening Statements, Oscar De La Hoya: “We’re really excited once again to be working with Amir Khan. This fight is all about speed and power. History has shown us that these types of fights make for exciting ones. I think back to Amir’s fight with Marcos Maidana. Khan showed skill and strength to make it though that battle. We expect a sell out crowd with of course, a lot of Brits as well as fans from all over the world.”
Shah Khan, Amir’s Father/Manager: “This is a big challenge for Amir and he’s ready for it. It will be a great night for boxing and his preparation has gone really well. This is about two great fighters with lots of talent and speed.”
Opening Statements, Virgil Hunter: “Amir’s having a great training camp. I commend him for his courage and insight for taking up this challenge against such a dangerous fighter.”
Amir Khan on training and moving up in weight: “Camp has gone well. It’s been tough working on new strategies because I know that one mistake in a fight like this can spell trouble. In and out of the ring, I’ve been focused. I want to walk into the ring strong and not too light. We’ve done everything right and my skills are what will win this fight.”
“I am not stronger than Canelo and I won’t think that I’m stronger than him on the night. I’ll definitely shock the world on May 7th, otherwise I wouldn’t have taken the fight. I still have a bit left of training. I’ll do my family and country proud when I bring home the belts.”
On Possibly Staying at 160: “I’m sparring with some very tough guys. Holding onto the weight has improved my abilities and power. I know I’m not naturally stronger. I just know that I’m happy at this weight and I’ve not had to kill myself to cut any of it. I’ll be focusing on my game plan for the fight and working on my skills.”
“I do have a life after boxing but I think by taking this fight, I’ll be more focused. I can’t make any mistakes. I’ve made some against guys my weight because I had no fear and I held the edge in speed. I can’t go into this fight like that.”
Virgil Hunter’s Thoughts on Facing Canelo and Amir as a Middleweight: “Initially, I wasn’t for the fight. What changed my outlook on it was Amir’s response to me when I asked him why he wanted this fight. He assured me that it was what he wanted and that he knew what he was getting into. I’ve always been impressed when he was at this weight while trying to take off pounds. It’s definitely been a plus.”
Oscar De La Hoya on Khan’s Big Task Ahead: “That’s who he is. He believes in himself and his ability. I wish every fighter would be like Amir Khan. He reminds me of myself. I won some and I lost some because I dared to be great.”
On Where the Winner of the Fight is Headed: “With Mayweather and Pacquiao now retired, the winner of this fight becomes “The Man”.”
Hunter’s Views on Khan Losing Speed at 160: “His speed has not been compromised at all. When you’re gifted with it like he is, then he’ll grow with it. I don’t view Amir as an underdog in this fight. We’re not approaching the fight hoping he gets the win. We’re approaching it determined to win.”
Amir’s Last Thoughts: “This is going to be a fight that people are going to love. Boxer versus fighter and speed versus power. I need to prove that I really belong up against the best. I want to do this for the U.K. crowd and I think they’ll turn out for me.”
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April 12, 2016