Amir Khan: ‘Beating Crawford will transform my career’

Amir Khan has agreed to face undefeated WBO world welterweight champion Terence Crawford in the United States on 20 April (Pic credit: Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

by RONNIE RUFF

AMIR KHAN has admitted he is in “the last chapter” of his career ahead of Saturday night’s (20) blockbuster with pound-for-pound great Terrence Crawford – but that fact will make a surprise victory in New York “one of the sweetest moments”.

The Bolton boxer, 32, has a final crack at the big time at Madison Square Garden, taking on the unbeaten 31-year-old American for the WBO world welterweight title.

Crawford (34-0, 25 KOs) is a big favourite according to the bookies but Khan, as ever, is in confident mood.

“I have seen weaknesses. Look, he’s a very good fighter – he picks his shots really well but there’s ways of beating that. I just feel that I know exactly what to do,” he explained.

“I’ve fought many styles in my career, in sparring and especially at the high level and amateur fights. That sort of style does suit me and sometimes he likes to come forward, which will definitely suit me. If he looks for it, that will make it even better. I believe I will win this fight.”

Khan is back in the division where he has had most success – the former two-time light-welterweight title-holder won’t face the middleweight power he was on the end of when he was brutually knocked out by Canelo Alvarez, another elite operator, in 2016.

Amir Khan (R) of England battles with Samuel Vargas of Canada during their Welterweight bout held at Arena Birmingham in 2018

The man with 33 victories and four losses in an entertaining career since turning professional in 2005 took two years out from the sport after that crushing loss, but after two lackluster
comeback wins, is back.

He added: “Whatever Crawford brings to the table I’m going to have an answer for. It’s very different because it’s only the second fight in my whole career that I’m going into as the underdog. The one against Canelo and now this one.

“It makes me want to prove a point. People are thinking that I’ve got no chance but I’ve been watching videos of Crawford and he’s very beatable.”

His illustrious opponent, known as ‘Bud’, is a three-weight world king, and experts recognise the Nebraskanative as the second best fighter on the planet behind Ukrainian superstar
Vasyl Lomachenko.

Crawford, though, disagrees with the pundits.

“I am the best boxer in the world – hands down. I can box at range or fight close up, whatever’s needed. I can box equally as well on the back foot or the front foot and I have very good sideways movement. I’m a southpaw who is just as comfortable when switching to orthodox.

“I have hand speed as well as punching power and I am excellent defensively. I’m an intelligent fighter who adapts to any opponent. I believe I am the complete boxer so, yes,
I think I’m the number one pound-for-pound.”

He added: “I am not taking him lightly. He is a very good boxer who I rate as one of the best in the welterweight division. He is very fast, knows what he is doing in the ring and has not
lost at welterweight. We have taken every precaution in our preparations.

So while the odds do seem stacked against Khan getting the win, he has pointed to his experience of taking on the top names in the business, and Crawford’s reluntance to do so far, as a possible advantage for the Briton.

While Khan has shared the ring with the likes of Canelo, Danny Garcia, Marcos Maidana, Lamont Peterson, Zab Judah and Paulie Malignaggi, Crawford’s only real ‘name’ triumphs
have been against Ricky Burns and Khan conquerer Breidis Prescott.

“I don’t think he can deal with my hand speed. He has never faced anyone as quick as me. His last three opponents [Jose Benavidez, Jeff Horn and Julius Indongo] I would have
beat easy,” Khan, who is back with trainer Virgil Hunter for the bout, told The Guardian.

Amir Khan poses for a portrait during a media day at the Amir Khan Boxing Academy

“The only opponent of his you could pick out is Prescott and that was late in his career. I would have destroyed Prescott if I’d fought him then. Crawford’s taking a big step up
against me. Compare his resume to mine and I am light years ahead.”

He continued: “It’s a gamble but it is also a motivation. I have been fighting for many years and I need this kind of contest to lift me. It’s a fight to keep me in the sport, to give me the
love for it.

“This is a fight that can make me a world champion again. Beating Crawford will transform my career. You need these fights which make you a little nervous.

“He shows respect but, inside that squared circle, he goes to war. But in the contract I noticed a rematch clause, which gave me a confidence boost. There must be some doubt in
him to have that clause. But Crawford reads a fight very well. His weakness is he’s a little wild and can get into trouble. I think it will go the distance and I’ll win by unanimous decision.”

Khan concluded: “After I lost to Canelo I was out of boxing for two years and it was definitely the lowest time of my life because I had lots of problems. I made mistakes and things were not good between my wife and my family. But that made me stronger than ever.

“I’m so glad I am out of that place because it was very bad. It was a great wake-up call because I could have destroyed my life. Things are much better with my wife and my family.
Everything is back to normal.

“I am on the last chapter. I only have a few more fights left in me. I want to get out before there’s any real damage. I would love to prove everyone wrong against Terence Crawford.

“If I beat him I would get so much respect. It would be one of the sweetest moments of my life.”