British star Amir Khan thought long and hard about facing Canelo Alvarez at a catchweight of 155 pounds before accepting the offer to challenge the WBC middleweight title holder on May 7.
The 29 year-old heads into tonight’s bout as a huge underdog to rip away the Mexican’s belt and says suffering damage in the fight came up in conversations with trainer Virgil Hunter.
“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. 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,” said Khan.
“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, 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.
“I think Virgil understood that, as well, and I definitely understand that myself, that I’m going to train more, 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.”
On training to come into the fight eight pounds higher than his usual limit, Khan added: “We’ve conditioned well. We expect that Canelo is going to come forward and try to grind me down, and we know what to expect. I’ve got some great sparring partners who are going to get me conditioned and get me ready for that kind of pressure. So I’m looking forward to whatever Canelo brings, really. I’m just going to be working towards a very strong, hard‑hitting, come‑forward fight with Canelo, and we’re going to be ready for that, and if he wants to do that, we’re going to have answers for it. If he wants to do ‑‑ whatever Canelo does in the fight, we’re going to have answers, also. We’ve basically worked on two different strategies for this fight.
“I mean, look, this weight could be amazing for me where I feel strong and it suits me better, so it just depends on ‑‑ we’ll see after the fight. Me and Virgil will sit down afterwards, but naturally I think I am a middleweight, naturally, but who knows. By putting this extra bit of muscle and strength on, I think it’s only going to maybe make me stronger, and time will tell. It’s hard to tell at the moment, but while I’ve been sparring and while I’ve been in the gym training, I do feel really strong and really good, and I feel really happy, as well. It gives me enough time to spend on skill and to work on my defense and work on my boxing skills.
“Canelo is a great fighter. He’s a great fighter, and this is going to be a big event. Whoever comes to this fight is going to be really happy because you’ve got a style there, and it could be bigger than the Chávez‑Randall fight because you have the whole of Mexico, you have the whole of ‑‑ you have the whole world watching that fight, and I think in this fight, especially two big superstars from two different parts of the world fighting each other, I think this could be a massive fight really because not only you’ve got Great Britain, you’ve got like ‑‑ you’ve got the whole of Asia, India, you’ve got Pakistan, you’ve got the Middle East, you’ve got America, you’ve got so many nations who are going to be choosing and watching this fight, this is a very big fight, and it’s just great for boxing.
“It’s only promoting our sport of boxing, and it’s going to, like I said, promote big fights in the future.”