Top trainer Virgil Hunter was dead against welterweight fighter Amir Khan trading blows with Canelo Alvarez in 2016 before the Briton suffered a devastating sixth round knockout.
Khan had been aiming to fight Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao for eighteen months or more before both bouts collapsed and the ‘King’ was forced to accept an offer from Golden Boy to battle the Mexican superstar.
Despite advice from his coach, Khan went through with bout at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas as a massive underdog with the UK betting sites, having done well for first five rounds against the super-welterweight champion.
“I let him know that was stupid, crazy. For what? The Canelo fight was a fight I was totally against. But once I saw it wasn’t going to change, I told him: ‘I can get you through this fight, but we don’t have any margin for error. You have to focus every second of every round. If you lose focus it could be disastrous for you,’” Hunter told The Telegraph.
“If you look at that fight, Amir could have beaten any welterweight that night. Because Amir had no room for error. Even when he got caught, we’d worked on that. The whole plan was keep Canelo down to one punch at a time. We did that. Don’t go to the ropes. He did that. Keep him in the middle of the ring and pick him.
“If he starts getting tired, you start bringing combinations in. He did that. When he dips down he telegraphs what he’s going to do to the body. Take a half step back. He did that. That punch would’ve knocked most people out.”
As Khan’s career hangs in the balance due to constant fight delays and yet another high-profile encounter against Pacquiao seemingly falling apart, Hunter still believes the 30 year-old can have a major impact over the next few years.
“(He) could have been the best welterweight ever. Because of the things he can do,” he explained.
“He still has an upside – with his hand speed. His speed should last him at least another three years. If he learns this, even if he loses one tenth of a second, it would be hard to pick up if you’re out of position. If I’m a half foot closer I can lose that tenth of a second if I know what to do.”
A huge UK clash with Kell Brook has been taken off the boil as ‘The Special One’ completes mandatory duties against Errol Spence in May, leaving Khan with few options on the table.
Rematches with Danny Garcia or current welterweight belt holder Lamont Peterson could excite, although Khan may need a warm-up win beforehand having only fought once since a May 2015 win over Chris Algieri.