British welterweight star Amir Khan is training hard in the United States as the former world champion bids to secure his first ever title shot at the 147-pound limit.
Standing in the Bolton man’s way is Colombian hardman Samuel Vargas, who will oppose the 31-year-old in his second comeback bout of 2018 on September 8.
Khan blew the cobwebs off a 23-month ring absence in spectacular style against Phil Lo Greco in April and is fully focused on the job at hand despite the obvious distractions of a potential Manny Pacquiao fight.
“Everything is going well. I’m training in the Ten Goose Boxing Gym with Joe Goossen. We’re focusing on Samuel Vargas and working very hard,” Khan exclusively told World Boxing News in a break from camp this week.
“Samuel Vargas is a good operator, he’s a tough guy. He’s been in with some big names and I’m sure he’s going to give me a good test on September 8th.
“This is a good fight for both of us and it’s a next step up from me fighting Phil Lo Greco, obviously and him coming off his last win and then a draw.
“Whoever wins, this fight will hopefully take us to a world title fight in a bigger fight. If we want to move that next step up, this is the perfect fight for us at the perfect time.”
On returning to the WBA Rankings and being given the opportunity to seal a shot at new belt holder Pacquiao, Khan knows he cannot afford any mistakes against the South American next month.
“I’m very happy I’m back in the rankings again as I’m back after two years out of the ring and a hand injury. I’m now back at full force and I’m really looking forward to getting bigger fights and moving up the rankings again, that’s where I belong,” pointed out Khan.
“When you look at levels, Phil Lo Greco was never on my level, and the way I put him away in 39 seconds shows I’m a level above. Obviously, I respect him as a fighter but he should never have been in the ring with me.
“I needed that comeback fight to get my confidence back from two years out and the hand operation, I think in that respect it was perfect.
“Now we have the next step up and this fight is an eliminator for the WBA title held by none other than Manny Pacquiao.
“If a win over Vargas means I fight Manny Pacquiao, you know we’ll take that fight,” he added.
Pacquiao, 39, put Lucas Matthysse into retirement in Kuala Lumpur in July and has already expressed his interest in trading blows with his former training partner.
Phil Jay is Editor of World Boxing News. Follow on Twitter @PhilDJay