[Interview] Amir Khan: Improved Mental Focus for 2012, Or Still Looking Ahead to Future Glory?
Amir Khan is experiencing deja vu and not one of the positive kind. The WBA, junior welterweight titlist is mere hours away from a unification matchup against Danny Garcia, the WBC title-holder. And like Khan’s last fight in December against then IBF titlist Lamont Peterson, Amir is going into this bout with superfight rumors swirling.
In the last week, whisperings have gone through the boxing community that Khan is next in line to face the currently incarcerated Floyd Mayweather, who’s reportedly looking for one more bout to close out 2012. This same plan was on Khan’s mind before facing Peterson, as evidenced by an interview with this very writer where he ambitiously place himself as a future Pound 4 Pound successor.
All that was derailed when Lamont Peterson scored a shocking, split decision upset. While it was later discovered that Peterson had extra performance help, the now overturned loss still set back Khan’s career for nearly a year.
Tonight he faces another unheralded but dangerous opponent in Danny Garcia, who’s determined to remind Khan in successive bouts that sinking feeling of an upset loss. Just hours before the big fight, Amir Khan reveals whether he’s learned from past mental blunders, or if his mind is still focused on the deja vu of superfight dreams.
TWV: The last time we spoke, you were very preoccupied with moving to welterweight and getting big fights in 2012. Yet, here you are still at 140…
Amir Khan: Definitely, the Peterson fight kind of put all that on hold. I still could have moved to 147 but I wanted to have a rematch with Lamont Peterson that didn’t happen. I believe everything happens for a reason and I’ve got another great fight. I’ve matured in weight and it’ll work out for the best.
TWV: There was a lot of criticism leveled your way about you not having a competent inside game. Was that addressed in this last camp?
Khan: Yeah, but with this fight it was the power and a lot strength training and conditioning. So I know Garcia is going to feel that punch and get hurt by it. I don’t think he’ll have a chance.
TWV: With his recent performances, has Kell Brook hit your radar?
Khan: He needs to fight some big names. Maybe then the fight [between us] can happen. At the moment I’m fighting world-class fighters and campaigning in America while he’s been at home. In the future a fight could be big in America. I don’t think it makes any sense fighting him in America now because nobody knows him. When I beat him people would think ‘who’s this guy?’ I don’t think he’d sell over here either. Maybe in the future when he fights guys in America and recognized in the Top 10.
TWV: Considering all that’s come out regarding the circumstances around the first Peterson fight, does it make your more confident going forward or angry?
Khan: A little bit of both, really. At the end of the day we know we won that fight even coming into his backyard with biased judges and a referee. We still want that rematch really to put things straight.
TWV: We’ve seen a lot of suspect judging this year, but we still have commissions and even commentators saying it’s incompetence over corruption. What’s your stance?
Khan: I think it’s bad judging, really. But then again you never know because there’s a lot of stuff going on with boxing behind the scenes. There’s a lot that still needs to be found out with what happened in my [last] fight and what happened in Manny [Pacquiao's] fight [against Timothy Bradley]. Something is going on that’s unethical.
I’m a fighter that trains hard for 10 weeks and it hurts when you get cheated like that. I’m hoping the officials continue to look into it and follow through with investigations.
TWV: Being that we knew for a fact you’ve been in there with someone on performance enhancing drugs, and from what you’ve seen and heard, how bad do you think the steroids issue is in boxing?
Khan: I think it’s very bad when you have major champions getting caught. You look at Peterson who deliberately took something, lied about not knowing why the sample came back positive and then 3 weeks later remembering [he took testosterone]? Who forgets something like that? He had the chance to tell the truth.
TWV: You fought Victor Ortiz in the amateurs and most fans have calmed down on calling him a quitter since it’s been revealed his jaw was broken in two places. Do you think boxing fans, especially those who’ve never boxed, are too harsh or quick to throw the quitter tag around?
Khan: You’re always going to get fans who say and write good and bad things about you. You have to put it in your mental rear view mirror. But with Victor Ortiz he had the chance to box and win that fight but he made it a war and that was Lopez’s game. Maybe the fans are frustrated because they know he should’ve won that fight and went on to a bigger fight against [Canelo] Alvarez. The fans overall just want you to put forth the best effort every time.
TWV: You’ve had to verbally spar with Danny Garcia’s father more than his son for the last few months. Any final words to him before you step in the ring?
Khan: I’m going to do my fighting and talking in the ring. All the stuff his father said about my race isn’t going to stop my punches on his son. It’s definitely personal and I’m going to knock him out.
“Khan vs. Garcia,” a 12-round fight for Garcia’s WBC Super Lightweight World Championship, is presented by Golden Boy Promotions and Khan Promotions and sponsored by Corona and AT&T. The fight will be televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing at 11:00 p.m. ET/PT.