By James Slater
Photos: Scott Raven
Today in his hometown of Bolton at Gloves Gym, Amir Khan held an open workout in front of the media. The big announcement that Khan, the former WBA and IBF 140-pound king, will face former WBA welterweight champ Luis Collazo on May 3rd in Las Vegas was followed by Khan hitting the pads, jumping rope and shadow boxing.
Looking in great physical shape having filled out as a welterweight, Khan is excited about putting on a show in his 147-pound debut on the big Mayweather-Maidana card at The MGM Grand.
Both trainer Virgil Hunter and Amir Khan kindly did interviews with Fightnews.com:
Would Luis Collazo have been your first choice for Amir’s 147-pound debut right now?
Virgil Hunter: “Well, it’s not a matter of choice, it makes sense on the Mayweather card. On the flipside, we could say that, at some point, if he [Khan] doesn’t fight someone who is considered dangerous he gets criticised. So we are glad that Collazo is viewed that way. This way, his victory will not be minimised the way his last victory was (against Julio Diaz last April). He fought a two-time world champion, but his victory was minimised. So I think this is a good fight for him.”
Do you see an explosive type of fight, where Collazo comes out blazing and tries to catch a rusty Amir Khan with something big?
V.H: “Well, can you name me any fight where Luis Collazo came out blazing?
I was just meaning the win over Victor Ortiz, where Collazo got that 2nd-round win.
V.H: “But Collazo was going backwards, Ortiz was coming forward. And he caught him with a punch that might have hurt, might not have hurt him. So we don’t really know the dynamics of that fight. What I saw, maybe Ortiz could have got up. The way his body language was, maybe he didn’t wanna get up. So that’s hard to say, but Collazo was definitely not coming forward. Ortiz was the aggressor and he [Collazo] caught him. So I’ve always seen Collazo as a counter puncher. Maybe he might come forward [in this fight] if he feels he can do that.”
Amir has been talking about his lost fight with Floyd Mayweather quite a lot and he says he may still get that fight. Do you feel Mayweather wasted your time by messing you around, making Amir wait for the fight and then not fighting him?
V.H: “I don’t think anyone can waste your time if you have a plan on how to use your time wisely. And Amir used his time wisely during that time, committing himself to camp, committing to be better prepared for fights and practising on correcting some of the things he’s done wrong in the past. So if you look at it that way, I think we maximised the time and made the most of it. But now, Maidana beat a guy who some view as a fighter similar to Mayweather (Adrien Broner) so they thought it might be intriguing to see Maidana again, against Mayweather, and that’s really the bottom line of the fight. I think the public have been sort of fooled into being intrigued by it, but really I think it will be the same old fight – Mayweather against a slow, plodding, one-dimensional guy. Yes, he’s [Maidana] dangerous and he’s very well-schooled, and he’s made a lot of progress with Robert Garcia, who I think is a top-notch, A-1 coach, but you know, Mayweather’s on another level.”
What would you like to see Amir do if he doesn’t get the Mayweather fight?
V.H: “I’d just like to see him maximise his potential. Everything else will take care of itself. I’d like to see him dare to be as great as he can be, that’s what I’d like to see.”
Finally, Virgil, now that you know you are fighting Collazo, is five weeks enough time to get 100-percent ready for him?
V.H: “Well, we’ve been together for the past eight weeks, so it’s not like we’re just going into camp. We were prepared for the Mayweather fight and we never stopped preparing. And after we knew we wouldn’t get the fight we knew the potential to fight on May 3rd was still there, so he’s in tip-top shape right now. So right now, the five weeks is really a luxury.”
Amir, you finally have an opponent in Collazo, but was Lamont Peterson ever a real possibility for May 3rd, a rematch with him to settle the score?
Amir Khan: “Yeah, I said to Golden Boy that I love that fight, but I don’t think he wants to go up to 147. I could not make 140 again. I mean, maybe I could make 140 but I’d be killing myself. So I said I want to fight someone at 147, someone who is a big 147 fighter. I could have taken an easier option, I could have taken a smaller fighter, someone who has also moved up to 147. But I wanted to fight someone who is established at the weight.”
Virgil was saying that Collazo is primarily a counter puncher, but it was surprising to some that he stopped Ortiz so quickly.
A.K: “Yeah, with that fight he’ll have got a lot of confidence. He knocked out Ortiz, so we know he’s got power. So he might think that he’s getting me at 147 and that he’ll put the pressure on, and push me back and hurt me. So that is going to be going through his mind, he thinks he’s caught me at the right time. I think he’s wrong there but time will tell. But yeah, he looked really good against Ortiz. He is a good counter punch fighter, with power.”
Talking about Mayweather, and I know you’re probably sick of talking about him, do you feel he disrespected you and wasted your time?
A.K: “Yeah, it was disrespectful in a way, where the fight was signed, or a contract was sent back, and then the fight was announced [Vs. Maidana] and it wasn’t me and it seemed we hadn’t even talked about the fight. That just killed it off. But Floyd is the bigger name and sometimes you have to respect that. He’s decided how he wants to carry on his career. But God sees everything and I’m just going to leave it at that really, I’ve got no hard feelings. Maybe it’s happened for the best, and has given me a nice break, to spend more time with Virgil in the gym, to work on my skills and technique and everything. Things happen for a reason.”
The Mayweather fight is still out there as you said earlier and it is your dream fight. But if the worst case happened and you didn’t ever get it, what would you do instead?
A.K: “We’re in a division that is packed with top names, in the 147 division. So if it never happens, it never happens. At least it got very close to happening, and we were one of the top guys at the weight that Mayweather was talking about, he mentioned my name. In my opinion he’s one of the best fighters ever and I want my chance because I really believe I can give him his biggest problems with my speed. When you’re fighting someone who is that good, you are going to be so on alert, you’re going to make sure you don’t make mistakes. The only time I’ve made mistakes was against Garcia and Prescott, and I went into those fights thinking it’s going to be easy, that I’m going to walk through these guys, and I made that mistake. But against Floyd Mayweather, we’d be 100-percent and we’d make sure we made no mistakes. Everything would be perfect. So if it happens it happens, but if not I’ll look to take over where he’s left off when he’s retired, by becoming the best pound-for-pound in the sport. But if the fight doesn’t happen, I will be upset, because I’ll always be thinking what would have happened. It’s all in God’s hands.”
Back to Collazo, do you see any issues at all with him being a southpaw?
A.K: “I’m actually unbeaten against southpaws. As an amateur I had great experience against southpaws and the last southpaw I fought was Zab Judah and we had a great performance. So we expect a good night on May 3rd and we will definitely be ready.”