Amir Khan does not get the respect he deserves.
Khan is a lightning rod for criticism on social media, especially in his native U.K. They bust on his chin – generally busting his chops A LOT – and his tabloid hijinks.
Honestly it’s a bit overboard, I think.
Not to kiss ass, I told him so because I really feel this way and I will tell you why I shared that with him on a Wednesday phoner.
Khan has always been patient and decent with me, as a media person, and, yes, I appreciate that. The man is a full fledged celeb over in England, more so than most all fighters here in the U.S., and if he wanted to, he could treat press much worse. Especially since many of us keyboard-tappers have savaged the guy for his chin getting checked a few times.
Apart from that, he doesn’t get the respect he probably should from the perspective and effective manner he goes about selling his fights. Yes, I believe as you do that he is the underdog for good reason against undefeated three-division champion Terence Crawford, who he will face at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan, on April 20th, and on pay-per-view if you aren’t on site.
Khan has been talking a pretty good game in the lead-up, as when he said a few days ago that he thinks he’d be undefeated too if he fought the schedule Crawford did.
Now let it not be said that the guy doesn’t possess a certain level of media savvy too because when I asked him about that comment on the phoner, he backed off to a degree. “That was more so hype for the fight,” the 32-year-old, coming off a unanimous decision win over Samuel Vargas in last September, told me.
Yes, he said he’s seen some things in watching Crawford fights that have him believing he can beat the Nebraskan. However he doesn’t go overboard in trying to play up his chances with me or take the bait and crack on Crawford’s resume, when offered the on-ramp. He said he respects Crawford’s skill set and knows that he can’t make a “silly mistake” on fight night. “I have to make sure I do everything right,” the 33-4 (with 20 knockouts) hitter stated.
When assessing Crawford’s record, Khan said they have a foe in common. He lost to Breidis Prescott but that was earlier in his career (in 2008, his 19th bout). “I do give him that,” Khan said, “and he’s a good fighter but come April 20th, I don’t want anyone to feel that I’m not ready to come to win. This is for my legacy and I want to be remembered as a great.”
We delved into that…
His legacy is pretty solid, I noted, with a large part of it to contain mentions of his respect for seeking stiff challenges, not cherry-picking pairings.
Winning this fight would represent, “taking my legacy to another level…That’s why I took it. I know what it means. It was hard to get up for a Vargas, no disrespect for him. But now I really do feel like I did (earlier in Khan’s career). I know I have to turn it up and this took me back to the old mindset.”
We also touched on the his trainer-hopscotch. Oliver Harrison, Jorge Rubio, Joe Gallagher, Freddie Roach for that long spell, Virgil Hunter, then Joe Goossen, now back to Hunter. What’s up with that? “As a fighter, I think you need change,” he explained. He said Hunter was sick; that’s why he is back with Hunter and he’s happy, being the tutor is aligned mentally with him and knows what he wants and needs.
Of that mental side, we also chatted about how Khan handles all the flak hurled at him. The Brit press takes shots at him and obsessively follow his exploits outside the ring. Anti-fans aren’t afraid to bust his balls on social media and, man, doesn’t that ever get under his skin? “I never let it get to me,” Khan said, basically admitting it comes with the territory in the age we are in. “I’m always getting the hate. I use it as motivation. It’s funny; people will meet me and be surprised, say I’m a normal guy. They figure when you have success, you will be arrogant.”
I probed further, wanting to get a real sense of his real confidence level. How sure is he that he would beat Crawford? “The reason I took the fight is because I knew I could capitalize on my speed, power. I’m very comfortable in my boxing skills. I’ve never been outclassed. I know Crawford is a good fighter. And yes, anything can happen. One punch can change a fight but I’m going in there knowing I can win.”
Summing it all up: Does Khan want to offer up an “I told ya so,” to the masses whom think he has no chance?
“I will not put them on the spot and embarrass them,” said Khan. “I’ll move on and they can move on.”
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