Sparring with Pacquiao boosts Khan
Amir Khan’s training camp for this weekend’s WBA light welterweight title fight against Paul McCloskey (tape delayed on HBO at 9:45 p.m. ET) has taken him from Los Angeles to the Philippines, and home to the United Kingdom, Manchester to be exact, where the fight will take place.
Why all the travels? At his trainer Freddie Roach’s insistence, Khan (24-1, 17 KOs) again trained in high altitudes, just as he had for his recent 12-round decision win over Marcos Maidana. It also allowed Khan to continue his training with Manny Pacquiao. This time, it was not just that the two shared a trainer though, but that Pacquiao, a lefty, would help prepare Khan for the left-handed McCloskey.
“Manny’s the best southpaw in the world,” Khan said. “He’s very awkward, and I’m sure if I can do really well against him in sparring, then I’ll do really well against McCloskey, not only really well, but beat him. I know how to beat a southpaw.”
McCloskey, conversely, feels he has what it takes to beat Khan. He has said so on many occasions, saying he spars with better boxers than Khan and intimating that Khan has a glass chin. Khan, while respecting McCloskey (22-0, 12 KOs), does not believe the Irishman is ready for the jump up in competition.
“McCloskey’s an unbeaten fighter. He’s a very strong, very awkward southpaw. He has his hands low and he’s very active. He’s a European champion and he won the British title. This is a big step for him to fight for a world title,” Khan said.
“At the end of the day, he’s unbeaten, and he’s going to come in ready for the fight. He’s going to come in confident, but I think there are levels in boxing, and I think he’s still at the European level. I think it’s too big a step for him to fight for a world title. He’s been calling me out for a long, long time and the fight’s here. I’ve also been training like a challenger regardless, and I not only want to win the fight, but be impressive winning it.”
As for all the pre-fight talk, Khan says that is simply not his style.
“I’m not one of them to talk trash and get into arguments with my opponents,” Khan said. “I want to let my fists do the talking and I want to make a statement. I really think, back of his head, he’ll be the one that’s worrying. I’m the quiet one. I’m the champion, but I’m also the quiet one.”
The last fight with Maidana, a grueling one, gave Khan a lot of confidence and continued his rise up the boxing food chain. He admits it has been a little different since then, with more attention coming his way. That said, he has not let the distractions get the best of him.
“I stay very focused. I have to keep winning if I want to stay in this position,” Khan said. “I train like an underdog. That’s what makes me the best fighter in the 140-pound division I believe, and I know if I get through this fight, there are some big fights ahead of me.”